Retail Theft Prevention Guide

The UK retail sector makes a tremendously important contribution to the economy: according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the sector employs three million people and retail sales add up to £321 billion or 20% of GDP.

However, the sector continues to be plagued by retail crime, with the BRC estimating the total value of retail crime at £1.6 billion in its 2012 Retail Crime Survey. Although this figure is quite staggering, it may only be the tip of the iceberg as retailers are estimated to report only 9% of customer theft.

Unlike the USA, where the biggest threat facing retailers is employee theft, customer theft accounts for a whopping 52% of theft in the UK, with employee theft only responsible for 5%, by direct cost. With e-commerce increasing in importance, it’s no surprise that cybercrime and e-fraud on the up, accounting for 41% of retail crime. Here are some suggested measures for retail loss prevention that should be on your radar:

 Security Steps To Take

  • Invest in staffing levels that are high enough to ensure that staff are visible and present in adequate numbers to cover the sales floor. Train staff to approach customers and greet them so that shoplifters know they are there. Even if the customer says that they are “just looking”, employees can reply “Great, I’ll be just over there if you need any help”. The shoplifter doesn’t want to hear that staff are in close proximity.
  •  Items of high value should be close to employees and they should be in in clear view. Don’t block their view with displays or other merchandising. Keeping down the number of high value items on display will make it easier to keep track of them and notice if anything is missing.
  •  Use technology: Such as EAS (electronic article surveillance), merchandise alarms, CCTV, ink/dye tags and bulky packaging. Also ensure that staff adhere to policies regarding technology, such as activation, attaching and detaching.
  •  Analytics: Data analysis is not just for sales figures. It can also help you with understanding theft. Analyse the items that are stolen – identify what is stolen most often and what is easily stolen. Identify other factors and trends such as their location and their packaging and make some changes. Then analyse the figures again to understand which changes bring about improvements.
  •  Employ common sense measures, such as keeping product displays away from exits.
  •  Watch out for common ploys such as making sure that an item sold does not contain another item inside or that bar-codes have been switched to show a lower price.
  •  Participate in any local partnerships or crime prevention initiatives. This could be particularly helpful to stay in the loop regarding any organised crime intelligence, such as information about an organised group moving into a city or town or designer goods being stolen to order.

Although employee theft is less prevalent in the UK than the USA, each theft costs nearly seven times more than a theft committed by a customer. Consider processes and procedures to eliminate processed and approved by the same person. Ensure that deliveries that are signed for by one person and counted in by someone else.

Finally, work closely with a security company with expertise in the sector, such as AOS Security to implement retail loss prevention measures. With access to the latest technology and best practices, AOS Security tailors security solutions to best meet client needs. Read the retail success story.

This article is contributed by Accent on Security – a British security firm, which provides security solutions across a wide range of sectors in the UK and has expertise in the field of construction site security.

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