5 Loss Prevention Tips for Indie Retailers
Small retail stores can have a tough time with loss prevention. While big box stores have whole departments devoted to catching thieves, a small jewelry or clothing store can only take so many measures. Here are five techniques you can start today to keep the stock you don’t sell on the shelves.
1. Find Vulnerabilities
To catch a thief, you have to think like one. Take a look at your store layout like a heist film and think, “If I were to steal something, how would I do it?”
Would you target the open-cased jewelry behind the mannequins? Or maybe the disorderly array of cashmere scarves in the back? Look at the least traveled areas. Where could you slip something into your coat or purse without anyone noticing?
Circle your MOST vulnerable areas and put your LEAST vulnerable inventory there.
One of the least vulnerable areas is the register. Often stores keep small items that could be pocketed easily up front. Sometimes this technique also encourages impulse buys at the point-of-sale such as bracelets or snacks.
2. Determine where to concentrate your resources
If you’re a store owner, you’re already an expert on your inventory. But become an expert of what’s at risk. Look at your inventory and evaluate a risk-value ratio for each item. For example a gold ring has a high value and can be stolen easily. Therefore, that item has a high ratio. Lip balm, on the other hand, has a high risk of theft, but low value, so it has a low ratio. Your high value items that can be stolen easily should be of more concern for you when merchandising, as well as protecting with security features.
3. Cameras don’t work unless you use them
Many independent retails find CCTV cameras invaluable. Cameras are not only useful in catching shoplifters, but detecting employee theft and fraud. Placing cameras around the POS will deter employees from using their own type of math when making transactions.
However, thieves often test the waters of security systems. As an owner, installing cameras isn’t enough to deter employees and serial shoplifters. If you notice discrepancies in the register or on the shelves, look at the tape. Be known as the store-owner that does due diligence – not the one that relies on the empty threat of surveillance.
4. Signs deter some, not others
CCTV cameras are an essential tool for prosecuting shoplifters and investigating employees, but does advertising their existence with signs deter thieves?
Professional thieves aren’t likely to care much about signs (or cameras for that matter). Some are involved in highly organized retail crime networks. They know how to deal with cameras. However, employees and amateur shoplifters can be dissuaded if they know they are being watched.
In addition, cameras with a monitor attached or public view monitoring are more effective at preventing shoplifting because thieves don’t want to get caught by other customers or employees.
5. Talk to your team
Employees need to be on the same page as their manager when it comes to a loss prevention strategy. Teach your employees what to look for in shady characters and which items are the most at-risk.
The best retail prevention tools you have are your employees. Employees that walk the store and engage with customers prevent theft just by being active. This not only deters thieves, but can increase quality customer service.
In addition, employees can report on suspicious person and alert managers when they see something fishy. Let your employees know that loss prevention is an important issue to you and they’ll be extra alert when on the job.
This is a great start to any loss prevention strategy, but there are many more tools at your disposal. What other tips do you use to keep control of your merchandise?
Contributed by Alex Roitman, an outreach manager at MySecuritySign.com. After opening a successful retail store in Tucson, AZ, Alex moved to New York, pursuing a career in e-commerce. Friendly and personable, he cultivates relationships throughout the safety and security industries. Alex’s articles spotlight new industry trends and provide tips to give small businesses advice to keep customers and employees safe and secure.