tiles on desk spelling "shoplifting"

Retail losses due to theft were up in 2019, with each incident costing almost $600 on average. Each year, shoplifting and fraud cost the retail industry over $45 billion. This has a significant effect on margins and product availability.

An excellent strategy to prevent loss of merchandise starts with developing policies and procedures regarding shoplifting. Even if you’ve had some experience dealing with these very stressful situations, you should have a formal plan in place to guide you and your employees. With formal policies, each incident that occurs will help you reduce future risks and revenue loss.

Shoplifting Prevention Is A Matter of Policy

To minimize losses, you need to commit to prevention through a formal policy for shoplifting. This will set in motion the procedures that take place during a shoplifting event. Policies also describe how the store should be set up for prevention, eliminating blind spots to make it more difficult for someone to walk out with merchandise.

When making your policies, here are some things to consider:

  • Leniency Versus Prosecution:

You have a choice between setting a zero-tolerance policy or minimum qualifying dollar amount and age range. Zero tolerance may lead to lengthy processes dealing with prosecuting individuals and unwanted paperwork but remains a very effective deterrent. On the other hand, a more lenient policy may be fairer yet firm enough to recover lost items and monetary damages.

  • Confrontation Versus Deterrence:

To apprehend a suspect, you will need to know the specific laws regarding shoplifting, or else you may become the offending party in a lawsuit. Many retailers look at ways to deter shoplifting through store design and customer service that avoid physical contact and endangerment. Whichever you choose, you’ll need to train all of your employees on proper procedures and practice these often intense situations to reduce mistakes. A written policy will guide you and your employees through a potentially tricky confrontation.

Shoplifting Prevention Measures

Preventative measures ensure the safety of your patrons and employees. Here is a list of preventative measures that are worth the investment:

1. Security Cameras

Today, we can monitor our homes from a doorbell. Surveillance technology has come a long way, and it’s less expensive. Your store shouldn’t have any blind spots.

2. Store Layout

Keeping the most expensive items to the rear of the store is one way to deter a thief. There should also be plenty of space for employees to view customers between the aisles and keep the entrance and exit clear of merchandise.

3. Employee Training

Providing exemplary customer service will prevent more theft than any other measure you put in place. You can teach your employees how to be vigilant without being overbearing. Excellent customer service also eliminates discrimination and profiling because everyone is treated equally.

4. Organization

A disorganized store makes it easier for thieves to escape without notice, even on camera. When waiting for customers to finish browsing your store, you can have your employees put away misplaced items and rearrange shelves. This will allow your employees to be vigilant and not seem to hover over them and make them feel rushed.

Situational Awareness Aids Prevention

You are not alone in this because shoplifting is a problem for all retailers. The businesses in your neighborhood and throughout your local network can prevent shoplifting through awareness. If you don’t already, you should reach out to them through your local chamber or community action group.

Laws regarding shoplifting are very specific about witnesses and securing stolen items. These laws also define how storekeepers can detain suspects and how to treat vulnerable adults and minors. Each situation will be different and deserves a special awareness that comes through established policies and preventative measures.

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