Every year, retailers around the country have to deal with the triple threat of theft: shoplifting, employee theft, and organized burglary. The differences between the three can make it difficult to ensure the safety and protection of your customers, employees, and goods. Luckily, we at Supreme have a few tips that can help you mitigate risk. Take a look below to see what you can do to improve the security of your retail space.
1. Employ Great Customer Service
Of course, providing great customer service is important when it comes to making your customers feel welcome, but it can also be a fantastic method for preventing shoplifting. The goal of a shoplifter is to go unnoticed. They want to feel like they aren’t being watched; they need to feel like they won’t get caught. When your employees acknowledge them with a smile and a hello, they will feel less confident in their illegal actions. By establishing fantastic customer service standards you can make your genuine customers feel appreciated and taken care of while deterring potential shoplifters. Below are a few protocols you can implement in your retail space to get the job done.
- At least one employee on the sales floor must engage customers with a greeting and smile immediately following their entry to the store.
- At least one employee on the sales floor must ask customers how they can be helped.
- When customers are in the store for an elongated period of time, employees should check in with them every 5-10 minutes.
2. Eliminate “Blind Spots” On Your Sales Floor
It is hard to prevent shoplifting in a retail space that has many blind spots (areas that are isolated from employee view). More than likely your employees will not see the crime in action and there is no guarantee that the crime will be visible from a security camera. So, if you want to prevent shoplifting, take a look at your sales floor and ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the placement of my shelving units block my employee’s line of site?
- Do I have any displays, signs or promotional items creating “blind spots” that inadvertently encourage theft?
- Is the general layout of my sales floor open? Or does it feel cluttered?
Your goal should be to establish a retail space that allows your employees to keep track of shoppers easily from the register. In addition, you’ll want to make sure you do not have areas where your customers are surrounded by shelves, walls, or displays on more than two sides. If you do these things, potential shoplifters should feel less comfortable stealing from your store and will most likely move on to easier targets.
3. Train Employees to be Proactive with Suspicious Individuals
Even if one of your employees sees an individual shoplifting, it can be hard for them to take action. They may not want to intervene because if they are mistaken, the store could lose a loyal customer. They also might fear a verbally abusive or potentially violent confrontation. If catching a shoplifter in the act is hard, and stopping them after they have committed the crime is nearly impossible, we only have one option — “catch” them before they shoplift. How? All it takes is informed training and a little transparency.
When you train your employees, let them know about the possibility of shoplifters and instruct them on exactly how to deal with any suspicious individuals who enter the store. Below are a few suggestions for preparing your staff:
- Train your employees in identifying shoplifters and potentially dangerous individuals (e.g., nervousness, not making eye contact, fidgeting, sweating, playing with their hands, oversized clothing or the carrying of a large bag, or a lack of interaction with employees).
- Train your employees to deal with aggressive, violent, or otherwise threatening individuals. Roleplaying can be an incredibly beneficial method to use here.
- Document all procedures in a standardized Handbook that your employees can continually reference.
- Update the Handbook when one of your employees faces a new or unfamiliar incident.
4. Have Protocols for Monitoring the Cash Register
It should be no surprise that your cash register might be a target for opportunistic thieves who enter your retail space. By establishing simple protocols in regards to monitoring and securing your cash register, you can reduce the threat of it becoming a target. Below are a few standard guidelines you can enact in your store.
- One employee must be working the register at all times. During this time, the assigned employee cannot be more than 15 feet from the register. In the event of a break, the employee must get another employee to manage the register and this change must be recorded.
- When handling cash payments, employees should not place the customer’s money in the cash register until the transaction is complete. If there are any disagreements in payment, the employee can easily reference the amount of cash that was given.
- In the event that multiple employees will be tending to a single register during one shift, assign employees separate drawers. If there are any discrepancies when counting the day’s revenue from cash, you will be able to pinpoint the employee responsible.
1. Limit the Time that Employees are Alone
A lot of employee theft takes place due to simple opportunity. If you leave a single employee alone in the store for hours on end each night, they might consider how easy it would be to take a few pieces of merchandise. If possible, have two employees on the sales floor at a time. It might not seem practical, but it will reduce the chance of an employee snagging a few pieces of merchandise while on the sales floor alone. Likewise, it will make employees think twice about pocketing a small box or two from the back room.
2. Have an Anonymous System for Whistleblowing
If you follow tip number one, it is likely that one of your employees will know if another one steals. Due to peer pressure and possible friendships, however, it may be incredibly hard for these witnesses to come forward. No one wants to be a “snitch” and no one wants to cause themselves trouble by ratting out someone else. Because of this stigma, it is important to make employees feel comfortable and safe about coming forward. You’ll want to ensure employees that they will not be punished and that their identities will not be disclosed. In fact, for the best results, you may want to go as far as setting up an anonymous system for whistleblowing. This will allow employees to do the right thing without putting themselves at risk.
3. Make the Consequences Clear
To you, the severity of stealing from an employer is clear, but your employees (especially the younger ones) may not fully realize the consequences their actions can have. After all, what is a $10 here and there? To eliminate this lack of clarity, you should be as straightforward as possible about the consequences of employee theft. Let them know that employee theft won’t be tolerated and document this in the Employee Handbook. Tell them that while you hope you’ll never have to, you will prosecute employees for theft, and let them know what the consequences could be: fines or jail time. Knowing the full extent of the consequences, as well as your determination to prosecute if theft arises, employees should be less willing to steal.
4. Install a Surveillance System
Surveillance systems are ideal for reviewing activity when an incident takes place in or around your store, which makes them the perfect tool for deterring employee theft. With cameras recording what happens on your sales floor and in your back rooms, staff members will know that if they steal there is a high likelihood that they will be caught. If your system utilizes digital recording, you may also be able to monitor your store remotely. In addition to theft, surveillance systems can capture things like:
- Slip and falls and other incidents.
- Employee exit and entry times.
- Environmental events.
All in all, surveillance systems are a great tool for deterring and catching theft. And because some systems can be integrated with intrusion detection and access control systems, it should be easy for you to improve the overall effectiveness of your security.
1. Install an Alarm System
When it comes to organized burglary, it is hard to beat the protection a professionally-installed burglary system has to offer. Most alarm systems have multiple pieces of equipment that can alert you to an unwanted intrusion and help you notify authorities before it is too late.
Types of equipment include:
- Motion Detection: Using a couple different methods (such as ultrasonic waves and infrared light), motion detectors are capable of detecting when someone or something trespasses on your property.
- Glassbreak Detection: Glassbreak detectors are capable of identifying the specific frequency at which glass breaks. If they sense this frequency, an alarm is triggered.
- Door Contacts: Door contacts tell a security system if doors or windows are open or closed. One piece is installed on the door while the other is attached to the door frame. If the two pieces separate, an alarm is triggered, alerting you to an intruder.
- Video Verification: Video Verification is a monitoring service in which your security provider will use motion-activated video cameras on your property to verify if an alarm was triggered by an actual intruder. Police response times are 85% faster when responding to a verified alarm, and false alarms are reduced.
2. Install a Video Surveillance System (CCTV)
While mentioned in the “Employee Theft” section of this article, video surveillance is also a fantastic tool for improving the security of your business. A CCTV system will allow you to detect and record any unwanted entry to your facility, record a burglar’s actions if they choose to break into your business, and may help you visually identify any criminals, which can aid the police in finding and convicting them.
3. Implement Access Control
An access control system allows you to control who has access to your facility and when they have access. As a retailer, you will want your customers to have access to your sales floor, but that does not mean they need to have access to your back room. With card readers barring access to your store after hours of operation, and additional readers barring access to your back rooms both during and outside of hours of operation, you will have an added layer of protection against burglary. Furthermore, if burglars use a card to access your store as opposed to forced entry, you will know exactly whose card was used. This can aid you in identifying the culprit.
And one final tip… contact a professional security company!
Here at Supreme, we’ve helped hundreds of New Jersey retailers improve the security of their businesses to increase the protection of their patrons and prevent revenue losses due to theft. While there are plenty of actions you can take on your own (many mentioned in this list), for the best results, you should contact a security company to learn more about what measures are right for your business. You can get in touch with us and schedule a conversation by clicking here!