As a small retailer, it may be tough to find the money to invest in high-tech surveillance equipment to keep an eye on potential thieves, and as a large retailer, it’s harder to keep an eye on every customer that walks in and out of your store. If not managed effectively, shoplifting can have a crippling overall impact on stock. So even if a low budget may seem an issue in preventing it, it’s important to get the issue under control, to prevent further budget issues through loss of stock.
Stocktake can always be a worry for shop owners, make sure all fears are put to rest with our top tips on how to stop unwanted visitors.
Identify common shoplifter methods
While there is no specific profile for a thief, shoplifting can be decreased by recognising common behaviours and tactics; these may even vary by area if larger shoplifting gangs operate. Shoplifters will sometimes work in groups together in a store to distract staff while other members take stock. Ask other local stores if they have noticed any trends or specific behaviours of shoplifters, or even if they notice a spike in attempts around certain days. Research shows that Wednesday to Saturday are the most popular days for shoplifters, especially through holiday seasons.
Keep an eye out for places that thieves may easily store stolen items; this may not be as obvious as oversized coats and jackets, any clothing with big pockets, strollers, other shopping bags and even umbrellas are easy places to hide stolen loot.
Know your customers
Fantastic customer service is essential in any store, but it’s also an effective tactic to prevent shoplifters. Build relationships with loyal customers, not only are they less likely to steal from you, but they are likely to want to help prevent shoplifters, and won’t be afraid to report back to you if they spot any suspicious behaviour. Potential shoplifters are likely to be deterred by a presence of a friendly and attentive team.
Optimize your store’s layout
Where your checkout is placed and how your aisles are positioned can have a massive impact on stock loss. Thieves will hunt for areas not covered by security cameras or visible by staff, so make sure there’s nowhere for them to hide, this can be done by placing aisles, mirrors, and lighting strategically. Place your checkout so customers have to pass it while exiting, this will make any potential thieves feel uneasy, and gives you one last look at customers before they leave, and allows you to call for help if needs be.
Keep small, expensive, or easy-to-steal items near checkouts, locked in cabinets, or with security tags. These items will be the easiest to swipe, and strategic placing or security can prevent theft, or catch thieves as they leave the store.
If your store has a changing room, be sure to have someone manning it at all times. A changing room is an ideal place for a thief to remove tags from an item and hide it away in their bags or pockets. Have a limit on how many items taken in by a customer, and make sure they come out with the same amount of items they went in with.
If your store is big enough or you have enough staff, have someone at the door to greet customers. This lets thieves know that you’re aware of their presence. Alongside this, make sure you’ve always got an adequate amount of staff to man your shop floor at all times, even when staff are on lunch breaks.
Implement shoplifting policies
If a customer heads for a five finger discount and you’re not there to resolve the issue, do your employees know how to deal with the situation? Having a comprehensive shoplifting policy will mean your staff know how to deal with any issue as it arises, and prevent it from happening in the future. It will also mean that staff feel confident in approaching and dealing with issues before they turn into stock loss.
Check with your local police force on how they deal with shoplifting, and if they’re available to call when issues arise. Alternatively, if you’re part of a shopping centre, complex, or park, make sure your employees always have phones or walkie-talkies to hand to call for security.
At Ashwood, we’re here for you and your shop; whether it’s stock issues, motivating your employees, or choosing the best POS system. If you do have issues with shoplifting, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we’ll help as best as we can.