Retail Loss Prevention – Everything You Need to Know!

Shoplifting is an unfortunate reality of brick & mortar retail life, but there are ways you can minimize opportunities of theft and improve your safety.

We reached out to theft prevention officer Joe who gave us these helpful tips – that shoplifters everywhere DON’T want you to know –  to reduce incidents of theft and stay safe:

Thieves don’t want to be recognized

Officer Joe suggests you greet everyone who comes in the shop, make eye contact and open up conversation. Not only is it providing excellent service, but it puts shoplifters on notice that you are aware and observant.

How to discourage shoplifters

Use signage on your front door and around the store – You can use “Smile you are on camera” signs, even if you don’t have any cameras.

Officer Joe also suggests having signs outside your shop about your security systems if you use them. The ADT signs outside houses really do deter thieves.
Additionally, you can have a sign on your door reminding customers to make sure their cars are locked.

Does someone have a very large tote bag? If you suspect someone is loading their personal bag with items with the intent to steal them, ask if you can hold their bag at the counter for them, or ask customers if they would be willing to set their bags down at a central location i.e. a table, while they shop.

Experiencing a rash of sticky fingers? Have a sign at the front door alerting customers that there is an increase in shoplifting in the area. This will help when you ask your customers to leave bags at the front counter. The sign helps get customers on board to help you out – AND it lets potential shoplifters that you are alert and watching.

What if you have a shoplifter in your shop?

If you’ve identified a shoplifter in the store, Officer Joe’s top tips are:

  1. Do not confront them
  2. Notice what they are wearing, anything that could ID the person. Get a license plate if possible
  3. Contact 911. Don’t be afraid to contact the police. Officer Joe said that the police know that you aren’t going to call them unless something isn’t right
  4. If you notice your shop has been broken into – DO NOT ENTER. Call 911 and stay in your car away from your shop.

What does a shoplifter most often want?

Remember that the person who is committing the crime is very likely trying to get money to buy drugs. They may not be in their right mind. It’s the drug that controls them. Do not confront them at any time.

Using a code phrase to alert your team

How to tip off your team to a suspicious situation? Stephanie from Uncommon Threads Yarn has implemented a code phrase, alerting the team if there may be something happening in your shop. Her shop decided to say something about YELLOW YARN because not many people like yellow yarn.

What’s the “right” amount of inventory variance? It should be no more than about 2% of sales. A variance can be caused from a variety of issues such as theft but also human error in your Point of Sale system. While most theft is committed by internal staff rather than external individuals, shoplifting is a very real issue and following these tips will help you reduce those risks.

8 Comments on “Retail Loss Prevention – Everything You Need to Know!”

  1. We have suspected tag switchers that gently pull a marked down tag off a sale item and rip a tag off a more expensive item and replace the sale tag on the expensive item. Their actions are noted in their customer card as they are checking out. We have to catch them on camera and then call the police ( they take 20 mins to come, though the local station is 2 mins away). Always get description of the person and car they are leaving in.

    1. I’m so sorry this is a reoccurring issue for you S! It sounds like you have a good process in place and this is the perfect example of making sure they know you see them and you’re attentive to reduce the opportunity, as well as educating your team on what’s currently on sale.

  2. I understand not confronting a shop lifter but when I worked in retail we were taught to over do on customer service. Ask questions, and watch them like a hawk. Most get uncomfortable and leave. If you have a team, each person take turns saying hi and offering help. The majority stealing are not on drugs but come from all walks of life and have entitlement attitudes. Nowadays the concern is groups of people doing smash and grabs. It’s now happening to even small boutique shops in my state.

  3. As suggested, we have a code word (Nicole….so therefore we can never hire a Nicole! LOL) “Nicole please come to the floor.” That alerts everyone in our building that they need to immediately quit what they are doing (unless they are gathering for a customer) and get to the floor. We also do the “kill ’em with kindness” routine and for the couple of “known” shoplifters we have, they are never alone. We think one has quit coming in from us providing so much great customer service. LOL. One last thing, on the busiest of days, we hire a door greeter (who talks to each one, comments on something about the person, and also a “runner.” The employee continues working in their assigned room, or with that particular customer, while the “runner” goes and gets the boxed item for the customer. That said, of course we still get thieves but at least we think that cuts it down.

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