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.  

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.

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.

Did The Grinch Steal Your Retail Christmas? 

Wow, Christmas is over and Retailers are starting to dig out from the carnage. Unfortunately, some of the carnage is all the merchandise that shoplifters have liberated from your store. I believe that theft is actually the oldest vice around. Even older than “the oldest profession”. As long are there are two things on this earth 1-people and 2-stuff, there will be theft. Well, neither is going away anytime soon. So what do we do?  

The first thing is to make the decision to take your store back from the enemy. Putting the solution off will not fix the problem and it will get worse. The second is to implement the two proven solutions. Training and a Sensormatic system. 

TRAINING – Over the past 35 years I have heard countless retailers say the same thing. “I don’t know what I can or cannot do with or about shoplifters”. Shoplifters are no different than any other business challenge we face. Attack it head-on. Loss Prevention Systems can educate you on what you can and cannot do. But more importantly, we will take you off the defensive and put you on the offense. Now I know what you may be thinking right now. “I am not going to chase shoplifters down and tackle them!”. Well, I am glad we got that out because we do not want you to do that either. We want to prevent the loss from occurring (that’s why we call ourselves Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. What a coincidence, huh?).  

Training should cover a discussion of the problem itself, the law both criminal and civil, who shoplifters are and how to spot them before they even steal, going on the offensive with customer service tactics and more. We do this live via webinar with as many of your folks as you can pull together. I have actually found that most of the time we need to do two sessions so we do not leave the store short staffed or someone misses out. Training will help give you the confidence to attack the shoplifting scourge head-on. 

SENSORMATIC SYSTEM – “So if I am trained, why do I need a Sensormatic system and Sensormatic security labels?” Great question, glad you asked that! (sorry, I am in one of those moods) Consider this, training is only half of the solution. You and your staff can be trained up in the techniques to prevent and deal with shoplifting but you cannot be everywhere at once, even in a small boutique. Shoplifters WILL create an environment where they can steal. On top of that what you will find is that some of your “best” customers are also actually stealing from you. Yes, that good customer is buying merchandise, either small inexpensive items or even more expensive ones but they are actually stealing other merchandise in addition to that. And because they are a “best” or frequently seen customer less attention is paid to their activities. They are kind of a fixture, they hang out a bit, joke with the staff, ask questions and then…. They are simply not observed because “that’s just Sam or Wendy, they are really nice”. 

So to handle all that you will find that a Sensormatic system is actually cheaper than additional payroll. In addition to that, the Sensormatic system never takes a day off, does not call in sick or no show. The Sensormatic system is working 24/7. Actually, many of our systems actually power themselves down after you close to save on your energy bill. They automatically wake themselves up when you come in the next day. 

A Sensormatic system has two benefits. It sends a message to the thieves (real customers do not care) and prevents losses. And, of course, the tags and labels are actually protecting your merchandise and bottom line. 

So there are no more excuses. Make this year the best yet for sales you make and actually keep the margin make on the bottom line. Grinch, GO AWAY! Contact us today. We can make both Training and a Sensormatic system your reality. 


Resolved Or Solved? How Planning Can Make New Year’s Resolutions Work

Have you ever noticed how we all anticipate a New Year will bring new and exciting things into our lives (or businesses) but after the first month we often realize that nothing is new or improved or better? In fact, we may be disappointed as the year progresses that problems we hoped would be resolved (read, “magically disappear”) are still there. We make resolutions at the beginning of the year that are meant to help “improve” or “fix” something we know is an opportunity but then we slide back into our routines and those “problems” don’t get any better.

     In retail, those problems may involve personnel issues such as hiring and retention. Concerns may be for store profitability including expenses, sales, and shortage. Maybe concerns are over what may be classified non-controllable expenses, building rent, taxes, etc. Wishing problems away is not a solution nor is a resolution. If you want to resolve to solve problems you have you need to create an actual action plan and then take a partner(s) to stick to it, often one of your store managers or department management team. As you look at the areas of opportunity and break them down you can find that correcting one area can make a significant impact on other areas. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

e.g You identify that you have an issue with excessively high merchandise shrink.

      You need to identify all of the possible causes of the shortage problem.

  1. Do you use retail anti-theft devices?
  2. If you use a Sensormatic security system are you tagging everything?
  3. What areas are your highest shortage departments and are they vendor serviced?
    • If they are vendor serviced are you checking in and out vendors?
    • Are you improperly tossing out of date merchandise rather than receiving vendor credits?  
  4. Is employee theft causing shrinkage you haven’t seen?
    • Do you complete pre-employment background checks before hiring?
    • Do you require pre-employment drug screening?
    • Do you know the signals to look for that would indicate an employee may be stealing?
  5. Do you control your compactor and who throws out the trash and if you have a baler who is crushing cardboard?
    • Employees and vendors who are stealing and have access to a compactor will toss out the empty packages they would otherwise leave behind.
    • Uncontrolled compactors mean anyone can throw away anything that looks like trash but some small items can be overlooked and thrown away and cause a shortage.

These are not all of the contributors to a shortage. You can continue to drill down and I would encourage you and your team to do so. The project doesn’t stop there. Once you have identified the issues you need to create an action plan to address each concern. The plan should also include benchmarks or measurements that will show you are doing what you said you would do. There must also be deadlines for completion.

     There are areas that will cross over and can be beneficial to each section. Let’s say that you have focused on shortage and you also believe you have a hiring/retention problem. It seems people are going in and out like a revolving door. You have to ask yourself are you hiring the right people in the first place. If your employees keep leaving it could be they have stolen from you to get what they want and they are leaving before you catch on to them. If you start doing background checks you will be more selective in who you are bringing on your team. You may have been hiring a lot of people with criminal records or spotty work histories. Being selective and hiring the right people can also build a more dependable workforce. This leads to improved morale, more initiative and a better work ethic overall. Improving your hiring can improve shortage results due to dishonest employee activity.

     Another example of crossover would be compactor controls. Start regulating who is tossing out the trash and you impact retail shrinkage but you may also find that merchandise that was being overlooked is now being stocked more carefully. Overlooked items are getting back on the sales floor. Not only do you reduce shortage you improve sales.

     Wishing the New Year will bring improvements is no way to operate a business. Planning and follow through on those plans will bring about the positive changes you want to see. Resolve that 2019 will be a year of growth and profitable sales! Happy New Year!


          

New Year’s Resolutions That Help The Environment And Can Keep Stores Profitable

It’s 2019 and time to make some New Year’s resolutions! We all know how easy a resolution can be to make but they are hard to keep. We also know that it is just as easy to break a resolution but are there resolutions a store owner can make that would benefit the store AND benefit society? I think one resolution that would be mutually beneficial for both would be the implementation of environment-friendly policies and procedures. We are talking about sensible measures that would appeal to anyone on either side of the political spectrum. Right now there is a big push for the elimination of plastic shopping bags. There are also those opposed to going back to paper bags. What could the solution be? Try encouraging the use of recyclable, reusable shopping bags for your customers. You make those opposed to one-time use bags happy and you save money on the need to regularly purchase more shopping bags (which can be a rather pricey supply on your monthly expense report). To implement this type of change you would want to have reusable bags ready for your customers and you might even give them away for the first few weeks you start the program. After that, you might give customers a small discount to customers who bring their own bags, say 1% on every transaction.

     Problems that may arise by allowing recycled bags into the store. The first concern is the potential for increased shoplifting. Inviting customers to bring their bags into the store to bag groceries is going to make shoplifting that much easier. Thieves already walk by unattended cash registers to pick up plastic shopping bags as they enter the store. They fill them up, look like any other customer who has made a purchase at an in-store terminal and they leave. Most customers are honest but I would remind readers that one of the necessary ingredients for shoplifting is opportunity. Without opportunity, some people who may be tempted to steal for a thrill are kept in check. You provide opportunity by permitting reusable bags and some will take advantage of it. You also have to think, are the bags only allowed at the checkout stand? How do you keep shoppers from filling them up as a convenience rather than using a shopping cart? How do you monitor the shoppers for those who may be stealing and those who are simply picking up merchandise for purchase? It can lead to problems for store owners.

     There is a way to allow the use of shopping bags and minimize the risk of increased shoplifting and that is the installation of an electronic article surveillance system (EAS). If you are going to resolve to help the environment you can still do it just by adding an EAS System in your store if you don’t already have one. You tag all of your merchandise with EAS tags or labels depending on what the merchandise is or how you strategize your theft prevention procedures. If a shopper has concealed merchandise in a bag they brought in and did not pay for it the alarm is going to be activated and your employees will respond to it.

     Since we are on the topic of being environmentally responsible it is important that retailers know that many EAS tags are built out of recyclable materials. Hard tags can be used multiple times to tag and re-tag merchandise thereby saving on the need for constantly purchasing new tags and since they are recyclable they help the environment. It should also be noted a lot of Sensormatic systems help to reduce power consumption. When the systems are not in use (during non-working store hours) they go into a power saver mode. Stores save money and wasted energy. The use of EAS loss prevention equipment saves stores money by preventing theft and it allows stores the ability to appeal to their environmentally focused customers thus driving sales.

     Another environment-friendly step you can make as a retailer is to look at recycling those cardboard boxes your merchandise is shipped in. A cardboard bale can bring in anywhere from $10 to $20 a ton. If this does not seem like a cost-effective move for your store you could try partnering with a neighboring store and combine efforts. It isn’t a lot of money but it does keep cardboard out of landfills and you can advertise that to your customers.

     Resolutions may not be easy to keep but once you start down the road of using merchandise protection and you see the money you save in shortage and how easy it is to implement you won’t find it difficult to stay on track. In 2019, resolve to make some changes that will help the environment and make your store more profitable at the same time.


Tips That I Wish I Had Learned Before Entering Loss Prevention      

Loss Prevention is a wonderful career choice that can lead to other positions in retail. There are, however tips I wish I had known before I began the job that would have prepared me for the adventure I was about to embark on. I started out in a Loss Prevention Associate position after spending four years as a U.S. Air Force Law Enforcement Specialist and another 2 ½ years earning a Bachelor’s Degree.  I was offered the position and to be honest I went into it with the mindset that this was a Law Enforcement position in civilian clothing. There was nothing that really dissuaded me from the notion as I was taught to catch shoplifters, use closed circuit television cameras and electronic article surveillance equipment. I assisted with employee theft cases but these were few and far between. It was not until later when I had been a Loss Prevention Manager for several years before I started to understand the real role of Loss Prevention in a store. With this is mind there are some things that I would like share with those entering the profession that can be eye opening and prepare them for the job ahead.

  • You are not the retail police – Unfortunately it is easy to fall into the trap of believing you are an arm of the police department. You aren’t. You can and should build strong partnerships with police but you are not protecting the community. Your job is to make your store profitable. You need to learn about stock shortage and all of the ways it happens. Yes, you need to learn to identify, prevent and maybe catch shoplifters. You also need to add to that knowledge how employee theft occurs, how to identify it and investigate it. You also need to understand vendor processes, how to read invoices and credits. You should spend time learning and stocking freight and where operational shortage takes place. Become intimately familiar with cashiering procedures and cash office functions. Each of these areas of responsibility impact store profits and the more you know the better you become at multiple areas of the store.
  • Hiring and Supervision – You may only be starting as a Loss Prevention Associate but if you are smart you will partner with the hiring manager. Ask to be part of the store application review process. Learn to look for the red flags on a candidate’s application or resume that could spell trouble if that person is hired. You can be a valuable partner in helping in the hiring process. As a Loss Prevention Manager you will review applications, resumes and conduct the interviews. You will need to know your company’s hiring process and whether it includes a drug test or background check. While we are discussing it lets also talk about who you decide to hire. Hire people with skill sets that are different from yours. While I would not discourage you from hiring someone with Loss Prevention experience be mindful that that candidate may be more difficult to train. They will bring along training from other retailers that may not be in keeping with your store best practices.
  • Trainer and Leader – Get ready to train others and not just Loss Prevention personnel. You will be training store associates on electronic article surveillance alarm response. You will train cashiers on till tap and short change artist prevention. You will train employees on robbery procedures. You may work with the stock team on how to identify mis-shipped merchandise. Show them how improper stocking affects shortage and inaccurate merchandise reordering. You could be required to conduct new hire orientations. You will also instill in the whole team the importance of customer service as a means of reducing theft but also how it drives sales. As a leader you will request appointments to meet with other managers and discuss operational matters. The more informed you are in how things work the better prepared you can be to help improve operational procedures.

Clearly there is much more that a Loss Prevention professional can add to the store than just being a person who catches shoplifters.

     The core roles and responsibilities of the Loss Prevention team entail the reduction of retail shrinkage and even maintaining a safe shopping environment. You may not be a first responder but you could be the first person called to an accident inside or outside the store. Frequently it is the Loss Prevention personnel who are first called to find a lost car, lost child or stolen purse. You will be the one who has to calm an irate customer. Learn from these tips I am sharing. You aren’t going to be a police officer, you are going to be a Retail Loss Prevention Professional and that is a quite a job!