Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.
Whether you call it shoplifting or straight-up stealing, having your merchandise stolen is bad news. 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.
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 tills, preferably in a locked case. That way no one will ever have unsupervised access to expensive items. Obviously you can’t lock up everything in your shop, 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 greeting each person as he or she enters the shop and by monitoring what’s going on inside. If staff regularly check in with customers and ask how they can help, it sends a message that this person is aware of everyone in the shop and what’s going on. If shoplifters feel like they’re being watched, it’s less likely that they’ll try to steal.
3. Publicise the consequences of stealing.
Post your shoplifting policy somewhere prominent, like in the changing rooms. That alone might be enough to scare off some potential shoplifters, but don’t stop there. Installing mirrors and cameras is another way to intimidate thieves.
4. Pay attention to changing rooms.
If you don’t have a huge team of staff, it might seem like a hassle to run back and forth unlocking changing rooms, but it’s necessary. By locking the rooms (and giving customers a number for how many items they’re trying on), you’re creating a serious barrier to theft.
5. Engage with customers.
Always greet customers when they walk through the door. When there are customers in the shop, 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 and making it harder to steal.
6. Schedule appropriately.
Sometimes people get busy, out of the blue. It happens. But on days and times when you know it’s going to be hectic, like a weekend afternoon or during the run-up to Christmas, trying to get by with bare-bones staff leaves the door open to theft. If your employees are busy at the tills 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 items). Talk to your employees about common shoplifting behaviour so they know what to look out for.
7. Install cameras and mirrors.
If you really want to get serious about preventing (and prosecuting) shoplifters, equip your shop with cameras and security mirrors. Not only will you be able to help identify shoplifters but also the mere presence of these items can act as theft deterrents.