Is it just me or is theft getting worse? Each time I speak with a retailer I am told of the strange and downright brazen ways that opportunist thieves and ORC (Organised Retail Crime) gangs are stealing products from them. From stashing hair colour and cosmetics down their trousers to distracting team members whilst their accomplices help themselves, these thieves are getting increasingly creative.
Theft of goods is happening in stores every day - it’s those empty packages you find, or the gap in the shelf where you replenished product only 5 minutes ago; it’s the missing fragrance tester, the dumped product you find in one corner of the store. It’s happening and it’s costing all of us money.
According to the latest Global Retail Theft Barometer, theft of goods costs retailers around US$123 billion globally each year. In Australia, ‘shrinkage’ (the term for theft of goods) costs each household $420 per year. It’s a serious problem and collectively we need to make it harder for theft to occur, therefore it’s time to implement what we call ‘Risk versus Reward’. Risk versus Reward refers to the way thieves weigh up stealing in your store. Is the reward of stealing and reselling that product worth more than the risk of getting caught? If the risk is too high, then then they will not chance stealing or if they do, there is a far higher risk of getting caught.
So how do we increase the risk? Easy. Here are our top 5 tips for combatting theft.
5. OPEN UP YOUR STORE
Thieves love hidey holes and blind spots. These are the areas where they can take a product and try to pull the contents from the box or remove security products. Blind spots can be caused by columns, high shelving fixtures merchandise in the store. Thieves will also utilise the back corners as they are furthest away from your team. Stores are advised to remove or monitor these blind spots as best as possible.
Convex mirrors and reflective surfaces are one cost effective way to expose people lurking in these areas. With convex mirrors, you can easily see people in these blind corners and approach to assist. Do remember that anything you can see, thieves can see too, so be vigilant and act quickly. The mirrors can also be utilised to provide good customer service; you can locate customers in need of assistance and offer help or even make a sale. The mirrors really ‘open up’ your lines of sight which leads me to a second method of opening up your store.
In many cases the high value products are away from where your team are usually located. One suggestion is to put your high value items in the line of sight of your POS or registers. You will tend to always have someone stationed at the point of sale, so they can keep an eye on your high value products and call in team members to assist with sales or when they get a gut feeling of something suspicious happening in the area. For the potential offender, both solutions offer an increase in the RISK of being caught. Knowing that they are being watched may make them think twice before trying to steal from you.
4. Product Protection
Some items are more desirable than others and so they are often targeted by thieves. Should you keep the product on the shelves or lock it behind glass cabinet doors? The answer is to always have it on the shelves or lose customers and sales.
Many customers are short on time and research shows that seven out of 10 customers will walk straight out and into another retailer if it looks like you are out of stock and 50 percent of shoppers will not buy if they are required to ask for assistance, so let’s protect that product on the shelf. The simplest form of protection is to place a Radio Frequency EAS or visible deterrent label on the product. Doing this immediately lifts the risk of stealing the product; the most effective labels let the potential thief know that the item is electronically protected.
For those highly desirable items such as hair electrical products or fragrances, we can use the next level of protection, spider wraps. The spider wraps are a fantastic method of discouraging would-be thieves — these are the security devices that wrap around the boxed item and lock on. They will alarm if tampered, allowing your team to make an approach, plus they will set off any security antennas in your store entry. These solutions are fantastic at deterring theft and simply make it harder to steal from your store.
We all know the advantages of CCTV — it is a must for every retailer in the current climate. CCTV provides protection in many ways; it will help uncover theft, track suspicious behaviour and provide a safer environment for your team whilst working. Camera position is extremely important. You don’t necessarily need to cover every square metre in the store, but you do need the following:
• Entry/Exit points
• Point of Sale
• Cash office or safe in the backroom
• High Theft items
The image on many of the new digital cameras is phenomenal. We are currently seeing 5 megapixel cameras coming readily available to the everyday retailer, but don’t write off your old analogue system yet. There are a few options to upgrade your cameras, for example moving to a High Definition (HD) Analogue Digital Video Recorder (DVR) will allow you to utilise your existing cameras and add in some HD analogue cameras for your high risk areas. Do remember that CCTV is reactive so we recommend that retailers make a copy of footage on a regular basis and store it.
2. EAS – Electronic Article Surveillance
Radio Frequency EAS (RF EAS) systems form one of the most important parts of your store defence — a good RF EAS solution will ensure that your valuable merchandise remains
protected at all times. Studies have shown that 75% of customers feel that they benefit from cost savings when retailers use RF EAS systems, and 4.5 times more consumers prefer to shop at a retailer with EAS systems versus retailers without any security systems at all. RF EAS systems also provide a strong visual deterrent at the entry to your store. To the opportunist thief, an EAS system moves your store into the ‘too hard basket’. There are many different RF label shapes and sizes to fit your products, and a selection of clear RF EAS labels that are aesthetically pleasing. These clear labels contain a ‘window’ through which to scan the barcode; this helps you tag a variety of products without diminishing the look of the packaging. Again, each label holds a strong visual deterrent and risk to the offender. Shoplifters will be aware that these labels will set off the EAS antennas at the store entrance when a potential shoplifter tries to steal the product. By combining a vigorous tagging culture in the store, (correctly applying the tags to the more desirable items) and correctly deactivating these tags at the point of purchase, it will create a proactive environment for slowing down theft. While CCTV is reactive, EAS is in real time, so when that alarm goes off it allows your team to make an approach and recover your products immediately.
I would state that EAS will not stop theft on its own, it is very much part of your complete security solution and needs a vital ingredient, which brings us to our number one tip.
1. YOUR TEAM!
Your team in store is your number one defence against theft; they are the ones who get the gut feel if someone seems a little suspicious; the ones who realise stock is missing; the ones who are going to make an approach if they are alerted to a theft. In many retailers the team is invested in the business and want to help their manager or owner. We need to utilise this mentality to combat theft. It’s simple customer service; saying ‘hello’ to customers and being helpful in the store. For example asking, “Can I get you a basket for those products?” In many instances thieves don’t want to be noticed. They want to get in, take what they need and get back out again. That greeting immediately makes them realise that you are proactive against theft and makes the offender nervous. A nervous offender makes mistakes and lifts the chances of being caught – after their RISK versus REWARD assessment, they’ll move on to another store. Training is so important in these instances. Simply reminding your team to keep an eye for theft in your morning meetings can keep them vigilant and by giving your team the directions on how to approach people that they believe may be stealing will help build a formidable defence against theft. Every store has that person who is great at combatting theft. Use them and promote them as a leader to help others do the same. Alternatively, we are here to help.
I trust these tried and tested tips will help you to start winning the war against theft. All you need to do is lift the RISK of getting caught in your store, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Start small and tackle the easy wins. Open up your lines of sight in store and protect your product, then grow your protection as you see fit and most importantly invest in your people.
Checkpoint Systems, a division of CCL Industries, addresses two critical issues for its customers: Improving Profitability and Improving Consumer experience. With consumer demands accelerating at an extraordinary rate driven by technology, Checkpoint recognizes the challenges faced by its customers in the rapidly evolving retail market. We deliver intelligent solutions – bringing clarity and efficiency into the retail environment anytime, anywhere. Through a unique offering of software, hardware, labels, tags and connected cloud based solutions, Checkpoint optimizes operational efficiencies through analysis of real time data captured throughout the Supply Chain and in store then translating this to clear concise actions and tasks.
We provide end-to-end solutions enabling retailers to achieve accurate real-time inventory, accelerate the replenishment cycle, prevent out-of-stocks and reduce theft, thus improving merchandise availability and the shopper’s experience. Checkpoint’s solutions are built upon 48 years of radio frequency technology expertise, innovative high-theft and loss-prevention solutions, market-leading RFID hardware, RFID software, and comprehensive labeling capabilities, to brand, secure and track merchandise from source to shelf. Checkpoint’s customers benefit from increased sales and profits by implementing merchandise availability solutions, to ensure the right merchandise is available at the right place and time when consumers are ready to buy. Checkpoint operates in every major geographic market and employs 4,500 people worldwide.