Whether you call it shoplifting or shrinkage 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.
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1. Be aware of at-risk items.
Shoplifters will likely target small, valuable, easy-to-pocket products like jewelry, 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 defense 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 store and by monitoring what’s going on in the store. If staffers regularly check in with customers and ask how they can help, it sends a message that this person is aware of everyone in the store and what’s going on. If shoplifters feel like they’re being watched, it’s less likely that they’ll try to steal.
3. Publicize 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. Installing mirrors and cameras is another way to intimidate thieves.
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.
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 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). Talk to your employees about common shoplifting behavior 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 store with 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.