Inventory loss, including shoplifting incidents, cost hard-working US retailers nearly $50 billion in 2016. To prevent shoplifting, businesses need to look hard at their security systems and controls.
But where to start? Criminals can be cunning. But even if they’re not particularly smart, it’s not hard to slip a small item underneath a jacket. Or into a bag when no one is looking.
Here are our 6 expert tips on how to prevent shoplifting in your store.
1. Staff Vigilance
Well-trained staff can prevent shoplifting all by themselves.
It should be your security guards who approach shoplifters as they exit, or after they exit. Not your regular floor staff – they’re not trained to deal with this confrontation.
But they are your first line of defense. They can keep an eye out for people who look nervous and shifty. And those who are drawing their clothes tight around them, who might be concealing something. Or those who are wearing a massive coat in the middle of summer!
If they spot someone who looks like a dodgy character, they should alert the security team.
2. Staff Communication & Clear Policy
By communicating effectively with your security team, the protection is even better. This requires training, and perhaps some technology to help them out.
You might want to equip them with tools such as earpieces and PA (public address) systems to use in store.
Then, you need to decide what course of action you want staff to take. A written policy should be drawn up. You can place this in back of house areas, such as the staff room.
For instance, you might implement a policy where staff makes themselves visible while staying a few meters away. Your staff can act as an effective deterrent. Shoplifters may realize they’ve been rumbled, and give up.
Alternatively, have your staff approach the customer and ask if they need help. Knowing that someone is there watching them will make it difficult for the shoplifter to follow through with their plan.
If someone looks like they might become aggressive, floor staff should keep their distance. For example, if a person is acting erratically, and is suspected to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They should call in the security team instead, who are better trained to deal with situations like this.
It’s important that everyone knows the policy and is on the same page. Make sure all new staff familiarize themselves with the expected procedure.
3. A Neat Store and Regular Stock Takes
If things are piled up in random areas of the store, it’s much harder to notice someone
To prevent shoplifting, make sure shelves are stacked neatly. All roll cages and pallet trucks should be clear from the aisles. This will reduce the number of ‘blind spots’ in your store, so there’s nowhere for shoplifters to hide.
Regular stock takes analyzed against your sales register will help to identify which, if any, items are being taken. This will show you whether or not you’ve already got a problem with shoplifting.
Move the targeted items to somewhere far more visible – such as right in front of the checkout desks. Or by the front door where your greeter stands.
Even if you haven’t identified a problem, this strategy is worth considering. Moving expensive items to more visible locations can prevent shoplifting attempts in the future.
4. Implement Security Systems and Routines
Security systems and routines serve several purposes. We recommend several courses of action and explain their advantages below.
Firstly, install prominent CCTV cameras and hire guards to patrol the store. This will deter shoplifting quite effectively if used in the right way. Look into security companies like Sentel Tech for the right equipment.
Secondly, use systems like security tags and alarms. This makes it much harder for a shoplifter to leave your store without being detected. And again, prominent security tags act as a deterrent – as they can be hard to remove without the right equipment.
Thirdly, your guards and security systems act as evidence gatherers should a shoplifting case end up in a court of law. You might want to have a chat with the other store owners in your street or mall, to arrange a ‘sharing’ scheme for this evidence.
Having a community of people who are acting together to prevent shoplifting acts as a much more powerful deterrent to the dishonest.
5. Use Signs to Prevent Shoplifting
Signs are a cheap way to remind shoppers that they’re being watched. You don’t want to take on an overly threatening tone with these, as you’ll annoy honest shoppers.
But you’ve every right to protect your store. Signs are effective as they remind shoplifters that they’re under surveillance. And that you’re going to take action if they do try to take something without paying.
6. Inform the Police and Support Prosecutions
We know that you’ve got a business to run and that getting involved in a legal case is hardly at the top of your list.
However, if you help the police bring a successful prosecution, you’re sending a clear message to other shoplifters in the future.
Work with the police as best you can, and offer all materials you can. For example, CCTV footage and staff witness statements.
By taking a hard line on criminals, you’re putting off future attempts. You might want to make this clear on in-store signs. By making it public that you’ll be supporting the police fully to bring charges, thieves will get the message loud and clear.
You’ve Stopped Losing Money – Now Make Money!
Now you’ve found ways to prevent shoplifting and losing money, let’s focus on making money.
Here’s how to boost your store’s reputation in the eyes of your customers. This improvement will drive more business to your store, and deliver more returns on your investment.
Browse the rest of our blog for more useful advice and tips to put your business ahead of the pack.