Theft in retail stores is an ongoing issue that’s escalating in scale. Both organised crime and individual shoplifting statistics continue to rise as retailers speak up about financial losses due to theft.
Theft in the New Zealand retail industry is an ongoing issue that is costing the economy close to $1.3 billion dollars a year, according to Statistics New Zealand. This figure is steadily growing as retail theft becomes progressively worse with the spike in opportunistic and organised retail crime.
While opportunistic shoplifters steal on impulse, organised retail crime syndicates steal ‘to order’ or for material gain, often in huge quantities of merchandise that will cost a retailer thousands of dollars in one hit.
Nick Trudgett, general manager of Checkpoint Systems ANZ, says there are several ways that retailers can combat this shoplifting epidemic.
“Visual deterrents such as Radio Frequency (RF) Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) antennas in stores will immediately inform potential shoplifters that merchandise is protected. Your opportunistic shoplifter will weigh up the risk factors before swiping that packet of batteries or razor blades.”
Trudgett explains that in Checkpoint’s experience of providing end-to-end solutions for retailers, using multiple EAS solutions in stores can deter opportunistic theft and deflect organised retail crime syndicates.
“Organised crime is very different, they are in most cases, stealing to sell on. Now the whole focus of product protection in this aspect is more about benefit denial and time delay. You want to stop them from easily being able to sell on the stolen product or slow them down in the process of theft.”
This can be managed with Checkpoint’s solutions for high-theft products. These include their ‘Shrink Management’ systems which include source tagging, EAS antennas, and their ‘Alpha’ high-theft solution range. Specific tags and solutions that ruin packaging or the products if not removed correctly in store can help deter organised crime.
Apart from physical deterrents such as the Alpha high theft solutions, visible EAS labels are also a direct message to shoplifters that carrying that product out of the store without paying for it will set the EAS antennas off. In addition, personalised Radio frequency labels (RF) that both leave a visible mark, and damage the outer packaging if removed assist in deterring ORC. These EAS labels are especially effective for small concealable items such as cosmetics, perfumes and accessories, which retailers in Australasia have reported as the most desirable for shoplifters according to the latest Global Retail Theft Barometer, an independent study on retail shrinkage across the globe.
Mecca Brands, one of the leading retailers in the beauty industry, carries over 7,000 beauty products which are desirable and expensive to purchase. The retailer was losing as much as 5-8% of sales due to internal and external theft. Once an end-to-end EAS solution in partnership with Checkpoint Systems was put in place across high theft stores in Australia, Mecca Loss Prevention team saw a 50 percent downturn in theft within three months.
Apart from having an EAS system and labels in store, Checkpoint also recommends that retailers examine their store planogram to ensure products that are desirable to shoplifters are within line of sight of the cashier counter or retail assistants.
“Visible deterrents are a retailer’s second line of defence,” Trudgett says. “This includes product protection, CCTV and security guards where applicable. Customer service is the primary deterrent.”
“Greeting a customer and looking them in the eye when they enter a store is often enough to deter a shoplifter as the average shoplifter does not want to be acknowledged or recognised,” says Trudgett.
While good customer service, a well-planned store layout and an EAS system in store can produce a dramatic decrease in theft, shoplifters are becoming more sophisticated in their methods of working around traditional EAS technology. Checkpoint Systems has developed solutions such as the Hyperguard antenna to work around this issue. The Hyperguard is an antenna that alerts retail assistants to foil-lined bags or magnets entering the store, as ORC shoplifters often use these tools to defeat retail security labels or hard tags.
“By choosing a loss prevention partner that delivers a solution, not a product, retailers will get the most ‘bang for their buck’,” says Trudgett. “It’s about choosing a partner who understands the retailer’s risk profile and in turn develops and implements solutions that minimises the retailers exposure to theft.”
“After all, if a shoplifter walks into a store and sees an EAS system, products that are clearly protected, and are immediately greeted by an assistant, and then looks at the store next door that doesn’t have any product protection, which store do you think the shoplifter will target?”
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