How to reduce losses caused by theft at POS

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For some retailers, “many of the loss prevention procedures enacted at the point-of-sale are a result of a more stringent loss prevention program that starts with the hiring process as companies look for qualified candidates for all available positions,” Moraca says.

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“This also includes offering employee orientation and training opportunities for new hires and even current employees,” Moraca says. “For many companies, reminding all employees to keep their eyes open to detect and report potential breakdowns in procedures is a big part of any loss prevention program.”

Interact more with customers. In a sort of reverse social engineering tactic, retailers can help stop theft by engaging more with clients while they’re in the store.

“The most effective deterrent to a potential shoplifter is good customer service, Baillie says. “Making eye contact and acknowledging customers as they enter the store. The last thing a shoplifter wants is interaction with a store employee.”

The shoplifter’s goal is to enter and exit the store with unpaid for merchandise, without being noticed, Baillie says, and this type of engagement can help work against that.

Consider diversionary tactics. A company called Corrective Education Company (CEC) offers a program to first-time offenders who’ve been apprehended for shoplifting.

The way the program works, once an offender is apprehended, he is given the opportunity to hear about CEC and the merchant’s voluntary education program. The individual’s personal information is gathered and verified through public records databases to determine qualification for the program based on retailer protocol, local law enforcement and the local prosecutor.

After agreeing to learn about the program, the offender is shown a four-minute video about CEC’s, and can stop the process at any time and not participate. At the conclusion of the video the offender is given the opportunity to participate in a six-hour program, at his own expense, in lieu of having the case referred to the criminal justice system.

If the offender fails to complete the program the retailer has the option to file a criminal complaint. If the offender doesn’t want to participate in the retailer’s program or is ineligible due to prior illegal conduct, the matter is referred by the retailer to the criminal justice system, a company spokesman says.

CEC encourages participating retailers to reach out to local law enforcement before implementing the program, in an effort to keep them informed and to gain their support, the company says. Since its inception more than 20,000 participants have gone through the program.

Create the right corporate culture. Anti-theft technologies and tactics are helpful, but they’re not enough.

“All the tools in the world are not a replacement for the most critical foundation needed to prevent, isolate and resolve retail losses, and that is a corporate culture focused on mitigating loss,” says Keith Aubele, president & CEO of Retail Loss Prevention Group, a consulting firm.

“When a top down ownership/executive C-suite culture exists that truly understands loss impact via shrink to profitability, as well as the many negative societal outcomes from retail crime, then true prevention can occur,” Aubele says.

This cultural element “is key, in that once the basic barriers to loss are mitigated by employees who understand the impact of loss through training, awareness, reinforcement, and partnership, it's then that sound tools can be deployed with greater impact,” Aubele says. “Essentially, get your house in order first before looking for external help.”

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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