As the industry gears up for the busiest time of the year, retailers will be looking to maximise every opportunity to reap the rewards of the Christmas shopping season.
And for many that will involve not just plugging leaks in their loss prevention strategy but also identifying areas of weakness where they can proactively reduce the potential impact of loss.
So, as we ready to embrace the festive season, here’s a guide to playing a proactive, not reactive, loss prevention game.
What we know
There are a host of statistics that reveal the cost of loss in the retail realm.
- Shoplifting, or “shrinkage” for Australia’s entire retail sector can represent around $9.5 billion a year in lost earnings (Source: The Australian 2018)
- The overall industry standard in Australia for shoplifting cost is about 2-3 per cent of total sales (Source: The Australian 2018)
- In some cases loss can be as high as 4 and 5 per cent (Source: The Australian 2018)
- Shoplifting ramps up in the six weeks prior to Christmas, costing $1.4 billion – or 3 per cent of the predicted Christmas spend (Source: Canstar Blue 2016)
So how can you pre-emptively reduce this cost?
Know your numbers
Accurate inventory counting, and knowledge of what stock is where in the supply chain is one way of proactively reducing stock loss.
With current and thorough insight into your stock using tools like RFID, you can identify the type of products that are being targeted through theft, and where in the supply chain that loss is occurring.
Your numbers also allow you to dive deeper into any loss trends, such as when loss is most likely to occur, how busy the store was at the time, and what staff were on the floor when an incident occurred.
With tools like smart locks, you can even ascertain which staff access what cabinet, how many times.
This insight allows you to be proactive with initiatives like staff training and upgraded security measures for commonly stolen items.
In the instance of smart locks and RFID it can also act as a theft deterrent, indicating to staff and customers that management knows who is handling items and can pinpoint where and when loss is occurring.
Know your weak spots
Your numbers and just basic common knowledge will also likely reveal that every store has its weak spots. Whether it’s the change room, the self-checkout or products that attract the unfortunate attention of thieves, these are the areas that should be proactively targeted for more stringent loss prevention strategies.
Tools that may assist include new state-of-the art technology like the Fittingroom guard, higher strength EAS tags or even rethinking your store layout to incorporate lockable displays, or tags that are better suited to specific products.
What does your experience tell you?
The likelihood is you have encountered at least some loss prevention issues throughout the year, and these can offer a wealth of insight into the proactive strategies you need to take.
You can read our full post about what your common issues tell you here.
Use that knowledge to your advantage, bearing in mind that if they are not addressed, Christmas will likely see these incidents increase.
Keep things in context
Yes, the busy Christmas period presents unique challenges in terms of increased stock turnover, additional staff and extra foot traffic, but proactive loss prevention still needs to work within an aesthetically appealing environment.
Whatever anti-theft strategies you do employ, ensure they still create a positive customer experience and aren’t a knee-jerk reaction to a potential threat.
The good news is there are a wealth of modern loss prevention tools available that still allow consumers to engage with products and enjoy the bricks and mortar retail experience while discretely protecting valuable wares.
The right tool for the right job
Regardless of what time of year it is, loss prevention is a strategy and one that should involve using the right tool for the right job.
That might mean now is the time to view your store with a critical eye, asking:
- Does the layout of my store lend itself to stock security (are all areas visible to staff)?
- Is my staff training up to scratch?
- Is my EAS system up to par?
- Are we using specific security tags that are suited to specific products (i.e. Bottle tags for bottles, cable tags for handbags, high-strength tags for valuable apparel).
- Do we need to turn our attention to increasing security on small sized items, with multi-function tags or stoplocks for items like electronic accessories?
- Should we be better protecting the fitting room?
- Should some stock be stored behind the counter? If so, smart cabinet locks that see one key access multiple cabinets might assist.
- Are our EAS tags the right strength? Thieves are becoming savvier, so we recommend a minimum strength of superlock on magnetic tags as Superlock tags cannot opened by old low power magnetic detachers. If you wish to secure your items even further, multipolar tags are advised as they require a special detacher to be released.
- Would RFID assist in helping me keep track of inventory across the busy period?
With Christmas just three months away, now is the time for retailers to be proactively addressing potential loss. Doing so might be the best gift you can give your retail outlet this year.