One of the reasons why retail stores often factor in theft into their budget is that the there are unique challenges retail stores face in protecting themselves from theft that are either not experienced in other industries or are not experienced as often. But if you are aware of these challenges and how to identify shoplifters, you will be better able to reduce costs associated with shoplifting.
Dispersed Opportunities For Theft
Retail is a uniquely challenging location to protect from crime. Retail centers are geographically dispersed, so it is difficult to predict where the crime will occur. For instance, a bank would have one or two locations where cash could be stolen, but retail merchandise has several locations that can be difficult to defend against.
High Employee Turnover
Another unique challenge of retail is the high turn-over of retail employees. This makes it often not cost-effective to spend money on training employees in sophisticated security practices. Less experienced employees are also more likely to make simple mistakes that can lead to openings for security breaches.
Legitimate Customers Look Like Thieves
With retail, it is almost impossible to differentiate between legitimate customers and shoplifters. New customers are regularly entering a particular store, but those who intend to shoplift can be identified by certain behaviors.
Anyone Can Be A Shoplifter
Shoplifters cannot be profiled by race or gender because shoplifters come in roughly equal amounts from all demographics. The majority of shoplifters begin in their teens. Also, you cannot determine who is a shoplifter by whether they have made a purchase. Even shoplifters who are caught will sometimes steal again because shoplifting can be addictive. Therefore, having a shoplifter prosecuted may not stop him or her from stealing in the future.
Self-Scan Checkouts Can Enable Theft
Many shoplifters will purchase and steal items on the same visit, especially if the store has a self-scan checkout system. A customer can easily scan one item and neglect to scan another. Keeping an employee near the self-scan checkouts can still allow you to reduce the number of employees behind registers, since a single employee can watch multiple self-checkout stations, but will also allow you to deter shoplifters.
The majority of shoplifters are not caught. However, if you can put in features that act as deterrents for theft, you can drastically lower how many items are stolen from your shelves. Retail security systems that combine cameras, attentive store clerks and even security personnel can dissuade customers from taking the risk.