Organized retail crime (ORC) has progressively worsened over the years, and many retailers are suffering and losing at least 30 billion dollars yearly. Theft can happen from anyone at any time, including employees and customers – even children. Merchants must constantly watch their backs and prioritize preventing anyone from stealing from their store. With the help of your employees, a security camera system, a high-tech point of sale system, and a panic alarm button, it can be possible to improve security, safety, and profitability at your establishment.
Many retailers might not know how to stop theft at their stores when faced with shoplifting, said Elie Y. Katz, president and CEO of National Retail Solutions (NRS). Installing security cameras at a store is advisable, especially when checking for suspicious activity.
“Employees, for instance, may give off the impression that they are trustworthy, when they are actually not acting ethically. A security camera can help monitor employees’ activity and customer interactions, even when the merchant is not around the store. Some POS companies offer a service wherein transaction data can be overlaid real-time onto the store’s DVR footage to deter and catch theft,” Katz said. “However, it might also be a good idea to teach staff members to watch for and report any questionable behavior, whether customers or employees acting strangely. For instance, fraternizing closely with specific customers repeatedly at the register, constantly looking around nervously or snooping in the supply closet, working on a task for too long a period of time, working outside of business hours, being closed off, etc. The list goes on, but it is always wise to look out for odd behaviors in employees.”
The security camera could be helpful in generally monitoring activities and keeping track of the store while recording. If an employee is caught, a security camera is an excellent tool for proving what an employee did. Still, it might not be able to record audio and the quality of the footage may be poor. Retailers should ensure that the store is well lit and that the cameras face key locations, particularly the register area. A well-lit store makes the video recording much clearer to spot any unusual occurrences.
The store’s POS system can track a merchant’s inventory and sales, and has a cashiers/users login feature to show who was on the POS system at any given time. An employee time clock feature on the POS can also be very helpful for knowing who was on shift and when.
“Ensure that your point of sale system is up to date because if it isn’t, it won’t provide the technological benefits that a merchant truly needs for theft deterrence and safety in the store,” Katz said. “The NRS POS has a patented, silent panic alarm button, which is much easier to use in an emergency than picking up the phone and drawing attention to the thief. Once the panic alarm button is pressed, the police are immediately contacted and dispatched to the scene.”
In addition to installing security cameras, integrating the POS data with the footage and implementing a panic alarm button, retailers can also post signs around the store indicating that it is being monitored. Customers and employees who know they are being watched are less likely to steal from the store. Items that are more prone to being stolen should be kept behind the counter, where only employees will be able to access them. Products such as baby formula, tobacco products, and lighters, can fall into this category.
“It’s common practice to have signage posted in visible locations, especially at the register, stating that very little cash is kept in the drawer. It is best to remove cash to a safe, secure location, when the value in your cash drawer exceeds a certain threshold, especially after hours when a cashier may be alone in the store without backup in the event of a robbery. Some merchants opt for promoting credit card payments, to help prevent cash mishandling,” Katz said. “It’s a known phenomenon that when a customer pays by credit card, they are more likely to spend more money than if they pay with cash tender. Research the best credit card processing plan for your business, which may well be a cash discount surcharge program which passes along the transaction fees to the customers.”
Overall, theft is rampant at all hours of the day and night, costing businesses thousands of dollars annually. Following recommendations for preventing theft using technology and safeguards can be invaluable for a retailer. “Ensure you implement appropriate safety and security measures for your customers and personnel, to prevent theft and be prepared for any incident,” Katz concluded.