This post is sponsored by Tyco Integrated Security.
Retailers in the U.S. lose nearly $US45 billion annually as a result of theft. That’s a lot of money walking out the door.
“Retailers have a challenge,” says Steve Sell, director of marketing for North American retail at Tyco Integrated Security. “They can put everything out on the sidewalk and everything is going to be stolen, or they can lock everything up and nothing will get bought. No matter how quickly loss-prevention technologies evolve, the criminals will evolve just as quickly. There will always be a need to increase visibility and manage theft.”
The solution is to make it harder and riskier to steal things, according to Dr. Hayes, director of the Loss Prevention Research Council.
“Retailers spend so much money on technology that is hidden,” says Dr. Hayes. “That doesn’t work.” Thieves need to understand the danger, which means having technology in plain sight. Difficult-to-open packaging can act as a deterrent, as can eye-level cameras. Hayes also advocates “benefit denial” — making products useless unless they are purchased legitimately.
So what options do businesses have? Sell has five suggestions for ways in which retailers can cut down on theft without losing customers in the process.
1. Hire Great People.
There’s no substitute for high-quality, well-trained personnel who pay attention and create a great customer experience. They discourage potential thieves because of their friendliness and approach. “Making eye contact the minute people walk into the store and interacting with customers is a significant deterrent to shoplifting,” Sell says.
2. Use Integrated Solutions.
“Use the right kind of technology and use it intelligently,” Sell says. For example, EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) and video don’t stand alone — integrated solutions have the best chance of preventing theft. The retailers that are best at combating retail theft are using and maximizing technology to its fullest potential. “People can defeat technology, so you constantly have to get smarter about how you manage it.”
3. Analyse The Data.
“Smart retailers are harvesting all of the data that’s available to them as a result of technology and leveraging it,” says Sell. Even if it’s after the fact, analysing the information from transactions, EAS systems, and video can help predict (and prevent) future theft.
4. Get Your Entire Team Involved.
“If you leave loss prevention to the loss prevention team, they may have some biases,” Sell cautions. He says the more you can get other parts of the company to participate, the greater your return on technology investment will be.
5. Understand New Cutting-Edge Technologies.
“Technology changes exponentially and people change incrementally, so the technology is always going to be ahead of us,” Sell says. RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identification), which have chips that allow merchants to track items, can help deter theft and provide more intelligence about what’s being stolen. Merchants can even track the movement of a product towards the door. Higher pixel-rate video like CCTV (closed-circuit television), which is accurate from far distances, and facial recognition technology are tools that retailers can use to capture repeat offenders.
It’s important for retailers to have information and insight about what’s going on in their companies. “I really believe that the new currency in retail theft prevention is visibility,” says Sell. “The answer for retailers is having greater visibility across their whole enterprise.”
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