Retail stores across the United States lose upwards of $45 billion each year due to shoplifting and theft, and while keeping merchandise and cash from disappearing is every store manager's goal, many can feel frustrated and stymied as to how to best go about it.
From dishonest employees to shoplifters whose sticky fingers seem almost magical, it can be hard to foresee the appropriate practices, tools and technology that will yield substantial enough change once put in place.
Thankfully, practices, tools and technology are readily available, and they can be easily employed to reduce shrinkage. Here are seven ways that any retail store can effectively increase their security and keep their merchandise and cash from wandering off.
Visible Security Technology
While it may seem like utilizing highly visible security technology will keep you from being able to catch the bad guys shoplifting at your store, the reality is obvious security technology will keep most bad guys from even attempting a five-finger discount.
Small, unobtrusive cameras may be able to more effectively capture criminal activity, but larger security cameras, wall mirrors and other visible security measures will all have an effect on curbing criminal behavior. When people know they are being observed, they're more likely to behave in ways that will keep them â€” and your bottom line â€” from getting in trouble.
From an alarm system that keeps your doors and windows safe from intruders at night to hard tags that attach to merchandise in order to sound an alarm should that merchandise be illegally removed from your store, alarms can keep your inventory safe both during and after business hours. A number of different systems can be employed, and they can all be tailored to your specific type of store.
Not only does good lighting aid in providing customers with a better shopping experience, but it also keeps your store, employees and inventory safer. Good store lighting will make shoplifters think twice before trying to lift an item they haven't purchased, and ensuring that your store has plenty of quality external lighting during the night on its windows and doors will keep burglars â€” or a dishonest employee with a key â€” from entering after hours and stealing merchandise or cash.
Hire Great Employees
When you hire good employees, you ensure a better retail environment for everyone in your company â€” including yourself and your customers, but when you commit to only hiring the best employees, you get other benefits as well. According to research undertaken by National Retail Federation, internal theft is the largest source of retail shrinkage. Whether it's due to discount abuse, credit card abuse, refund abuse or taking merchandise that hasn't been paid for, employees that steal will cost you more money than customers who do. When you hire honest, hard-working people it will save you money even if it requires you to pay them more.
Create an Anti-Theft Work Environment
Well-paid and appreciated employees are less likely to steal from you. Employees who feel valued and are given responsibility are also less likely to steal. In order to reduce the amount of shrinkage your store experiences, create a work environment where internal stealing would feel as inane and absurd to your employees as stealing from themselves.
Better Store Design
A well-designed store will go a long way in reducing theft. Have the checkout area and staff near the store's exit so that customers must pass by both on their way out, and never allow registers to be left unattended. Keep the store neat and well-organized so that you and your employees can easily see if something is amiss. If you sell small, pricey items, keep these in locked cabinets that only an employee can access. Ensure that your rest rooms and dressing rooms are well-lit and staffed by attentive and engaged employees, as well. A store that has taken these kinds of precautions is much harder to steal from.
Good Customer Service
One of the easiest ways to dissuade potential thieves is through the practice of good customer service. By simply greeting the visitors who step into the store, you let them know that you are aware of their presence. Keeping your store well-staffed not only ensures that your customers' needs are more likely to be met, but it will also keep shoplifters from feeling at ease. Stay focused and attentive in regards to each customer's experience, and you will not only see to it that they can make the informed purchases they want to make, but you will unnerve those who are hoping to steal from you.
Retail theft is the largest category of property theft in the United States, and if you're a retail owner or manager, reducing it is a priority. By following these tips you'll not only reduce shrinkage, but you'll also provide a better working environment for yourself and your team, and your customers will have a better shopping experience to boot.