An older man with a security shirt and cap is on the escalators of a shopping center looking at the patrons.
Business & Finance

10 Management Tips That Prevent Retail Theft

An older man with a security shirt and cap is on the escalators of a shopping center looking at the patrons.

In a perfect world, the owners of retail businesses would be able to account for all of their inventory and be assured that they will be fairly compensated for all of the items on their store’s shelves. Sadly, shoplifting is a reality for almost all retail businesses. Thieves don’t care about how much time and passion you’ve invested into your store, they only care about themselves and getting something for nothing.

Shoplifting is often done by peer pressure or people that are not in the right state of mind. This can include thinking that it’s too easy or harmless. This is not true. However, you can Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of inventory loss that your business suffers due to shoplifting. Here are four management tips that will help you to combat retail theft.

Create a Strong and Passionate Team

When a retail associate thinks of their role as “just a job” and doesn’t feel respected by their managers, they’re less likely to care if customers shoplift, even when it’s occurring right in front of their eyes. After all, they don’t feel respected by the company, so they feel no loyalty towards their employer or the store’s bottom line. This is why it’s important that your employees feel respected, appreciated and valued. The more appreciation you show your employees, the more loyalty they will show to your business.

Use Digital Price Tags

Digital price tags reduce the amount of shoplifting that occurs at the register. Remember, not all thieves shove items into their bags and then attempt to sneak out of the store. Instead, some will switch labels and tags around so that a more expensive item rings up for cheaper at the register. By using a digital price tag that’s connected to the item’s serial number, thieves are unable to utilize this scam to steal from you.

Invest in Security

If your business is located in an area with a high rate of theft, it might be a good idea to invest in security. When a retail location has onsite security guards and plainly visible security cameras, thieves become very skittish about attempting to shoplift. Remember, most shoplifters are petrified about the idea of being caught and prosecuted by law enforcement, especially if they’ve been convicted for similar offenses in the past.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Firm

Many business owners are so afraid of alienating customers that they’ll create an environment that’s inadvertently hospitable to thieves. Don’t be afraid to be firm with customers who seem suspicious. It’s perfectly fine to ask a customer to leave large bags at the register while they shop or to limit the amount of items they take with them into a fitting room.

Unconscious Bias

Make sure that you train your staff on unconscious bias. This can be the attitudes and beliefs we have towards a group of people without realizing we are doing it. For example, many people are socialized to think that people with darker skintones are untrustworthy. This can lead to racial profiling. However, you should have your staff be able to recognize this within themselves and combat their own prejudices. This is why they should be as vigilant on the affluent middle aged mom than with the brown teenager. Have their actions determine if they look like they are hiding something, not their race or age. This is morally wrong and can lead to a discrimination lawsuit.

Security Tag Placement

There are certain higher cost ticket items that come with a variety of security devices. This can be a tag, a sticker, or an ink tag. Sometimes, these are hidden in a product and can be unseen by the register. This leads to paying customers to take home products with a tag. This mean they will have to come back and they may be faced with a shoplifting accusation. This is uncomfortable and unfair to your customer. Make sure that you are able to separate this instance to one of shoplifting by being strategic about placement and removal in the first place.

Merchandize Loss Specialist

If you have a store that has a lot of traffic and merchandize that is easy to conceal then consider having a merchandize loss specialist on hand. They can wear a black polo with their title and stand out from the rest of the employees. While not security, they can keep an eye out for behavior that is out of the ordinary. Many stores like Ross Dress For Less have them greet customers which sets the tone for those that were thinking they could get away with funny business.

Locked Items

There are many higher ticket items that are behind the counter or in a locked display case. This is to allow people to see the merchandize, but to be able to keep it clean and out of the hands of the public. An example is jewelry. These items can be shown to the customer, but will be taken out by an employee and they will have 1 on 1 interactions with the guest. This keeps them from being slipped into a purse or pocket.

You have larger items like electronics that are held behind a counter and will have to be unlocked for purchase. This is usually because of the high ticket price.. You don’t want them concealed in a cart with blankets or clothing on top. This is another way that you can make sure that they go directly to a cash register and are not left in the sales floor.

Bathroom and Fitting Room Signage

Many people feel tempted that they can wear merchandize out of the store if they are concealing it underneath their own clothing. This is why it’s a great idea to have reminders in the bathrooms and in the fitting rooms that you are a store that will persecute shoplifters and with reminders that it can lead to a criminal record. This can persuade people from doing something stupid and can snap them out of their impulses. You won’t convince everyone, but can help those that maybe felt pressured to think again.

Attentive Staff

If you have friendly staff that is attentive to your customers they should be asking if people need help finding anything. Not only does this create a better shopping experience, but you can let people know about specials and sales. This also keeps your sales floor with a pair of fresh eyes. While having security is great, it’s usually less stressful t have a friendly face be the one that is hovering over your shopping experience. Instead of starting out with accusatory statements without proof, asking for help is a way to let a customer know you see them. This can be helpful and a friendly warning.

If you follow these tips, you can reduce the amount of shoplifting that your business suffers. Remember, your business is your investment and you have every right to protect it. You can use a variety of tools to make sure that you are able to keep your business safe.