An Investment For Your Business

When new legislation passes in many states, the array of issues that come to new elected officials varies considerably.  

Shoplifting laws are one of the many topics legislators review to make sure the punishment is appropriate.  Businesses and small businesses in general need to be protected by the laws of the country to ensure the economic growth of a locality, the state and ultimately the country.

The punishment for shoplifting varies according to the state and in some instances the county where the business is located.  Laws are put in place to make sure these silent crimes are not committed with impunity, and the shoplifter is prosecuted according to the law. 

Unfortunately, many of these shoplifting incidents are not prosecuted for  many different reasons. Ultimately, it is up to the business to decide whether to prosecute the shoplifter or not.  As a business owner, they have to consider the costs associated with prosecuting shoplifters as a rule and whether it is economically sound to do so.

A lawyer’s fee for an hour or to prosecute a case depends on the region, the experience and the complexity of a case but, either way, their fee does not come cheap. 

 As a business owner, is it practical or economically possible for you to have a privately retained attorney? Is it your business practice to prosecute a shoplifter regardless of the quantity they steal?  There are many questions one needs to answer, and many options you have to make as a business owner regarding shoplifting.

Shoplifting in the United States have become a multi billion nightmare for businesses in the retail industry.  From the casual shoplifter to organized retail rings, the losses the retail industry suffers are staggering.  The small stores or shops in this industry have to fight and stop loses because their livelihood depends on their ability to stop the shoplifters. The profit margin from sales is too small for them to ignore the problem or to neglected it for too long.

For many of the small retail businesses, a loss prevention system that allows them to protect their merchandise and profits is one of the best ways to invest in their business.  Big retail chains have for many years now invested in loss prevention systems to help them minimize the losses and help them prevent shoplifting and employee theft. 

A loss prevention system that gives the employer or management of the store up to the minute information about the merchandise , allows them to do their job more efficiently and helps them prevent theft is an investment that will pay off sooner than you think.

Proper EAS Tagging Tips For Retailers

There’s no question about it electronic article surveillance (EAS) retail anti-theft devices work in every store they are used in. In fact they are so effective that according to the Sensormatic Global Retail Shrink Index, EAS is the most popular Loss Prevention and Asset Protection investment among retailers in the United States. 92.16% of retailers surveyed indicated they are investing in electronic article surveillance (pg. 45). Is it enough that EAS tags are used or is there more to making them an effective tool? 

     In order to get the most out of an electronic article surveillance system tags retailers should ensure they have effective tagging guidelines in place. It may not seem like it would make a big difference at first glance but the reality is a proper tagging program can make a theft prevention program stronger. Here is are some suggestions to consider as a guideline of where you should tag your merchandise: 

  • Keep visibility in mind. While hiding tags may seem like a good idea at first it can cause some problems for the retailer rather than a thief. Hidden hard tags may not be seen by a cashier and removed when a piece of clothing is purchased. That can cause an unnecessary EAS tower alarm and an embarrassing moment for your patron. A similar problem can occur with an EAS label if it is hidden. It may not deactivate properly at the point of sale and cause a false alarm. 
  • Location of tags is important to prevent concealment by a shoplifter. If a pair of pants is protected with a hard tag on the waistline it is not difficult to untuck a shirt and hide it. Keeping the placement where the tags are hard to cover improves the deterrent effect of the devices. 
  • Another thing to avoid is placing soft tags or labels on manufacturer hang tags if possible. I encourage retailers to place labels directly on merchandise packaging. For example a Sensormatic label is difficult to remove from a box of razor blades but if it is on a hang tag on a shirt sleeve a crook can pop the hang tag off and the label goes with it.  

So what do I suggest when it comes to tag placement? Here a few suggestions that I have found to be effective: 

  • When tagging pant or slacks a hard tag can be pinned through a seam near the knee. If that is a bit more work than you want to do, the next best solution would be a couple of inches above the cuff. Both solutions make it difficult to hide the tag and if the location is consistent on every pair of pants cahiers will be accustomed to looking for hard tags in the same place every time. 
  • If your store sells shoes people are going to want to try them on. I suggest tagging them through an eyelet. If there is no place to that a hard tag can be attached the next best solution would be a label on the bottom of the shoe. Tag both shoes as an extra precaution against shoplifting. 
  • Shirts should be tagged near the front of the neckline. The next best option would be the cuff of the shirt sleeve. The point is to keep the tags in as visible a location as possible. The problem with a cuff versus a neckline is that a cuff can be upturned and a tag hidden. Also when a tag is placed too close to the end of a cuff it is easier to make a small cut in the garment to remove a tag and repair it with a stitch or two. 
  •  Purses can be protected with a hard tag. If you are tagging purses the key to doing so efficiently and reducing customer distractions is to tag them as closely as possible to one place for all bags. Wallets may have an EAS label hidden inside because they are more difficult to tag with a hard tag. If this is the case for your store make sure cashiers are all aware of this and carefully placing the merchandise on the deactivation pads at checkout. 

These are the most common items of clothing and softlines merchandise to be protected. Hopefully the message you are reading is that the consistency of a tagging program is what matters. Do it properly and you will have minimal false alarms and customer distractions and the alarms that do go off will be real attempts to steal. When supervisors and employees respond to real alarms and fewer false alarms they will be more thorough in their receipt checks. That will result in more recovered dollars and less shortage for you. 

Did The Grinch Steal Your Retail Christmas? 

Wow, Christmas is over and Retailers are starting to dig out from the carnage. Unfortunately, some of the carnage is all the merchandise that shoplifters have liberated from your store. I believe that theft is actually the oldest vice around. Even older than “the oldest profession”. As long are there are two things on this earth 1-people and 2-stuff, there will be theft. Well, neither is going away anytime soon. So what do we do?  

The first thing is to make the decision to take your store back from the enemy. Putting the solution off will not fix the problem and it will get worse. The second is to implement the two proven solutions. Training and a Sensormatic system. 

TRAINING – Over the past 35 years I have heard countless retailers say the same thing. “I don’t know what I can or cannot do with or about shoplifters”. Shoplifters are no different than any other business challenge we face. Attack it head-on. Loss Prevention Systems can educate you on what you can and cannot do. But more importantly, we will take you off the defensive and put you on the offense. Now I know what you may be thinking right now. “I am not going to chase shoplifters down and tackle them!”. Well, I am glad we got that out because we do not want you to do that either. We want to prevent the loss from occurring (that’s why we call ourselves Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. What a coincidence, huh?).  

Training should cover a discussion of the problem itself, the law both criminal and civil, who shoplifters are and how to spot them before they even steal, going on the offensive with customer service tactics and more. We do this live via webinar with as many of your folks as you can pull together. I have actually found that most of the time we need to do two sessions so we do not leave the store short staffed or someone misses out. Training will help give you the confidence to attack the shoplifting scourge head-on. 

SENSORMATIC SYSTEM – “So if I am trained, why do I need a Sensormatic system and Sensormatic security labels?” Great question, glad you asked that! (sorry, I am in one of those moods) Consider this, training is only half of the solution. You and your staff can be trained up in the techniques to prevent and deal with shoplifting but you cannot be everywhere at once, even in a small boutique. Shoplifters WILL create an environment where they can steal. On top of that what you will find is that some of your “best” customers are also actually stealing from you. Yes, that good customer is buying merchandise, either small inexpensive items or even more expensive ones but they are actually stealing other merchandise in addition to that. And because they are a “best” or frequently seen customer less attention is paid to their activities. They are kind of a fixture, they hang out a bit, joke with the staff, ask questions and then…. They are simply not observed because “that’s just Sam or Wendy, they are really nice”. 

So to handle all that you will find that a Sensormatic system is actually cheaper than additional payroll. In addition to that, the Sensormatic system never takes a day off, does not call in sick or no show. The Sensormatic system is working 24/7. Actually, many of our systems actually power themselves down after you close to save on your energy bill. They automatically wake themselves up when you come in the next day. 

A Sensormatic system has two benefits. It sends a message to the thieves (real customers do not care) and prevents losses. And, of course, the tags and labels are actually protecting your merchandise and bottom line. 

So there are no more excuses. Make this year the best yet for sales you make and actually keep the margin make on the bottom line. Grinch, GO AWAY! Contact us today. We can make both Training and a Sensormatic system your reality. 


Loss Prevention Systems For The New Year

For a loss prevention officer, the holiday season is a hard time to be jolly when the busiest shopping season of the year brings with it its shoplifters, crime, and theft.  During the holiday season, the number of incidents involving shoplifting increases considerably, and the losses the store suffers can be devastating to their bottom line.

For any retail store in the United States and across the globe, having a loss prevention system in place or a loss prevention officer in their store can be the difference between having profits or losses during their fiscal year. 

According to recent studies, more than half of retail stores in the United States have stopped investing in their loss prevention teams or systems even though their inventory shrink rate has seen an increase in the last year.  The inventory shrink rate takes into consideration the following:

  • Shoplifting
  • Employee theft
  • Vendor fraud
  • Administrative and paperwork errors

Shoplifting theft accounts for almost 40% of the total theft a store experiences, and even though the amount an employee steals can surpass that of the common shoplifter each instance it happens, the shoplifting theft can be considerable every year.

According to many pieces of research, retail stores lose approximately $35 million a day due to shoplifting or $48.9 billion in a year. Those detrimental statistics in the retail industry are worth considering when many stores and businesses decide whether to invest in a loss prevention system or a loss prevention team to combat the shoplifting in their store.

A loss prevention system expense can be recovered within a short period of time, and if your losses are increasing each year, the time you will recoup the money invested in the system shortens considerably. 

The introduction of a loss prevention system in the store allows your employees to dedicate more time with the customers entering your store, than attempting to catch the shoplifter. The system also allows your store to be protected and send a message to the shoplifters. Shoplifters know where and which stores to target.  If you are a store that doesn’t prosecute shoplifters or doesn’t have a loss prevention team or system, you are vulnerable and can become the target store for many of these shoplifters.


Hiring Well For The Holiday Season

For the retail industry and small businesses in general, the holiday season has started, and for them, this season can be a financial boost for their business.

The significant change in sales, profits, and employment take a front seat during the holiday season, and it can be a breaking or making point for many businesses across many industries.

By November, the retail industry has hired many part-time sales personnel to help with the holiday season, expecting those employees will be ready when black Friday sales start.   Many of those businesses will let go many of those employees, but some of them will stay with the business well after the season is over. 

The benefits associated with keeping those employees on payroll are many, but most importantly, it is the expense associated with hiring new employees every few months that make sense. Many businesses strive to hire quality employees and can see the benefit in training them and keeping them well after the holiday season is over.  The expense of hiring new employees regularly makes no financial sense for them considering the rise in costs associated with it.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the cost of hiring a new employee is $4,129.  Not only that,  but it also takes weeks for those employees to be ready to perform their job well, and if not trained properly, the cost of retraining puts a financial strain in the business and their profits.

When paying for a background check before hiring a new employee, or for proper training the first time around, the costs associated with acquiring quality employees can become minimal if done properly the first time around. 

Many businesses now a day hire new employees constantly, never training them well and getting rid of them before their first paycheck arrives.  That’s a very costly way of acquiring employees or retaining the ones they have, and acquiring good employees using this method is riddled with problems from the beginning.

A business needs to invest in properly hiring and training their new hires.  The financial benefits will follow for the business.


Strategies to Keep Black Fridays From Becoming Bleak Fridays (A Focus on Sales, Safety and Security)

Black Friday and the holiday shopping weekend has generally been the time of the year that most retailers are excited about. This is the time when shoppers are going to pull out their wallets and spend money. Deep discounts, doorbusters, even gift bags for the first customers, have been used to entice shoppers to visit stores early. It has been so successful as a marketing tool that stores have even advertised early Black Friday sales in JULY! Unfortunately, it seems that there has been a dark cloud overshadowing this weekend and it is more ominous each year. This cloud is one that can turn a Black Friday into a Bleak Friday if a store owner isn’t prepared for it.

     The black cloud involves the safety and security of customers and retail sales for the store owners. There are factors owners must take into account to keep that cloud from raining on a weekend that should be making shoppers happy and keeping registers ringing. As a Loss Prevention Manager, I have seen to it that my stores have remained safe during the Black Friday weekend but I have followed incidents at other stores where things turned ugly. Customers have gotten hurt rushing into stores. People have fought over doorbuster items that were limited in quantity. I have had to intervene when shoppers argued over not receiving a raincheck for a one-time purchase item. I have also worked a Black Friday when all of the registers went off-line and customers became angry and abandoned shopping carts. All of these can have a negative impact on sales and hamper the weekend that should be one of significant profits for a store.

     Here are some suggestions for preparing your store and employees for the event:

  • One of the things that set customers off is waiting in a line only to find out that a particular doorbuster is sold out. If you have some item you expect will draw in customers but there is a limited quantity, have a ticket for each item. Have someone go through the line as it forms and ask who is there for that item. Pass out the tickets and set aside enough to fill those orders. Continue to do this until you open the doors. If you run out of tickets before you open the doors be honest with the customers who are continuing to walk up and let them know you are out of that item.
  • Consider hiring a security company to provide a presence at the front of the stores to help keep order. A lot of altercations begin outside when people who have formed orderly lines and have waited patiently believe others are cutting in front of them. They are also a great presence to keep shoppers safe as they leave with their purchases to go to their cars. If you don’t want to hire security you can see if local police are willing to make frequent drive-by’s. Another alternative is to have two or three employees mingle with the line, talk about the sale items and even hand out store maps where specific sale items are located.
  • Check all of your point of sale equipment at least a week in advance to try to ensure there are no equipment failures on Black Friday.
  • Have a technician test all of your electronic article surveillance equipment to minimize false alarms and reduce the opportunity for theft to take place.
  • A lot of cash transactions take place on this holiday weekend and it is a good time for counterfeit bills to be passed. Be sure cashiers are using counterfeit pens for $50 and $100 bills. If possible a counterfeit bill detector for each point of sale is a better solution. Know that if you take counterfeit bills your store is not reimbursed or covered by your financial institution.
  • If your store happens to use display cases for some high ticket items, be sure more than one employee is carrying keys to assist customers and minimize wait times (also consider all of the retail anti-theft options available from Sensormatic that can improve security while enhancing sales).
  • Think about offering free coffee or tea to patrons who may be waiting outside for the store to open. You would be surprised at the positive response you will get from shoppers.

By taking the time to prepare in advance and plan out your Black Friday weekend you can minimize safety and security risks. The same planning will boost sales and ensure that your business truly experiences a very profitable holiday.


Combating Shoplifting In Your Business

One of the most prevalent crimes in the United States is shoplifting.  While many state governments and lawmakers have taken a strong approach to combat shoplifting, it is a battle that keeps the retail industry checking their loss prevention measures, and their ability to combat this crime.

According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, (NASP) the retail industry loses approximately $35 million per day. Even when advances in technology have aided the loss prevention team in combating this crime, figures about shoplifting has shown an increase in the average inventory shrink rate to 1.44 percent. 

The average shrink rates take into consideration shoplifting, internal theft, vendor or merchant errors and administrative errors.  And although shoplifting accounts for more than a third of the losses, internal or employee theft is pretty close behind.  An employee that is using the cash register as their personal piggy bank, or an employee that steals merchandise worth hundreds of dollars in one incident can be as detrimental as the shoplifter entering the store and stealing merchandise from the shelves.

How can you prevent or combat shoplifting in your store?

Training – One of the best measures for the prevention of shoplifting is training the loss prevention team and management of the store to spot and react accordingly when witnessing a theft. If a theft is happening and a trained employee is a witness to the incident, merchandise can be salvaged and the shoplifter can be apprehended without having the incident escalate to violence.

Hiring – Background checks before hiring an employee can save you time and money.  An employee with a clean employment record can be hired and trained and become an asset to the business right away. According to the 2014 Industry Training Report, small companies with less than 1,000 employees spent an average of $1,238 per training per employee that year. If the new employee is not properly checked or interviewed, the company might lose money and labor that eventually translates into loses for the business and their ability to grow.

Customer Service – The research regarding this important area in the retail industry is unanimous in their findings.  Better customer service means less theft.  Not only that, but better customer service translates into more profits.  Happy customers can be an asset to any business.  Good PR can mean more sales, more customers and more profits.

Shoplifting System – Installing a shoplifting system in your store is part of a solution to the problem, not a whole solution by itself.  The system will discourage thieves and employees from taking merchandise out of the store without paying, and that is an advantage you cannot do without.

If you are interested in installing a shoplifting system, training your personnel, or using background checks to perfect hiring, call us.  We are a company dedicated to providing stores and other businesses the tools necessary to succeed.


We Installed A Sensormatic System. Our Shoplifting Problems Are Over, Right?

NO! not yet. Before we begin patting ourselves on the back you must remember that your Sensormatic System is only part of your shoplifting solution. Your Sensormatic System will protect your merchandise however, many shoplifters are determined and will try to steal anyway. The Sensormatic System itself is a deterrent. Its mere presence will dissuade many shoplifters.

There are TWO PARTS to the shoplifting solution. Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. (LPSI) did not invent them, we simply perfected them both. So in your case:

✓  Sensormatic System installed by Loss Prevention Systems.

 Staff training by Loss Prevention Systems. LPSI includes FREE anti-shoplifting training with every Sensormatic system you purchase from us, as often as you reasonably need it.

Let’s discuss the training to teach your staff how to deter shoplifters. First, we have to get our heads straight about your Sensormatic System. The system is there protecting your tagged merchandise 24/7. It is critical to have but you must realize that to fully stop shoplifters, the first line of defense must be customer service. Shoplifters hate customer service. They do not want you near them and need privacy to conceal your merchandise even if only for a moment.

We want to teach your staff to approach every customer and at a minimum greet them. Did you know that over half of all shoplifters are classified as “impulse” shoplifters? An impulse shoplifter is someone who has entered your store and will only shoplift if you give them the opportunity. Many studies over the years have shown that most impulse shoplifters will not shoplift in your store, during that visit if they are properly greeted! Wow, that means that if you or your staff greet them when they walk in the door with a verbal greeting such as “welcome to xxxx” and as important use good eye contact that it is likely that the impulse shoplifter will not steal from you during that visit! So you have put a serious dent in your shoplifting losses by just greeting customers.

Of course, greeting customers also helps us to achieve higher sales. It gives the legitimate customer a chance to ask a question and makes them feel more at home. Think about it, good customers love customer service, shoplifters hate it. Customer service everyone to death and increase your sales and reduce your shoplifting losses all with one technique.


 

Children shoplifting: how parents are using kids to steal for them and/or kids shoplifting on their own

I was once asked why I kept toys on my desk in my Loss Prevention office. I had two reasons, the first was they were collectible superhero figurines (The Tick to be precise) and the other was to keep children entertained. It is a sad fact in Retail Loss Prevention but there are children who shoplift, there are parents who shoplift and there are parents who use their children to help shoplift. As a Loss Prevention professional, it is not hard to handle an adult who steals. There may be anger, tears, and pleading but these are adults and they made a choice to steal so there should be consequences. What is not so easy to cope with is the child who has to sit in the office while the parent is being processed and does not understand what is taking place. There were many instances when I had to try to keep these young ones entertained as mom or dad were answering questions about the crime, providing personal information or trying to contact a family member or friend who would be willing to pick up the child. Add to the mix a parent who is throwing a conniption fit or making the scenario worse by bawling and wailing in front of the child begging you to let them go “Just this one time and it won’t ever happen again, I promise.” It becomes quite annoying. It also upsets the child who becomes a prop for the parent. The toys were my prop to entertain the children in a pinch.

     It may be hard to comprehend but aside from just shoplifting with their kids in tow, there are parents who use their children as tools or props to commit their crimes. What is worse than a parent who removes a price tag from a purse, straps it over their daughter’s shoulder and walks out with her and the purse? Well, it could be worse when the parent scolds the child and tells her she shouldn’t have done that when the parent is caught by Loss Prevention. Then there are the parents who walk through the store pushing a baby in an infant stroller with the little baby covered by a blanket. What can these doting mothers and fathers do with a cute little baby you may ask? It turns out baby strollers with blankets make great hiding places for designer blue jeans…MANY pairs of designer jeans. Aw gee, let’s not forget one of my all-time favorites, the pregnant mommy who gets more pregnant simply by walking through the store gathering clothing.

     If you aren’t shocked by now it could shake you up to know that some parents not only use their children as props or to disguise their own theft, some will steal while the children steal too. I caught two mothers and their combined five children ALL stealing in my store. The children wandered around areas of the store that interested them and the mothers did likewise. Everyone took their turn cleaning house. I once caught a father and his teenage son stealing jeans in a department store I worked in. It really gave perspective to the term, “Like father like son”… although I think the saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” also came to mind. The unfortunate reality is, those cute, cherubic faces and tiny tots may not be just little cutie pies accompanying their mom or dad in your store. It is not uncommon for these youngsters to be covers for theft or potentially cranky crooks themselves.

     So how should retailers handle situations like these to prevent shoplifting family frolics? The number one deterrent to all shoplifters is customer service for everyone. Adults, as well as children, should be acknowledged and assistance offered. Electronic Article Surveillance systems will discourage adults from stealing. And while the systems may help prevent teenaged terrors from 5-finger discounts they will probably not have the same effect on young kids. It is probably not a good idea to try to stop a shoplifter if you do not have trained Loss Prevention Personnel working for you. Bad stops and aggressive shoplifters can lead to costly and/or dangerous situations. Aggressive, non-stop customer service is in order if you have a strong suspicion someone is stealing. Most importantly don’t let yourself be duped by those cute-chubby cheeked darlings. Those families might not be as charming as they look.


      

RFID Technology

For a small business owner, bringing sales to their business is not an easy feat.  It requires lots of hard work and diligence.  For an owner or manager of a retail store, it requires a lot of hard work to be profitable and to prevent shrink and losses in their stores. 

For them, the acquisition of affordable technology and software to help them prevent losses due to shoplifting, shrinkage, clerical or merchant errors is instrumental in having a successful and profitable business.

For many years now, the increased use of technology and the benefits associated with it has been self-evident in many industries, and the retail industry is no exception.

The value and transformation technology has brought to retailers, merchants and customers have been invaluable to them and to their bottom line. Technology usage has allowed them to decreased costs while maintaining better data and solutions that allow them to target specific areas within their business.

RFID systems and software have been around for many years now, but the adoption rates have increased considerably over the last few years due the lower cost and ease of use. Still, small retailers that are struggling financially will be less inclined to invest in an RFID system or any other type of loss prevention system despite needing it most.

The cost associated with acquiring a system that will help prevent losses, and help you target issues in your retail store can help you recover the cost associated with the system within a year in many cases.

Loss prevention systems and the costs associated with them can vary considerably, but businesses have many options depending on what they want the system to accomplish. Here is a technology linked with the retail industry that may be gaining ground with many benefits associated with its adoption.

RFID technology

  • RFIDs systems usage has provided many merchants great ROI and revenue increase within the first year of usage. The capabilities of this system to provide accurate inventory to the store owner or manager of the stores has seen an increase in their revenues while providing customers the merchandise they need and want.
  • RFID technology will allow businesses across industries up to the minute data and reliable inventory data.
  • RFID technology will save expenses where inventory related labor is concerned while achieving better and more accurate inventory data.

Acquiring a  loss prevention system can be daunting in the beginning due to the financial expense the business has to go through, but it is necessary if the business wants to stay competitive and profitable.