How to Prevent Shoplifting in Your Retail Store

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Are you doing enough to protect your retail store from shoplifting?

Shoplifting and theft can have grave consequences for your business. They eat away your profits and cost you thousands of rands in lost revenue. Protecting inventory should be a priority for all retailers because their merchandise is the key investment and source of revenue. There’s nothing more disheartening that realizing that your store has been targeted by shoplifters.

But, since retail stores are most vulnerable to theft, the only way to prevent them is to tighten security and implement smart security measures around the store. If you’re an owner of a retail shop, the chances are that you will often notice open packages, missing sale items, and products disappearing from your stock and shelves in thin air without any documentation or record of the purchase. This mysterious disappearance of products from your retail shop is likely due to shoplifting and stealing. Most retail stores will experience shoplifting at one time or another. However, small retail store owners who aren’t in a financial position to fund advanced security measures are more vulnerable.

The good news is that, irrespective of your budget, you can implement techniques to reduce the incidence of shoplifting. NSG Security Guarding have combine Security and Technology to create a safe and secure environment so that business owners won’t be worrying about their inventory. The best way to “deal” with shoplifting is to stop it from taking place. Here are tips to help you do just that:

Install a 24/7/365 live video monitoring system

Nothing deters a shoplifter like the presence of a few visible cameras. They might believe they can get away with stealing in the moment, but the fear of having visual proof of their crime is usually enough to make them think twice. If a shoplifter does happen to take the risk of stealing from you, a 24/7/365 live video monitoring system will enable you to review footage and potentially identify the culprit. This can be helpful if you wish to prosecute, but the real benefit is seeing how individuals are taking advantage of your store. If you know which sections of your store individuals are shoplifting from and how they are going about it, you can take measures to prevent them. Installing a 24/7/365 live video monitoring system in your store will help you monitor your store at all times and look at video recordings to investigate retail theft when you need to.

NSG Security Guarding can install a 24/7/365 live video monitoring system.

A 24/7/365 live video monitoring system lets you monitor your store remotely when you are not present on-site. You can get live security alerts or view your store’s live feed through remote camera on your smartphone, anytime you want.

Hire a PSIRA Registered Security Company

Employing a PSIRA Registered Security Company will help your store reduce shoplifting, thieves, and criminals. A Security company with well-trained, experienced security guards will know how to create a safe and secure environment around your retail store so your employees can work comfortably, and your customers can shop safely.

An integrated security company will know when to deploy certain professional personnel at the site of crime and how to handle it. Hiring a PSIRA Registered Security Guard Company will give you the following benefits;

  • They will monitor your video surveillance system
  • They will keep a watchful eye over suspicious people
  • They will keep watch at store entrances and exits
  • They will act as a deterrent and their presence will discourage people from committing crimes.

Their strong security policies will help them take quick actions against unusual activities.

These are some of the ways to protect your retail business from thieves and shoplifters. At NSG Security Guarding, we make sure your retail store is secure, so there are no chances of any vandalism or shoplifting.

Identify Common Shoplifting Methods and Traits

While there isn’t a specific profile for shoplifters (thieves come in all shapes, ages, and races), retailers can curb shoplifting by recognizing a few common behaviors.

Shoplifters often work in pairs or larger groups so that there can be at least one person distracting the sales staff while the other proceeds to steal. The most common shoplifting method is hiding merchandise from sight. And here are some of the most common places where items are often quickly concealed:

  • Clothing
  • Handbags
  • Strollers
  • Umbrellas
  • Purchased Merchandise

Occasionally, you might get a bold shoplifter who quickly grabs an item and runs out, but other things to keep an eye on are price label switching and false returns.

Switching prices is precisely what it sounds like — a shoplifter will exchange an item’s price label with a less expensive item. While they may still be paying some portion of the item’s cost, this is still a form of theft. False returns are another form of customer deception. Often a customer will purchase a product, use it, and then return it under false pretenses. And while returns and exchanges don’t have to equate with a loss, it’s a common issue that retailers should watch out for.

You’ll also want to look for and keep these common shoplifters traits in mind when determining whether you should exercise caution or suspicion. Some of these specific shoplifter traits include:

  • Spending more time watching cashier or sales clerk than actually shopping
  • Taking several items into the dressing room but only leaving with one
  • Acts nervous and picks up random items with no interest

Depending on how long you’ve been in business, you’ll start developing your own sixth sense for when to sound the alarm and when to keep your cool when it comes to loss prevention.

Leverage Coordinated Customer Service to Your Advantage

Great customer service isn’t just a way to enhance the customer experience — it’s also an effective tactic to curb shoplifting.

It’s important to take effective store and staff management tactics and use them as a loss prevention tool. Here are a few customer service techniques to minimize opportunities to steal:

  • Greet each customer that walks through your door — this let them know that you’re aware of their presence
  • Depending on the size of your store, you’ll want to make sure you have an adequate number of floor staff at any given time
  • Create and implement a policy around bags brought in by customers (i.e. leaving large bags, tote bags, and backpacks behind the counter)
  • Train cashiers to watch price tags and have them be on the lookout for price switching
  • Have a code which enables staff to alert each other of suspicious activities

Creating these kinds of policies and training staff on shoplifting scenarios ahead of time can save you a ton of headaches that would occur from a more reactionary or ad-hoc approach.

Beware of peak shoplifting times

Most shoplifters strike when the store is at its busiest. Seasonal shoplifting matches high-demand shopping periods. Shoplifters are more likely to strike before Christmas, Easter, summertime and Black Fridays.

Maintain an organized store

When organizing products, many retailers consider how they can visually engage passersby, but often overlook how this organization can impact shoplifting. When deciding how to display your products make sure that you establish specific standards for how things should be shelved and positioned. It should be relatively easy for an employee to scan your store and see that a product is missing. If it isn’t, consider making a change.

Optimize Your Store’s Design and Layout for Theft Prevention

Place your checkout so that customers must pass it while exiting. Given that most consumers turn right upon entering, place your checkout prominent on the left-hand side. Also, make sure to never leave your register unlocked or unattended

To eliminate blind spots in corners that shoplifters might use for hiding, make sure you install mirrors while making sure there’s adequate lighting in all areas.

  • Keep your fixtures and displays low for increased visibility
  • Keep small or expensive items in locked cabinets
  • Keep dressing rooms locked and limit the number of items taken in by each customer
  • You can also compare notes with neighboring retailers and ask for suggestions based on their experience.   

Put Up Security Signs

Installing security signs in areas that are not clearly visible to the shopkeepers is an inexpensive way to discourage customers from shoplifting. Putting up signs that mention legal action against shoplifters will discourage them from taking the risk. Interesting security signs like “smile, you are on camera” will help warn people without being impolite. Visual cues can be a high-impact and cost-effective means of warding off potential shoplifters. Not only do they stay put 24/7 while shoppers and staff move in and out of your sight line, but anti-theft signs can dissuade potential shoplifters much like a security monitoring system sign at home will dissuade a burglar.

  • Place a sign at or near your front door as it’s often the first place shoppers look
  • Instead of wasting precious shelf or floor space with your signs, place them up high where shoplifters will most likely check for surveillance cameras
  • The language on the signs should reflect your company’s brand and consider your target clientele

Train Your Staff

Educating your staff on how to prevent theft around the store can go a long way. For example, a thief or a shoplifter, unlike regular customers, would want to stay anonymous and avoid making contact with any of the store employees.  Recognize the signs

  • Educate your staff on how to spot potential shoplifters. Signs of suspicious behavior include:
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Looks at the staff instead of the products
  • Goes in and out of the store repeatedly without completing a sale
  • Wears bulky clothing (i.e. jackets or coats) when unnecessary
  • Enters with a large group

However, if your employees are trained about this behavior, they’ll immediately catch anyone trying to harm your store.

Another good way to dissuade thieves is to greet everyone that walks into your store. Genuine eye-contact and greetings will change their mind about stealing because they’ll now be afraid of getting identified.

You should also keep in mind that stealing might be an inside job, and proactive training programs can help discourage employee theft.

Screen New Employees

Employee theft costs businesses billions of rands a year. Training your staff will only work if you have trustworthy employees. To ensure that your store is in safe hands, screen all your job candidates before hiring. Also, brief them about your store’s security policy and what you expect from them.

Interested in a security monitoring system?

While these tips should help you deter shoplifters, the best way to improve the security of your retail store is to hire a Psira Registered Security Company to partner with and create a custom security system that aligns with your needs. Here at NSG Security Guarding, we will work with you to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your business and help you determine what services you can benefit from. Just click here to get in touch with us or call 013 110 2560 / 081 895 4462 today to secure your shops.

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