This is a post by Akshay Sachdeva.
Theft in your retail store can be extremely damaging to your bottom line. Think about it: if you have a 10% margin on each sale you make, you would need to sell an additional $1000 worth of products to compensate for a loss from a $100 theft. That’s a big deal!
According to a national retail survey held in 2009 in the US, the average shoplifter walks out with $438 per theft, and the chance of being caught is only 1 in 48. The value of goods being stolen each year from retail stores in the US alone is in the billions. If you’re a serious retail business, you simply cannot ignore this.
The good news is that there are many tools, devices, and strategies you can use to address this problem. Combining technology with a smart anti-theft strategy, you can catch thieves red-handed, make your store theft resistant, and reduce losses.
In this article, we’ll go through the top devices retailers use to prevent theft. You’ll learn 6 methods they’re using, and pick up some insights on how you can do the same. We’ll also look at the future of anti-theft technology so you’ll see how it’s all shaping up 5 years from now.
Let’s get into it!
Anti-theft devices to consider for your retail store
1. Merchandising security
If you have high-value products in your retail stores like laptops, mobile phones or others, merchandising security is a great way to allow consumers to pick up and test your products while keeping them tethered to your display furniture.
Some retailers use a security stand that mounts on top of their furniture and allows them to display phones, watches, tablets, and cameras while keeping them secure and tethered. Have a look below:
There is a wide range of merchandising security equipment available, from magnetic holders, wired grip holders and others. You can choose which ones are best suited to your products depending on the shape, size, and value of the products you’re safeguarding.
Some merchandising security devices come with in-built chargers so your displayed products are always charged to ensure a great customer experience. You can find these devices (as well as the one above) in electornic stores as well as general retailers like Amazon.
Physical locks and cables also make it harder for thieves to just pinch a product from your shelves. Many retailers put mirrors all around their store, to improve the visibility of displayed products, such that thieves become more conscious of their acts since they feel more ‘watched’. They’re cheaper, non-technical loss prevention devices that can be simple, yet very effective.
2. Smart inventory management tools
One of the most effective devices to prevent inventory loss, is smart and frequent inventory management. By watching your inventory like a hawk through regular stock counts and monitoring discrepancies, many retailers dramatically decrease theft at their stores. Using smart barcode scanners to do stock takes to accurately account for your inventory levels is helpful.
Another key measure retailers use is by monitoring ‘user permission levels’ of their staff for operating the POS system. Vend allows you to set different permission levels, so only key employees can edit data on your system.
Taking these steps will ensure you know when something goes missing, which prevents culprits from stealing your products!
3. Anti-theft signage
You need to tell customers they’re being watched, and what the consequences of shoplifting can be. Through installing anti theft signage across the entire store, retailers instantly warn potential thieves from acting unlawfully. Here’s an example of an effective signage tool:
Again, a simple, cost effective tool that does the needful!
4. Educational materials for theft prevention
One of the best ways to curb theft is through education. Keep your team well-informed of the latest loss prevention best practices so they can help secure your store.
You also want to to educate your staff and contractors about their code of conduct, so they’re aware of the consequences they need to face. By making them take eLearning programs and induction modules when they join your company, you set the right foundation for controlling theft from the start of their tenure.
5. Cameras & video analytics
Surveillance cameras at key points around your retail store, complemented by video analytics software can be a fantastic theft prevention formula. The software identifies whenever any kind of suspicious movements occur, like if a customer walks out the door without paying, You’ll instantly get an alert if this happens.
With information on demographics, incoming & outgoing people count, and heatmaps for more advanced visitor analytics, you can pinpoint the likelihood of theft with greater accuracy.
If you use cameras with facial recognition technology, it becomes easy to identify ‘known’ thieves, by matching them against an existing database of criminals or thieves supplied to you by the police.
Here’s a great video showcasing video analytics in action:
6. Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS)
By attaching security tags to your products, retailers can trigger off an alarm if a shoplifter walks out with a product with the tag still on through the electronic sensors at the exit gates.
There are many types of EAS devices you can use like tags, labels, antennas, spider tags and more. They use a combination of radio frequency, electromagnetic technology, sensors, metal detectors to prevent theft. The best ones are the ones that cause the minimum number of false alarms!
Here’s a video demonstrating EAS technology in action:
Futuristic EAS systems provide you with real time data through RFID technology from the moment products enter your store to the time they leave. It’s amazing how closely they can monitor each product in your store.
What does the future hold?
If you consider what the future of anti theft technology holds for retailers, you’ll be surprised by the possibilities. The trend of IoT (Internet of Things) will make it tougher to steal high value products, as they would come with embedded chips that can be used to monitor the location of the product with the internet.
Anti-theft software will make it possible for retail stores (and consumers) to block a thief from using stolen products. Already, phones use apps that allow users to lock their device through the internet in case it gets stolen (like the Find My iPhone App on iOS devices). Clearly, such applications will make it possible to block the use of any product that’s been stolen, not just phones or tablets.
Artificial Intelligence tech will enable more effective policing by crunching vast amounts of data and video footage from surveillance cameras and identifying any suspicious activity in-store. It would be like having a super vigilant security guard on your promises all the time, constantly monitoring every nook and corner of your store.
RFID technology, combined with machine learning will not only boost anti theft effectiveness, but also eliminate checkout lines, thereby improving the customer experience. Amazon Go, one of the most advanced retail shopping technologies, will allow consumers to just walk into a store, pick up the products they want to buy, and then walk out without having to ‘checkout’ and pay. Clearly, shoplifting is likely to become a thing of the past!
Looking for more loss prevention and stock control tips? Check out our Inventory Management Guide to learn more about maintaining inventory accuracy and making sure you always have the right amount of merchandise at the right time.
- Set up your products and inventory system correctly
- Get the right people and processes in place so you can stay on top of stock
- Figure out which of issues are causing shrink in your business so you can prevent them
Wrapping it Up
Invest in theft prevention, while monitoring inventory levels closely, and you’ll prevent losses from happening in the present. We recommend looking forward to the exciting advancements in technology that could potentially make retail theft a thing of the past. By implementing some of the devices above, you can become a more profitable, smart and efficient retail enterprise!