At the beginning of the year, stats were released that showed that UK shop owners lost £613m due to theft – shockingly, these are the highest levels since records began.
The survey conducted by the British Retail Consortium blamed the rise on criminal gangs stealing luxury and high-end goods to order.
However, regardless of how big or small the retail store may be, all types of shop owners are susceptible to the widespread problem of shoplifting and with the Christmas season upon us there’s no telling what shoplifters will be up to this holiday.
Therefore, it is critical that you take prompt measures to protect your business this Christmas. To help, we’ve put together this quick guide to protecting your business:
Analyse Store Risks
There are plenty of actions you can take to reduce retail theft. The ideal theft-prevention option will depend on the size of your store, your budget and the size of your theft problem. Identify your most desirable and targeted stock. Products that can be easily concealed are popular targets, as are impulse buys such as cosmetics, CD’s, DVD’s, clothing, accessories and small electronics like earphones. Once you know what’s at the highest risk of being stolen, you can choose the most appropriate approach for your situation including keeping stock closer to the till or checkout area and in plain sight.
Without an inventory management system, it’s nearly impossible to know what’s being stolen, how much is being taken, and or the effect of retail theft on your business. Therefore, one of the most crucial steps in retail theft prevention is to include inventory management and sales tracking. In today’s day and age, it’s easy to get affordable inventory management software that can be customised to your business preferences and cross referenced with your manual inventory checks.
In general security cameras are a great option for reducing retail theft. Cameras provide an obvious visual deterrent to thieves while also allowing you to check on employees/customers. Cameras are especially effective when they’re big enough to see clearly and paired with a monitor that is placed in a public space. Keep displays and shelves low, and install adequate lighting. If you deal with high-end merchandise, consider a full-time security guard.
Educating your employees on how to spot potential festive shoplifters and dishonest employees will help them to maintain awareness, however when things get busy they could become distracted. In situations such as this the use of security tags and door alarms can act as a helpful theft detector and deterrent.
Shop Floor Policies
Creating shop floor policies and procedures for shoplifting is important. If there is an incident of theft, you and your staff should be prepared to handle the situation. You want to consider a policy that is fair but firm. If you take theft seriously and shoplifters get the word that you are not afraid to prosecute, many shoplifters will avoid stealing from your business.
Customer service techniques, store design and technology have a significant role to play in store theft prevention. If your shops position is to prosecute all shoplifters, put up signs displaying your policy.
There’s no way to completely protect yourself from customer and employee theft and shoplifting, but if your employees and customers are aware that you’re carefully monitoring your shop, that can go a long way in helping to reduce theft over the Christmas period.
One of the best ways to prevent shoplifting is to have alert employees on how to spot potential shoplifters.
Store employees need to watch out for the following:
- Customers who leave the store and return repeatedly
- Consistently avoid eye contact and keep an eye on store employees and other customers
- Customers who wander the store without buying anything appear nervous and linger the store where there are blind spots or where employees have a hard time monitoring.
There are also several strategies that will also help to curb employee theft. For instance you should run regular checks on petty cash, deposits and end-of-day till checks when cashing up.
Ultimately, if the worst should happen, shop insurance can be a lifesaver in the event of a major theft adding that extra protection for your business and its future.
Not only can shop insurance protect your shop against theft, it could also cover your building against other common risks including fire, theft flooding and vandalism – all major worries over the busy Christmas period.