There are many preventative measures retailers can take for stopping theft and to reduce being preyed upon.
By Mark Doyle
Theft continues to plague the retail industry, with shoplifting leading the way. The convenience channel isn’t immune.
In 2017, shoplifting apprehensions increased 2.3%, with the dollars recovered from these shoplifters increasing almost 13%.
This is the 8th increase in both shoplifter apprehensions and dollar recoveries in the past 10 years. While dishonest employee apprehensions and recovery dollars were down (almost 4% and 7%, respectively), retail theft overall continues to be a serious problem for retailers negatively impacting their bottom line.
These are some of the numbers gleaned from the 30th Annual Retail Theft Survey conducted by Jack L. Hayes International Inc. The survey queried 21 large retail companies with 16,409 stores and more than $428 billion in retail sales (2017).
The overall results aren’t shocking, but they do provide a credible snapshot of how theft is affecting the total industry. Among some of the key findings:
• Shrink. 62% of survey participants reported an increase in shrink in 2017, with 29% reporting a decrease, and 9% reported shrink stayed the same.
• Shoplifting. Apprehensions: 391,760 shoplifters apprehended in 2017, up 2.3%.
• Recoveries. Over $149 million recovered from shoplifting apprehensions, up 12.9%.
Retailers can implement good customer service: Shoplifters want and need privacy; so take it away from them. If they respond, “I’m just looking,” teach employees to counter with: “Ok, great. I’ll keep my eye on you in case you need any assistance.”
Honest customers are fine with this (you are there if they need help). However, it’s the last thing a shoplifter wants to hear.
Other actions to consider:
• Have good sight lines on the sales floor. Do not block the view of high value and highly popular items, and keep these items in sight of employee work areas.
• Hire honest and motivated employees. Train them to prevent shoplifting, what to look for, how to respond to a possible shoplifter, etc.
• Use technology to your advantage. Remember, technology in the forms of electronic article surveillance, closed circuit TVs, merchandise alarms, product tie-downs for pricey items such as vape kits, can be installed.
• Limit item quantity on the floor. Limit the number of certain items (high value or highly pilferable) placed on the sales floor. This will reduce vulnerability to large losses of these items and make it easier to identify missing items.
• Prosecute shoplifters. Thieves know which retailers prosecute and those that don’t. In the end, prosecution is a good deterrent.
Effective Pre-Employment Screening Process: The first step to controlling employee theft starts at the point-of-hire; do not hire the ‘bad apple.’ Money spent up-front in the screening process to identify ‘quality’ employees will result in savings from reduced turnover and losses. Some measures might include:
• POS Exception Monitoring: Use a POS exception based monitoring program to quickly identify possible fraudulent transactions at the point of sale (i.e. excessive refunds/voids; refunds/voids before or after store hours; excessive reward credits, dummy SKU usage, etc.).
• Auditing for Compliance: Ensure consistent compliance to company policies and procedures by conducting unannounced loss prevention/shrink audits on a regular basis. Auditing not only helps keep awareness high, but by reducing the opportunity, you reduce the chance of theft/loss.
• Training & Awareness. Invest in loss prevention training and awareness programs for all employees and a reward program for employees who report dishonest activities.
• Back to Basics. Ensure that basic store security steps are in place and adhered to at all times, including, Door controls: Doors locked and Exit doors alarmed.
Trash controls: Process supervised, clear bags, cartons flattened, and dumpster locked.
Package/bag checks: Conduct whenever an employee exits the location.
Sales Verifications: “Pass-outs” are an easy way to steal with friends/relatives; have management conduct daily unannounced sales verifications.
Opening and closing: Always assign two employees for security and safety.
The full survey can be found at: hayesinternational.com/news/annual-retail-theft-survey.