Solutions To Combat Shoplifting and Employee Theft

Shrinkage – Employee theft, shoplifting, clerical and vendor errors-is an issue that big and small retailers have in common. From Wal-mart to Target and whole-sellers like Costco, shoplifting is a common occurrence that cost the retail industry billions of dollars each year. 

Many small business owners in the retail industry choose to not prosecute the theft.  The reasons? The cost associated with prosecuting a shoplifter or employee theft is too costly for many of them and believe at the end of the ordeal it is in their best interest to take the theft as a business loss. 

For the big retail chains, theft is important and the measures they take to prevent, prosecute and avoid it are serious.  The profits are greatly diminished when shoplifting, employee theft, and vendor or clerical errors occur frequently in their business.

How can they be profitable if they do not combat a financially crippling problem?

 The retail industry’s shrinkage average nationwide is between 1%-2%, and for many retailers that is a big chunk of their profits that will disappear every year.  Big retailers like J.C. Penney and Costco have implemented shrink measures that have seen shrink reduction decrease tremendously.  Costco shrink’s rate is just 0.11% to 0.12% of sales and J. C. Penney has seen a decrease of 20% reduction in shrink dollars. 

The security measures they have been implemented in those stores are the big difference between out of control losses and security measures that are working out for them to prevent theft in their stores.

For many of these stores, implementing technology to combat theft is the first step they take in their quest to prevent it.  

Personnel training is another big change they take into consideration when dealing with theft.  Research has shown for many years now, that a happy employee is an employee that will, in the long run, be an asset to your business. Training employees, and providing them with a good salary are investments that many companies take seriously, and research has shown happy employees provide a better customer experience that results in less theft.

Shoplifting and employee theft are hard to combat and they can be hard to understand when looking at profits. There are solutions your store can implement to combat them and to give you peace of mind. Finding a solution is necessary and too important to ignore for too long.

Quit Stalling About Employee Theft

Every day I see news articles about employee theft. That does not even cover a fraction of the employee theft occurring both know or unknown. The fact is that approximately 45% of a Retailer’s losses are due to employees stealing. We focus so heavily on shoplifting that many times a Retailer misses the boat completely. Do not misinterpret what I am saying, shoplifting is responsible for about 35 percent of a Retailer’s losses. Which is also huge.

However, employees have access to your cash, supplies, and merchandise. Employees are generally trusted until they show us that they are not. Which may be too late! Many Retailers I have discussed this with over the years tell me that they trust their employees and treat them well. Therefore they would not steal from them. Those are the folks that have the worst losses and the biggest shock when it does happen. As human beings, we do not want to believe that someone would steal from us. We also are quick to turn a blind eye to the evidence even when it hits us in the head. We simply do not want to believe it.  

Another factor is that many Retailers do not know, understand and are afraid to do something. Will we make a mistake? Would we accuse someone of something they did not do? What civil and criminal consequences do we face? And the list goes on. This is yet another stalling factor for not doing anything. 

Quit stalling about employee theft. You face every other retail problem head on why not this. Educate yourself. We can help you with this. Make sure you know the signals of employee theft. Yes, employees who steal, act differently than other employees. You simply need to know what to listen and watch for. Do you “audit” your operation? For example, an audit can be as simple as making sure the Point-Of-Sale balances every day and if it does not, find out why. I have seen many Owners and Managers that say if the drawer is short $5 or less, they do not look into it because “it is not worth my time”, REALLY??? THAT IS SO WRONG and dangerous!!!! First by having a policy like this you are telling everyone that stealing $4.99 and below is okay. $4.99 times 365 days a year is a loss of $1,821.35. Oh, and that kind of theft WILL lead to larger and more frequent employee theft. 

Over my career, I have investigated, interrogated and put in jail somewhere north of 2300 employees for theft. The vast majority of those employees that were stealing did it for the same reasons. Many still stole even those the boss was “good to them”. I have seen employees that had been loaned large amounts of money by their employer, employees that were being put through school by their employer steal with no regret except for being caught. 

We can train you to spot employee theft and what to do about it when you suspect and find it. It is not hard to do. We can show you how to “test” employees to see if they are stealing. We can help you build the confidence to be on the offense, not the defense.  Your good employees will not care or suffer. In fact, they will help you. You just need to know how to proceed. 

Would you knowingly buy a car that had major engine and transmission problems? Probably not. So why would you hire someone with a criminal record? Why would you not find out that they have problems with violence, theft, drugs and worse when it is so simple, fast and cost-effective to do so? We can help you with that also. We conduct pre-employment screening, drug testing and more, nationwide. Look at it this way, you interview, select, employ, train, invest in an employee just to find out the hard way that they are very familiar with employee theft? When a pre-employment screening costs $20 how can you afford not to. Drug testing is also very inexpensive. You can quickly, cheaply and easily have a pre-employment drug testing done on all of your employment candidates when you offer them the position. Again, we conduct pre-employment screening and drug testing nationwide. 

You control every other aspect of your business, why would you not take more control of employee theft? Contact us today or call toll free 1-866-914-2567. 

Importance Of Inventory Control-How Out Of control Are Profits Without Inventory Control?

 Out of control spending may be okay for the federal government (Let’s be frank 20+ trillion of debt seems pretty out of control to most of us) but as a store owner or manager out of control expenses will bury your company. I am sure that you are looking carefully at where you spend your cash, reviewing controllable reports and monthly expenses. What you may not be considering is how operating a store without inventory controls in place can be negatively impacting the profits of your store. 

     When I talk about inventory controls I am not simply referring to activities on inventory night, I am talking about everything the store does all year to control merchandise. For example, the store I work for receives their pallets of freight several times a week. Included in these pallets are sealed plastic shipping boxes that hold individual pieces of merchandise. Some of these boxes have different colored seals and colored seals are indicators that the merchandise inside is high value/high theft goods requiring strict controls. The merchandise in these boxes requires security devices or immediate lock-up. When I was a Loss Prevention Manager for another company we had a lock-up cage we staged at the trailer receiving door. As specific high-risk merchandise came off of the trailer that product immediately went into the cage. That merchandise had to get to its department following a very specific path and if I observed any deviation from that path I was investigating the issue. The store where my daughter works requires all jewelry shipments be taken immediately to the jewelry counter, counted against the invoice and stocked. Jewelry is not allowed to sit out until it is convenient to secure it. Having a detailed plan for identifying high-risk products, verifying counts against invoices right away and immediately securing it are smart steps in preventing inventory shortage from getting out of control. 

     Electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems are another key piece of a sound inventory control strategy. When I mentioned securing products above it does not necessarily mean that merchandise has to go into a lock-up case. Most merchandise can be protected against theft with EAS labels, hard tags, wraps and other protective devices (for example Sensormatic has a product called Flexible Safers that can hold items and still give EAS protection). There are some things that a display case is appropriate to display merchandise in such as high-end jewelry. By the same token, there are EAS products suitable for costume and less valuable jewelry. Inventory control of such pieces of merchandise means tagging these items by a team of trusted employees before they are on the sales floor and accessible by other employees or shoppers. An EAS system also includes the installation of towers at all points of entrance and exit. A common error on the part of many retailers is the failure to place towers near vendor doors and employee-only entry doors. Failing to protect these doorways is a misstep in recognizing the reality of employee theft and the impact it has on store profitability. 

     Inventory control also takes place in in-store training programs. Teaching employees how the customer service they provide helps prevent shoplifting plays a part in inventory control. Training front end supervisors and cashiers how to properly handle EAS alarm activations determines how much merchandise you may or may not recover from potential thieves. Even the proper training of specialists who show merchandise from lock-up showcases impacts the potential for a crook to steal. How many pieces of jewelry should be out of a case to show a customer at any time? One, two, or three items? You have to teach your team what you expect and how someone may try to trick them while they are showing merchandise. 

     Inventory control is a year-round effort. It encompasses more than locking up merchandise or preparing for an annual inventory. Inventory control requires an in-depth look at where losses can take place, how they occur and who may be causing the losses. Once you do that you can implement solutions to the problem by creating a comprehensive shortage prevention strategy. Do that and you keep from losing control over your store profit line.  

What can a Loss Prevention System do for you?

Loss prevention technology along with the proper personnel training will allow a retail store to reduce loss, improve customer service and provide the data necessary to access up to minute inventory information in the store.

A loss prevention system is a preventable measure retail stores need to adopt to prevent the losses that plague the retail industry. A loss prevention system along with trained personnel can be a deterrent to shoplifting, vendor and employee theft that can save the retail store thousands of dollars a month.

A loss prevention system can protect the merchandise in the store while protecting customers and the employees as well. Incidents, where violence and sometimes deaths occur, can be avoided with the proper systems, training, and the continuous effort to ensure the safety of the employees and customers alike.

A loss prevention system can allow the employees and manager of a store to focus and ensure customers have a good experience shopping at their store. Good customer experience can translate to continuous business, and great customer satisfaction has been linked to less shoplifting in the retail industry.

If you are the owner of several retail stores, a loss prevention system can be adapted to each store’s unique layout and needs while providing the same information you need to prevent shoplifting or to take the necessary measures to prevent it.

A loss prevention system is an investment a retail store cannot do without, but along with an investment in a loss prevention system, trained personnel plays an important role in making sure the system can do what it is supposed to do. Data from the loss prevention system cannot go unchecked, and it cannot be ignored.

Employees have to be trained and knowledgeable of the stores’ policies and procedures regarding shoplifting to ensure an efficient and quick response if shoplifting occurs in the store. Violence can and must be avoided at all costs.

There’s research out there that clearly indicates the cost versus benefits of having a loss prevention system in place.  Profits in a business can be slim, losing them to shoplifting, employee or vendor theft can be detrimental to any business.

An Investment For Your Business

When new legislation passes in many states, the array of issues that come to new elected officials varies considerably.  

Shoplifting laws are one of the many topics legislators review to make sure the punishment is appropriate.  Businesses and small businesses in general need to be protected by the laws of the country to ensure the economic growth of a locality, the state and ultimately the country.

The punishment for shoplifting varies according to the state and in some instances the county where the business is located.  Laws are put in place to make sure these silent crimes are not committed with impunity, and the shoplifter is prosecuted according to the law. 

Unfortunately, many of these shoplifting incidents are not prosecuted for  many different reasons. Ultimately, it is up to the business to decide whether to prosecute the shoplifter or not.  As a business owner, they have to consider the costs associated with prosecuting shoplifters as a rule and whether it is economically sound to do so.

A lawyer’s fee for an hour or to prosecute a case depends on the region, the experience and the complexity of a case but, either way, their fee does not come cheap. 

 As a business owner, is it practical or economically possible for you to have a privately retained attorney? Is it your business practice to prosecute a shoplifter regardless of the quantity they steal?  There are many questions one needs to answer, and many options you have to make as a business owner regarding shoplifting.

Shoplifting in the United States have become a multi billion nightmare for businesses in the retail industry.  From the casual shoplifter to organized retail rings, the losses the retail industry suffers are staggering.  The small stores or shops in this industry have to fight and stop loses because their livelihood depends on their ability to stop the shoplifters. The profit margin from sales is too small for them to ignore the problem or to neglected it for too long.

For many of the small retail businesses, a loss prevention system that allows them to protect their merchandise and profits is one of the best ways to invest in their business.  Big retail chains have for many years now invested in loss prevention systems to help them minimize the losses and help them prevent shoplifting and employee theft. 

A loss prevention system that gives the employer or management of the store up to the minute information about the merchandise , allows them to do their job more efficiently and helps them prevent theft is an investment that will pay off sooner than you think.

Not Planning For Summer Customer Traffic In March Is Madness

Not Planning For Summer Customer Traffic In March Is Madness

Have you ever noticed how quickly big box retailers will transition from the Christmas season in their “seasonal” departments to jumping into the new Spring/Summer merchandising sets? They don’t play around they are very strategic in their planning to get a jump on their competition. They use their mini-seasonal areas to drive the Valentine’s Day and Easter business but the large areas used for patio sets, plants, gardening, etc. get changed shortly after the Christmas season is over. Smaller retail stores should be doing their own transitions at this time too. It’s madness if you haven’t started putting out the Spring/Summer merchandise for your type of store by March.

     I understand there are some types of retail stores where it would seem a bit more difficult to appeal to a seasonal change. I think of luggage stores or perhaps a “mom and pop” corner grocery store where customers are used to purchasing their staple food items. But let’s think about this for a moment. Is there room for even the least seasonal retailer to adapt to seasonal sales? I would suggest there is room and it may take a bit of getting out of a comfort zone. Let’s say you sell luggage and people are going to come to your store who travel at all times of the year. Is it possible for you to carry some items that may be more colorful to appeal to a summer traveler? Think about how much easier it would be to locate a unique or brightly colored suitcase if it is on an airport carousel. While some shoppers (such as I) might prefer a traditional dark colored carry- on bag or briefcase, there are those people who fancy a more whimsical style. A change of colors and patterns might draw in more customers especially with the right touch of advertising and product placement.

     Mom and Pop grocers, sure milk, eggs and bread may be your bread and butter (pun intended) but is there any reason you couldn’t put out a display of Igloo coolers, picnic grills, aluminum foil, six-packs of soft drinks or beer? How about a front of store display with these items, grilling aprons and advertising for specials on lunchmeats, steaks and hotdogs directing consumers to your cooler section? Sometimes we all get in ruts and we fail to look outside the box for new and creative ideas to keep a business fresh and improve sales.

     There are the stores out there that just seem to always maintain the same set up and merchandising year in and year out. I can think of a local hardware store I sometimes go to when I don’t feel like fighting the other shoppers at the national hardware chain stores. When I do go to this particular store I usually have to search a bit to find what I need, it isn’t super neat but everything seems to be where it has been for the past fifteen years I have shopped there. It does make me wonder if the owner is trying to reach out to new customers or worries about the competition from the big box stores. A few changes now and again could probably make an impact on sales but that is a choice that owner has to make. What kind of changes would I suggest? I would put out new signs to let customers know about any sales that are running. Place gardening tools and gloves, tillers and lawnmowers at the front of the store. If the store has electronic article surveillance towers, upgrade them so that advertising panels can be interchanged and catch customer’s attention as they walk in.

     Seasons change and retail stores should too, before the beginning of the next season. Take a look at a national clothing retailer the next time you walk into a store. It may be January and they will start putting out swimwear when you are still wearing a jacket. Smaller retailers can take a lesson from the large chain stores. I am not saying to become them, but there are some tips and tricks you can take away. March is here and now is the time to rebound from your winter season and spring into action by driving those summer sales.

Benefits of a Loss Prevention System

Most retailers in the United States end their fiscal year on December 31st. and begin the New year with a new budget, new goals, and new strategies to implement in their business.  

For the loss prevention team or management of the store, allocating sufficient funds to the prevention of shoplifting and security of their store begins anew.  If a store has not purchase a loss prevention system and the losses of the store are too many to ignore, the new year allows them to budget and purchase a system that will help them minimize their losses and prevent them from happening in the future.

Research has shown the budget for the prevention of shoplifting and loss prevention teams have been declining over the years with no plans to change it, while the problems associated with shoplifting, employee theft, internal clerical issues and lost merchandise continue to grow.  Every retail store has different problems associated with them, but shoplifting is a problem that is common for every one of them. 

Allocating enough funds to the prevention of theft in your store is vital. According to research purchasing a loss prevention system to help you minimize the losses in your store will return your investment within months. Reduction in merchandise losses, increase productivity, personnel reduction, and an increase in sales are some of the benefits associated with the purchase of a loss prevention system that will see more profits going to you.

Finding out what kind of loss prevention system your store requires will need the help of a seller that understands systems, training and prices. 

An EAS system can give the store an up to the minute understanding of what merchandise is in the store, what items have been sold, and what merchandise is missing. These systems can let you know up to the minute information about your store without having to do a physical count every time you need to know something about a specific item.  With an EAS or a point-of-sale (POS) system, information about the merchandise in your store is within your grasp within minutes.

Investing in technology that can help your management and loss prevention teams work effectively while minimizing cost will help your store succeed.  These systems not only offer help in deterring shoplifting but help you meet the needs of customers and their shopping habits.

Preventing shoplifting in your store with a loss prevention system is key to your success.

An Attitude Of Service Or Just An Attitude? Attitudes Affect Customer Service

This is going to seem a bit odd to some of you but I want to know if you have an attitude? Store owners, do you have an attitude? Store Managers, do you have an attitude? Has anyone taken a look at the attitude of their employees? EVERYONE has an attitude, the statement isn’t necessarily a negative it can be positive. The problem is we have grown accustomed to thinking of it with a negative connotation. Why is that? Because in some form or fashion we have adopted the idea that an “attitude” shows our independence or ability to be self-reliant regardless of what others think. At times it can be very course and abrasive to others. If that is your “attitude” how does that relate to your customers, or those who work for you? I would like you to consider for a moment that an “attitude” may look more like a chip-on-the shoulder than some sort of independence (in some cases if looks like a boulder more than a chip).

     An owner with a poor attitude makes the job more difficult for the managers who work for her or him. The “I’m the boss” temperament may be unstated but if that is how an owner thinks it can reflect into how they give direction and interact with their managers. It frequently means that no one else can have a better way of doing things and leads to a stale operation. I will also tell you that the negative attitude rolls downhill.  The way you interact with your managers will be reflected in how they interact with the store associates and they, in turn, have attitudes with the customers. I have seen it in action and I can tell you I have experienced it and have allowed it to impact my interactions with my team in spite of my best intentions. By the end of a workday, everyone leaves in a grouchy mood. 

     The attitude of the owner affects the attitude of the managers has a direct impact on your customers who don’t have to shop at your store. I happen to work for a company that has two stores in the immediate area. On more than one occasion we have heard comments from customers that they don’t like to go to the other store. They tell us the customer service is poor and the employees are not friendly. On the other hand the manager of the store where I work makes a point of telling the managers they are to do whatever they can to keep customers happy (within reason and without violating policies). Employees may get busy but they enjoy working for this manager. The atmosphere is welcoming and we make every effort to greet our customers and offer assistance when they walk into the building. I have gone into the other store and the climate is different. If a greeting is offered it is more of an obligatory hello that a genuine one.  

     What is the climate in your store? What do your managers and employees think about your management style? If you aren’t concerned think again. If your store employees are providing poor customer service to customers because of the treatment they receive it as a direct impact on sales and a direct impact on theft prevention. Shoplifters who have been interviewed have said that they target those stores where employees are unhappy. They don’t have to worry about someone trying to give them too much attention. If shoplifters aren’t receiving service, neither are your customers and that means no one is trying to sell let alone up-sell for a store. 

     Customer service starts with leadership. When the management team seeks to make the climate one where employees enjoy coming to work that attitude will be reflected in the interactions between workers and customers. Owners and managers cannot assume the team is happy. Truly anonymous employee surveys will help gauge what employees are thinking. They can also be a tool for seeking ideas about what employees might want to see done differently or an outlet for ways to improve. Happy employees make a world of difference. What is the climate in your world? Is everything great or is an attitude adjustment in order? 

A Loss Prevention System To Start The New Year

Shrink in the retail industry is a  loss that many retailers seem unable to fight.  The budget to invest in security in the retail industry has declined over the years with no plans to restore it now or in the foreseeable future. Many of the small retailers believe that installing a loss prevention system will be too expensive for them to afford even though  they seem unable to stop the shoplifting that is causing their store major losses.

Loss prevention systems that allow these retailers to deter the shoplifting from happening in their stores are an investment they seem to ignore or to believe they are too expensive for them to even consider. The benefits associated with installing a loss prevention system in a retail store are numerous, and research has  shown the investment of purchasing such system can be recouped within a year.

Many retail stores do a physical inventory regularly that allows them to gauge the state of their store. Depending on the size of their business, this physical inventory should be done at the end of the month or quarter, and definitely one at the end of the year. For many retail stores, if an inventory is done after the holidays, it can offer a very shocking reality.  

The shoplifting, employee theft, vendor and clerical errors are seen clearly and painfully, and cannot offer an explanation or a solution to the tremendous losses in the store. A physical inventory is also a very expensive way to account for the merchandise in the store. The many hours and personnel required to do this kind of inventory are financially draining for many businesses and their bottom line.

If after the holidays your business has decided to purchase and install a loss prevention system that will allow you to deter the shoplifting and  employee theft in your store, there are a few key features such system should have to help you be successful.

  1. A software platform that allows the retail business a concise and up to the minute inventory analysis to make the necessary adjustments for their business.  
  2. EAS  solutions that are tied to an RF surveillance system that enables the loss prevention team to make decisions accurately and in a timely manner every day all year long
  3. A loss prevention system that will offer training to your employees and help you navigate solutions to your specific problems.

There are many loss prevention systems sellers that will help you find the financing available, give you the training, and the customer care you need to make the installation of the system a success.

Having doubts about buying and installing a loss prevention system in place is understandable and expected.  But, letting shoplifting, employee theft and other external factors influence the earnings you work hard to earn is not a sustainable solution. Contact us and talk to us, we will be happy to work with you.

Are You One Of the Retailers That Simply Let Shoplifters Win?

Why would you do that especially when stopping shoplifters is so very simple? Loss Prevention Systems has the proven two step solution. Sensormatic EAS and a shoplifting prevention program that is easy and affordable. Our Sensormatic systems generally pay for themselves in approximately 5.5 months! Come on, you cannot afford to not fix the problem. Shoplifters are a threat from the moment you open until you move the last customer out your doors.

Stopping shoplifters is really no different from fixing any other business problem we as company owners and Managers have to deal with. You attack it head on! For example, if you are a grocer would you just let a freezer fail when it has been giving you warning signs that it is going to go out? Losing a freezer full of perishables at the same time? No, you repair or replace it. Shoplifting prevention is the exact same thing. You have to give it the attention it needs and maintain the fix.

So what are these steps you need to take? First, let’s make sure that you understand that both steps must be implemented and maintained to stop shoplifters. Doing one all by itself will only give you a very temporary fix.

Purchase a Sensormatic Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) system and tag the merchandise that shoplifters are targeting. A Sensormatic system such as the Ultra is very cost effective and simple to use. The Sensormatic Ultra pedestals are located at your customer doors. Tags or labels are placed on your merchandise and, if a shoplifter tries to walk out with your protected merchandise, the system goes into alarm, alerting your staff. Loss Prevention Systems is a Nationwide Sensormatic Dealer and we specialize in medium to small retailers. We have the loss prevention expertise to put the right Sensormatic system into play for you based on your needs and budget.

Second, training! Not just how to use the Sensormatic system but actual shoplifting prevention training. How to identify a shoplifter before they even try to steal from you and what to do with them once you do identify them. Actually, shoplifters can be entertaining to deal with. You drive them crazy at the same time you are delighting your regular customers and they go away.

Loss Prevention Systems training programs go deep into the methods to deter shoplifters. And since you cannot be everywhere at one time, the Sensormatic system backs you up! Loss Prevention Systems LIVE training is available to you FREE of charge, as often as you reasonably need it, as long as you own your Sensormatic system.

On top of this, depending on the Sensormatic system you choose, Loss Prevention Systems offers many other features. We can remotely monitor your Sensormatic pedestals 24/7 for issues such as alarms, maintenance issues, power failure, the system being shut off and much more. We can provide you with customer counting and for the Retailer that is ready for RFID inventory control, your Sensormatic system is ready.  Loss Prevention Systems is the only Sensormatic Partner that has all of this expertise to fix your shoplifting problem and keep it fixed.

Contact Loss Prevention Systems today and get on the winning path against shoplifters.