From the blog 5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Stop Retail Shrinkage

Shrinkage—a retail store owner’s worst nightmare.

In 2018, retailers across the US lost $50.6 billion to theft, fraud and other types of shrinkage, or shrink. That’s up from $46.8 billion in 2017. Both numbers are entirely too high, and the upward trend is alarming.

As a retail leader, you undoubtedly take anti-shrink precautions. But could you be doing more? Maybe. And that’s what this article is about.

Here are 5 things you can do right now to stop retail shrinkage at your brick-and-mortar store.

1. Post warnings about shoplifting

Stores in the US lose more than $45 million every day to shoplifters. Yes—every day. Shoplifters are clearly an active bunch, so it pays to do what you can to curb your risks.

One of the simplest ways you can prevent shoplifting is also one of the easiest. Post warnings around your store.

Anti-shoplifting signs should make two things clear. One, you’re paying attention. And two, you’re serious about prosecuting shoplifters. In fact, your signs should even say that you prosecute shoplifters just to make it completely clear. And they should be displayed where potential shoplifters can easily see them.

Of course, simple signage won’t stop every shoplifter. But it can help decrease your losses, and that’s the idea.

2. Educate your staff

Employees are some of your best weapons against shoplifting. Unfortunately, employees also are responsible for much of the theft that happens at retail stores. At the average retailer, employees represent 30% of inventory losses.

Therefore, it’s important to teach employees about how to spot shoplifters. And it’s important to tell them about the penalties they face for stealing from your store, such as being fired and facing criminal charges.

To fight shoplifting, we recommend your employees be trained to look out for customers who…

  • Avoid eye contact
  • Wear bulky clothing that could conceal shoplifted items
  • Repeatedly pick up items and put them down, looking as if they’re confused
  • Frequently visit the restroom, where they might be stuffing merchandise into clothing or bags

In addition, employees should greet all customers who come into your store. This sends a clear message to potential shoplifters. Your staff is paying attention. They know who’s in the store and what customers are doing. Good customer service doesn’t just improve the customer experience. It helps to protect your store, too.

As for workers who might be tempted to steal, be sure to go over policies about employee theft during new-hire orientations. Explain that employee theft, through shoplifting and other crimes, isn’t tolerated.

Additionally, it’s smart to encourage employees to confidentially report co-workers who they’ve seen stealing.

“When you take time to train your staff members about how to recognize shoplifters, you enlist their help in preventing customer theft.” – Retail Next

3. Protect valuable merchandise

It’s one thing if someone steals a $1 pen. It’s quite another if someone steals a $1,000 ring.

Items that are pricey but small are a goldmine for shoplifters, as they can be quickly and discreetly pocketed. Keep valuable merchandise like jewelry or electronic devices in a locked cabinet or behind a sales counter so shoppers don’t have easy access to them.

If nothing else, make sure high-dollar goods are always visible to you and your employees.

4. Keep an eye on inventory

Assign trusted employees to accept and open shipments, and to put the inventory where it belongs. Be sure to check goods inside boxes against your order paperwork, and enter every item in your inventory system before it’s stored or stocked. Employees should sign off on the shipping and inventory lists.

Taking these steps can reduce paperwork errors as well as employee theft.

5. Promote tidiness

A disorganized, messy, overcrowded store makes it easier to steal merchandise.

Why? It’s harder to tell when inventory is missing, and it’s harder to spot suspicious activity.

A clean, well-laid-out store signals that you care about your business and that you’re monitoring what’s going on. This approach can help deter theft by customers and employees.

Are you ready to grow together?