Shoplifting is rising at an alarming rate. There are two categories of shoplifters: professionals and amateurs. Professional shoplifters steal to earn money, whereas amateurs do this for some fun and adventure. Hiding stolen merchandise inside clothing or baggage, or with other purchased items, is the most common shoplifting technique. Changing the price label is another widely used method. If the shoplifter is highly experienced or bold, he might run out of the store with the stolen merchandise. To ensure you don't become a victim of these techniques, follow the tips mentioned below. But first, learn to identify potential shoplifters.
How to Identify Shoplifters?
Shoplifters prefer to carry out their operations when the employees are less alert, say when store is just opening to a lot of customers, is crowded, or is closing with enough customers still waiting for their billing. Identifying shoplifters is a tough task as they do not have any specific profile. They can be of any age, ethnic background, or gender. Ask your staff to closely observe the following people:
- A group entering the store, out of which one or two people are creating a lot of disturbance in order to distract the staff. This is because shoplifters prefer to work in a group of two or more.
- If a particular person visits the store frequently but never buys anything.
- People wearing heavy clothing like coats even in warm weather or carrying large bags.
- A person who is spending more time around the cashier and not shopping for anything.
- A person who seems to be nervous and is randomly picking up things from the rack.
- People who enter the changing room with a lot of items but come out with just a few.
Useful Tips to Prevent Shoplifting
All the merchandise should be properly arranged on the racks. This will help the staff to detect any missing items easily. Do not let them lie around here and there unnecessarily. This may prompt the shoplifters to pick up those items. The display racks should be kept away from the gates in order to avoid 'grab-and-run' thefts. Items that are small, yet expensive, should be displayed in locked cases.
The staff should be given proper training to prevent shoplifting. This involves identification of shoplifters and looking out for signs of shoplifting. They should be made aware about the various tactics practiced by the shoplifters. They should maintain eye contact with the customers so that they can understand if the customer needs help or is looking for scope to steal items. They should be familiar with prices of various items so that they can detect switching of labels.
Ensure the safety of the cash counter. Empty the cash drawer after regular intervals so that minimum amount of cash is kept in it. When not in use, lock the drawer and keep the keys in a secured area. At the end of the day, the cash should be counted behind closed doors and not in front of the customers.
There are shoplifting prevention systems which can be used to minimize thefts. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) is considered one of the best devices to prevent shoplifters from carrying out their agenda. It gives the thieves a sense of insecurity as they feel that they are being monitored continuously. Another device is EAS or electronic article surveillance system. Here, an EAS tag is attached to each and every item of the store. When a customer is buying the item, the tag is either detached or deactivated. If someone tries to take an unauthorized item out of the store with the tag, then an alarm will blow as it passes the gates.
Every year the retail industry suffers huge losses due to shoplifting. For this reason, shoplifting prevention is a must in order to reduce the opportunities for thieves.