To have an impact on retail loss prevention, you have to go beyond your policy. Stop theft before it has a chance to occur!
Retail businesses run a high risk of losses due to shoplifting. From the outside, these crimes may seem inconsequential to the business' overall stability. But the opposite is true: theft can have a serious effect on your bottom line. Even with effective policies and honest employees, there are always opportunities for people to steal. Retail loss prevention takes finesse and strategy for good results.
Of course, training employees to identify suspicious behavior is important. But you should also “nip it in the bud,” as they say. Take measures to discourage criminal activity right from the get-go. With retail loss prevention strategies established, shoplifting will become a challenge. A constant deterrent is the strongest solution.
Retail loss prevention tips to protect you from theft
1. Display the consequences for all to see
It's time to let your theft policy do the talking for you. There aren't many people out there who read an obvious sign saying, "Shoplifters will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," and still go through with it. Displaying a constant reminder of the consequences (and that your employees are watching) will scare away most thieves.
- Keep the signs cordial, yet clear. You don't want regular, honest customers feeling uncomfortable.
- Display these signs in areas of the highest risk, such as dressing rooms and bathrooms.
2. Customer service is a friendly reminder
Training employees to implement customer service strategies is a great way to prevent theft. The idea is to be present in all areas of the store. Approaching a suspicious customer is a good way to establish your presence. By walking up and asking, "Do you need help finding anything?" you're essentially communicating that you're watching closely.
- Be aware of customers who are staying in one area or making frequent eye contact.
- Give them the same customer service you would like any other. The message is clear.
- Stick around for a minute and see what happens. But don't linger around honest people.
3. Maximize visibility of merchandise
Where are the blind spots in the store? Are most of your merchandise cases or racks clearly visible? Work on maximizing your vantage points so customers don't feel hidden enough to steal. If the design of your retail space is difficult to change or customize, install mirrors for every blind spot.
- Keep your spaces clean and tidy. If something goes missing, you'll be able to tell right away.
- Install mirrors to eliminate blind spots.
- Order your display cases and racks so that as much merchandise as possible is viewable from your frequent vantage point.
4. Limit access to expensive items
Keep expensive items locked up and accessible only to a store employee. The most high-risk items for theft are small, pocketable, and costly. Make sure those items are placed in clear view, and limit access to customers. As an added bonus, this retail loss prevention tip also helps lower damage risks from constant handling.
5. Make security cameras easy to spot
This tip comes with two-fold criteria: make security cameras easy to spot, and keep your cameras covered with a black case, if possible. You want customers to see there are cameras throughout the store, but you don't want them to know where the cameras are facing or where the blind spots are.
- Always keep your cameras visible where cash is handled.
- Bathroom and dressing room entrances are good locations to place a camera.
6. Inspect purchases at checkout
Train your employees to quickly, yet thoroughly, check purchases at the register. Sometimes customers will make a few purchases but hide items within those items. Purses, shoes, backpacks, coats—all of these purchases have the potential to hide stolen items. Make sure to open any boxes as well.
- Check purchases for "quality assurance" while at the same time searching for possible stolen items.
- Don't make the customer feel uncomfortable. If you're patting down every pocket, you might insult an honest person.
7. Disallow bags from entering certain areas
Finally, set up proper bag checks and deterrents for high-risk areas. For dressing rooms, have an employee check purses and other items. For bathrooms, hang a sign in the entrance saying, "Bags of any kind are not allowed in the restrooms."
Go beyond your policy for better retail loss prevention
As a retail business owner, you have two things to worry about: employee theft and customer theft. Although your employees know the policies and procedures in place, most customers do not. Make it a point to maximize your prevention efforts beyond the slips of paper. Brainstorm how a clever shoplifter would steal from your store and take measures to deter those acts from happening.
Taking smart precautions for your business is the first step toward loss prevention. Take it a step further with our Loss Prevention Program at Pekin Insurance. We can help you eliminate future troubles and protect your bottom line. Call today before a problem occurs tomorrow!
Do you have tips to add for retail loss prevention? How do you stop theft in its tracks? Let us know in the comments section!