Whether you call it shoplifting or straight-up stealing, having your merchandise stolen just plain sucks. Dealing with theft might seem like an unavoidable cost of doing business, but it doesn’t have to be. Find out how to shut down shoplifting before it happens with these easy tips.
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1. Be aware of at-risk items
Shoplifters will likely target small, valuable, easy-to-pocket products like jewellery, so store those close to the register, preferably in a locked case. That way no one will ever have unsupervised access to big-ticket items. Obviously, you can’t lock up everything in your store, but keep track of the more sought-after items and keep them in an area that you and your staff can easily monitor.
2. Train your staff to watch for theft
Your employees can be the best defence against shoplifting. Talk to them about what to look out for and how to avoid scams. One way they can deter would-be thieves is by practising good customer service by greeting each person as he or she enters the store and by monitoring what’s going on in the store. Teach your staff members to recognise the signs of a thief and to pay closer attention to anyone that might seem “off”. Don’t hover over them, as they could be legitimate shoppers and you’ll lose their business, but be aware.
3. Publicise the consequences of stealing
Post your shoplifting policy somewhere prominent, like in the dressing rooms. That alone might be enough to scare off some potential shoplifters, but don’t stop there. Don’t be afraid to name and shame. Some stores put photos on a message board or display videos of shoplifters caught in the act. Not only does this deter others from doing the same, it can also help identify the perpetrator should they return to the store again.
4. Pay attention to dressing rooms
If you don’t have a huge staff, it might seem like a hassle to run back and forth unlocking dressing rooms, but it’s necessary. By locking the rooms (and giving customers a numbered tag for how many items they’re trying on), you’re creating a serious barrier to theft. While you’re at it, ask customers to check their bags before trying on clothes and leave trolleys outside the rooms.
5. Engage with customers
Always greet customers when they walk through the door. When there are customers in the store, make sure that you and your employees are circulating, checking in with customers and asking how you can help them. Not only are you providing better, friendlier service, you’re also monitoring activity (as mentioned previously) and making it harder to steal.
6. Schedule appropriately
Sometimes everyone gets busy out of the blue. It happens. But on days and times when you know you’re going to get slammed, like a weekend afternoon or during the holiday season, trying to get by with a bare-bones staff leaves the door open to theft. If your employees are busy at the register or assisting another customer, it’s easier to steal (this is actually a shoplifting team tactic — one person distracts an employee while the other pockets merchandise). Try to have enough staff on so this doesn’t become an issue.
7. Install security cameras and mirrors
If you really want to get serious about preventing (and prosecuting) shoplifters, equip your store with surveillance cameras and security mirrors. Not only will you be able to help identify shoplifters but also the mere presence of these items will act as theft deterrents.