10 tips on how retailers can prevent being victims of shoplifting

Posted on 27 Oct 2016
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Implementing sufficient security measures in a retail space can pose some issues – you need to be able to protect your businesses, your staff and your customers, but you're aware of how setting the wrong atmosphere can make some genuine customers feel uncomfortable. Taking measures, such as training staff to be more vigilant can help to set a good environment in-store, as well as provide an excellent security measure against anyone attempting to steal from your business.

For those times when staff aren't able to keep an eye on everything, you'll need to find a way of installing security systems that offer the perfect blendof being a deterrent to shoplifters, but still make the store appealing for customers to operate in. A pedestal security system is ideal to meet this criteria, as they're designed to sense electronic tags that have been placed on products – when taken through the area that the system is patrolling, an alarm will sound. When placed alongside the entry/exit doors of a store, they are an ideal way to ensure that staff will be alerted to any thefts that may occur.

10 tips on preventing shoplifting

Before someone enters your store thinking about stealing something, then there's little you are able to do about that. However, you can take steps to prevent them from stealing from your store.

Here, we'll look at some effective ways of preventing shoplifting in your store;

1. Know a shoplifter.

The first thing that you and your employees should understand is how shoplifters are likely to behave. If you're able to spot them immediately, then this will help to prevent any shoplifting from taking place. If someone is planning to shoplift from your store, they may display the following behaviours;

  • Taking steps to avoid being seen.
  • Seeming nervous; sweating, or feeling flushed.
  • Picking up and putting back the same items repeatedly.
  • Constantly checking their position; paying more attention to the area in front of them, rather than the product in their hand or any shelves or product displays in front of them.
  • Wearing large clothes (especially not appropriate for the season) or carrying large bags.

It's important to remember that just because some people display this behaviour, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are planning to steal from your store – but they're definitely signs that you should look out for and monitor.

2. Keeping staff informed of shoplifting procedures.

Even when your staff suspects that someone is shoplifting, they will need to know how to take sufficient action. Ensure that you have a comprehensive shoplifting policy in place and ensure that every employee is trained and knows how to implement the policy should they spot a shoplifter.

3. Using customer service to intercept a potential shoplifter.

If they feel that they've been rumbled, shoplifters will normally grow cautious and make a quick exit from your store. An approach that many stores use to intercept potential shoplifters, is to use customer service – simply asking them if they need any assistance will work to psychologically deter a shoplifter from stealing, as they know that they're being watched. Another method that's used is for a staff member to simply stand around someone they suspect to be a shoplifter – just undertaking a tidy-up of a shelf will work to plant a similar psychological trigger and prevent them from simply slipping an item into their pocket, or bag.

4. Optimising the stores' layout.

Another way to nip the issue in the bud before it makes an impact, is by optimising the layout of the store to make it easier for staff or your CCTV equipment to be able to see everything in the store. Here are a few steps to take to optimise your stores' layout;

  • Placing your customer service area by the doors will ensure that everyone in the store will have to pass it as they leave – giving staff the best opportunity to prevent a shoplifter from leaving.
  • It's important that you think about eliminating any blind spots – for staff or any CCTV equipment you may have. You can achieve this by moving displays, or by installing much-brighter lighting and even mirrors, offering more sight for staff and equipment.
  • If you can reduce the height of the displays, this will further help you to eliminate any blind spots and help staff to keep an eye on anyone they believe is a potential shoplifter.

5. Identifying items that are 'at risk' – and take precautions against their theft.

Aside from the most expensive items that your store may sell, shoplifters tend to steal items that are lightweight and can be fit into a pocket. Classically – cosmetic items such as razor blades, perfumes and shampoos were amongst some of the most-stolen items, simply because of this reason. This led to stores placing the more-expensive of these items behind counters or cases, which requires any customer to ask for their removal. Although this is a great way of preventing anything from being stolen, it could actually work as a deterrent to a genuine customer who may just want to pick up the item and pay for it, without necessarily wanting to speak to staff for their removal. Alternatively, you can put the displays of the items that you identify are at risk, near the tills or customer service area, ensuring that staff are present at all times to keep an eye on them.

6. Take regular stock takes.

It can difficult to know if you've been stolen from, if you don't know the correct numbers of your stock. If you undertake regular stock takes and keep up-to-date with the numbers in your inventory, this will help to identify if any theft has taken place. If you notice any patterns emerging, this will give the opportunity to make the necessary changes to prevent it from happening.

7. Using warning signs.

As we've established, shoplifters will be on high-alert and will cease their actions if they know that they're being watched. Placing warning signs (such as 'you're on CCTV') will act as a further psychological trigger that may prevent them from stealing. A good example of this method, is their usage by clothing stores – many shoplifters like to steal clothing by heading to the changing rooms and hiding a garment on their person. Knowing that they can't place CCTV in their changing rooms, stores place the signs in and around the changing rooms to remind any potential shoplifter that they will be watched when they leave that particular area and that there are security measures in place in order to prevent them from stealing the item.

8. Using additional security measures.

Although informing staff to keep an eye shoplifters is a good base to work from, it isn't ideal to keep your employees away from vital work that they need to carry out in store. Implementing security measures, such as the usage of high-quality CCTV cameras, pedestal security systems and tags, as well as alarms, all work to identify, alert and prevent shoplifting from taking place.

9. Working with the local community.

Many local councils and police forces have rolled out business crime initiatives/partnerships that allow the sharing of information about known shoplifters. Many stores even link up their CCTV with other systems in the area, making it somewhat easier for the police to be able to identify and apprehend any perpetrators. This is something that is well-worth investigating if you're not already part of such a scheme.

10. Always stay vigilant.

Most of all – always ensure that you are able to keep on top of your shoplifting prevention methods. Most thefts occur because those carrying it out see an opportunity – the less vigilant we are, gives more of an opportunity to a shoplifter.

Keep your stock safe – with a pedestal security system from Tagmax

Being leaders in the nationwide sales, installation and services of retail security equipment, we have a wide range of pedestal security systems that are designed to protect your business. Able to effectively detect whenever a tagged item has been taken from your premises – many stores have found it to be the perfect shoplifting solution. For more information on this or any of our other retail security systems services, please don't hesitate to call us on 0800 044 3160 or e-mail us at sales@tagmax.co.uk.

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