An Accurate, Successful Inventory Is Not Due To The Luck Of The Irish

How does Notre Dame’s football team manage to maintain a top program year in and year out? Is it the Luck of the Irish that does it? No, they field a competitive team by working hard and preparing for the upcoming season. As we enter March we think of spring and St. Patrick’s Day and the Luck of the Irish and lucky four-leaf clovers and all of these things. In retail, we also think about store inventory time and how the results will come out this year.

     If you are counting on the Luck of the Irish or just plain luck to get you through inventory and wind up with successful results you need to get a better plan. Obtaining inventory results that reflect a healthy, robust business starts well before the inventory date. While it may include the preparation time several weeks in advance of the actual day/night of inventory counting the real work begins when you start your shortage action plan.

     If this is the first inventory for your store you will not have a measurement or prior inventory as a baseline for what you will be up against. I would suggest that in your case you measure your store against the national shortage average OR you measure it against the national shortage average for your type of retail business. According to the National Retail Federation 2018 National Retail Security Survey, shoplifting accounted for 35.7% of losses while employee theft accounted for 33.2%. Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. personnel are well-versed in shortage and can be a helpful consultant to you in this area. For those who have inventoried previously you want to lower whatever the prior year shortage results were for your store. Obviously it would be fantastic if zero shortage could be counted on year in and year out but the fact of the matter is very few stores will come in at zero (I have seen overages but those always offset the next year due to poor counts or paperwork errors).

     So where does one start in their planning? First you have to look at your anti-theft strategies. With nearly 70% of the shortage attributable to theft you can take care of a big chunk of shortage by addressing this issue. Is your store using electronic article surveillance equipment to deter and prevent shoplifting and even employee theft? If you do not have an electronic article surveillance system in your first assignment is to get one. This includes the towers, tags, and even integrated cameras. Don’t use second-hand equipment or an off-brand system in your store. Using a name brand solution from Sensormatic is the best option and it is more affordable than you may think. Again, Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. can guide you into the best solution for your business no matter how big or small it may be.

     You then need to take a look at the other areas that impact shortage, operations, vendor shortage and a small portion which is undefined. Looking at each of these aspects can be time-consuming because there is so much that can impact each one. If you have managers working for you they should be looking at how shortage could be happening in their departments and present solutions to address them. That information then goes into a master shortage plan. If you are lucky you will have a team that knows where to look for shortage opportunities. If you don’t have that kind of luck or if you are the only manager for your store you are still lucky. Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. can work with you to conduct a risk assessment and identify vulnerabilities and devise plans.

     Finally, once your anti-theft system is up and running and your shortage action plans have been created you can spend the month prior to inventory prepping the store. There’s no magic to it, it is a detailed preparation to make sure every piece of merchandise is properly tagged and ready to be counted. Inspections of nooks, crannies, shelves, underneath base decks, on top of fixtures and in supply closets to locate items that have migrated where they should not have can add dollars back to your inventory.

     Four leaf clovers, lucky charms, wishful thinking nor luck of the Irish are going to get you a successful inventory. Theft prevention, careful planning and advice from people who have been in the Loss Prevention field WILL result in successful inventories. Follow this advice and find your own pot of gold at the end of the inventory rainbow.

Starting A Better Year

According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention-NASP-there are 27 million people that shoplift in the United States today. That is 1 in 11  people, and 75% of those people are adults.  Women shoplift as much as men, and in case you were getting ready to profile an individual, there is no such thing as a profile of a typical shoplifter.

The busiest shopping season has passed, and if you haven’t taken inventory or are in the process of conducting one, you will realized the losses you suffered.  For many stores across the country, the holiday season is the busiest season for sales and hopefully profits, but is also the busiest time for shoplifters. One will hope that shoplifting stops when the holiday season ends, but as always, shoplifting is a year long crime that never ends.

What is there to do then?  Vigilance and preparation can help you prevent some of the shoplifting that happens at your store.

Did you know that good customer service can help you prevent some of the shoplifting at your store?

  1. Greet every customer that enters your store and ask them if they need any help
  2. Place high value items behind registers or locked up.  If they want the item, they need to have a person helping them unlock it.
  3. Have visible signs alerting the customer you will prosecute in case of shoplifting.
  4. Make the promise  of prosecuting true.  Believe it or not, shoplifters know which stores are easy target. Which stores have poor security, and which stores cannot really prosecute the shoplifter.
  5. If you check social media platforms, you will realize that there are groups of individuals that ask advice about which store they should target.  The help from other shoplifters is amazing, but you can learn whether your store is targeted and how they go about it.

Prevention, trained personnel, and clear policies and procedures can help your store and profits stay afloat.  The policies and procedures from store to store will change, but the underlying goal is the same.  Prevent losses or at least minimize the amount your store losses to shoplifting and employee theft by having clear goals and exceptionally well trained employees.