With all of the technology available for improving security and the customer service experience, loss prevention remains staggeringly high. Retailers can improve the customer experience through technology while also understanding how to mitigate the security risks technology can create.
Below are some key technology trends retailers are implementing, but they still need to have checks and balances.
Facial recognition systems can benefit retailers by identifying when key clients are in the store, recognizing when a suspect has trespassed and identify recurring shoplifters.
Retailers must remember they still require a trained professional to review and analyze the facial recognition system at all times. They also need to have a support team to act on potential threats. Even when facial recognition technology is programmed correctly, there is still the possibility of errors to occurring for various reasons such as disguises, image clarity, power outages, etc.
Prepaid cards make a great gift or reward, but it has also created a criminal industry that is on the rise. Some retailers are no longer accepting prepaid cards as a form of payment.
Retailers and financial institutions are looking into checks and balances to support the customer, hoping to continue the use of prepaid cards.
Self-payment systems are beneficial for grocery and big box stores, but retailers still need to have physical security presence, aside from technology, to help monitor purchases to avoid shoplifting or accidental theft.
With the holiday season is fast approaching, retailers need to ensure loss prevention practices become part of their everyday routine.
Security is not an illusion – meaning your customers need to know that you are a security-minded store. All personnel must be included in your security program. Having security presence is also a great way to deter and prevent theft. Customers do not enter a store with the intent to steal – 80% of robberies happen when a customer sees an opportunity.
Below are some additional tips:
The best theft deterrent is great customer service
Thieves do not like attention and need to be left alone to have the opportunity to steal
Identify key areas of concern and turn them into hot zones for customer engagement
Ensure all employees know which areas are the highest priority
Identify the areas on a store map if available
Ask employees to walk through the hot zones frequently
Treat everyone who walks through your doors as a potential customer
Thieves will not always exhibit the same behaviour – train all staff to approach each person and offer great customer service
Make it apparent to thieves that you take security seriously and ensure the measures you have in place are well displayed
To learn more about how ASAP Secured can help with loss prevention please visit: www.asapsecured.com
Over the years, I have seen the role of a loss prevention investigator change dramatically. There are so many variances to the job description that to find a loss prevention investigator to support your needs of the client is becoming more and more difficult.
All loss prevention investigators follow the same five steps to apprehend a shoplifter. However, due to all the liabilities associated with the role, the requirements of how to mitigate these risks have altered the duty to whether a loss prevention investigator should apprehend or deter. Some are being asked not to arrest, wear a uniform, and work with store associates to have the suspects ‘customer serviced’. This new approach to loss prevention is making it more and more difficult to find loss prevention skillsets.
When I interview for loss prevention positions, many of the candidates have loss prevention experience but no formal training or certification. Even at a provincial level, there doesn’t seem to be a training model on consensus or requirements.
We need to evaluate a standard, ensuring that all loss prevention investigators are properly trained. With such a highly liable roll and no standard of training begs the question if this should be a focus for the industry?
Quite often we see empty warehouse units that are used for selling mass products over a short period of time. There is usually a huge banner in the front of the warehouse that tells you what sale is going on. They have great sales and I do love good deals, but sometimes these sales can be stolen items. I try to only go to manufacturer supported ware house sales. But the other day, I was taken back when I heard that the warehouse sale I went to was suspected to be full of stolen products. I really thought this sale was endorsed by the manufacturer themselves. The reality is that many honest shoppers have no idea they may be buying stolen items. Stolen products can be sold to buyers in stores, warehouses, and flea markets to name a few. I am definitely not painting every warehouse sale or flea market with the same brush. But I do not want to contribute to the purchase of any part of the supply chain of stolen goods. Getting these great deals and closing your eyes to where they came from is one way to support cargo theft. If these thieves know they can sell these products, then the vicious cycle of organized crime through cargo theft continues. Cargo theft is estimated at $5 billion a year in Canada alone. Unfortunately, these crimes are rarely publicized. The manufacturing and/or distribution channels do not want to publicize their product being stolen to protect their brand reputation and/or minimize insurance costs. The average consumer has no idea that these products are a result of cargo crime.
The stolen products range from electronics, cars, alcohol, food, and various household items. At a recent raid, York Region Police recovered a truckload of stolen candy worth more than $200,000. As a consumer, I would never imagine that buying candy for my kids at a store may have been stolen. We as buyers need to educate ourselves on what is legit and what stores are potentially supporting organized crime. The supply chain from manufacturing, transportation to distribution need to also contribute to preventing theft through due diligence. You can minimize the impact of cargo theft by becoming educated on cargo security, truck-hijacking-robbery-training, vendor recruitment driver validation and point-to-point escorts.
Last November, CTV News W5 gave their viewers a taste to how serious this issue is in Canada. Watch Video Here.
The holiday season is great for retailers. It is the time to increase sales and make those numbers. As a security professional servicing retailers, protecting our customers’ assets is constantly on my mind. Even on Christmas Day, security personnel dedicated their holidays to make sure that the buildings were protected in preparation for when businesses opened. While I enjoyed time with my family, in back of my mind I was thinking about Boxing Day and how we needed to be prepared to mitigate all risks. For ASAP, we had to formulate back up plans to ensure our services for our retail clients during one of Canada’s busiest retail days. Malls were going to be swamped with customers getting great deals. Security needed to be in full deployment. Traffic control, crowd control, and loss prevention are all required key elements. In additional to these security concerns, is the possibility of an active shooter. The reality is, Canadians are now exposed to terrorism as well, and security needs to be ready to identify vulnerabilities and mitigate risk.
At ASAP, every manager across the country, including our president Han Koren, is provided a zone on Boxing Day to support the security personnel on the field. We are up at 4:00am to get to the malls to ensure that all is going smooth.
Prior to Boxing Day, we connect with our clients to ensure that we are there to support and provide the security program our customers expect. Mall security needs to focus on all common spaces, manage traffic control, crowd control as well as criminal groups of any kind as a possible threat to the retailers. Security personnel at the stores need to watch for theft, credit card fraud, and counterfeit cash.
There are many security measures that contribute to deterring fraud in a retail setting. In a perfect world, the only goal for retailers is to focus on selling their product. But in reality, understanding the product and selling is now only one element to the role of a sales associate.
Sales associates need to have an understanding of loss prevention in order to support their security program. Fraud attacks the retail industry through many channels. A security program is part of doing business for most retailers. A program can encompass many different elements such as:
Data Analysis and Trending
Inventory and Shrink
External Theft with Countless Shoplifting Techniques
There are distinct roles that are required in a retail setting when it comes to a sucessful security program. Loss prevention investigators can focus on areas of internal theft as well as support the retailer to apprehend shoplifters. Security guards can support inventory control measures and work diligently towards deterrence.
The right security expert will support your budget and help create a program that works for your company.