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Securing Your Business: 10 Tips for Preventing Shoplifting

Sep 24, 2020|

All retailers, whether large or small, are familiar with the effects of shoplifting. Shoplifting is responsible for 38% of inventory loss around the country each year, and a staggering $32 billion annually.

For small retail businesses, the effects can have drastic consequences. Fortunately, there are plenty of effective ways you can both reduce and prevent shoplifting altogether.

Take a look at some of the best tips for preventing shoplifting.

Top Tips for Preventing Shoplifting 

1. Warn shoplifters

When it comes to preventing shoplifting, signage goes a long way. You've probably seen signs when shopping yourself that warn, "Shoplifters will be prosecuted" or "These premises protected by video surveillance," among others.

If you are worried your signs will be considered idle threats, don’t be. Research shows they are an effective way to help prevent retail theft; one survey found 84% of customers noticed security signage, and approximately 70% believed the words on the signs.

preventing shoplifting
Signage can have a big impact on preventing shoplifting in your store.

2. Keep your store well-organized

A clean, well-organized store not only provides a better customer experience, but it also makes it harder for shoplifters to get away with stealing. A messy, unorganized store or one that has pallets of merchandise or stock sitting unattended makes it easy for shoplifters to quickly grab items.

You can also arrange your store to ensure the checkout area is by the exit rather than the back, which makes it harder for thieves to leave unnoticed.

well-organized clothing store
When your store is well-organized, it's harder for thieves to get away with stealing.

3. Install extra security at exits

Another effective and common shoplifter prevention technique is to place extra security or checks at the exit, such as:

  • A security guard, which provides an effective warning.
  • Marking and checking receipts, which not only cuts down on retail theft but also helps prevent accidental overcharges.

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4. Employ a greeter

A greeter's role is exactly like it sounds–to greet customers as they come into the store. Not only is this a great way to enhance the customer experience, but it also lets everyone who walks into the store know someone is aware of their presence. Greeters can also do double duty by acting as receipt checkers upon exit.

While you're at it, improving customer service, in general, can help curb shoplifting. For example, asking customers if you can help them find anything or asking how they’re doing is a great customer service tactic. But for a shoplifter, it's also a deterrent–they don't want to be noticed by employees.

retail store greeter
Another way to prevent shoplifting? Have a greeter at the front of your shop.

5. Take advantage of tech

There are plenty of technology options for shoplifting prevention for stores and budgets of all sizes. Some of the most popular and effective include:

  • RFID tags. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags are the tags you see on things like clothing, shoes, and electronics that sound an alarm upon exit from the store if they are not removed at the point of sale. These are not only effective but popular; RFID tags are either already used or plan to be used by 96% of retailers.
  • Bells that signal entry and exit. For smaller stores, a simple bell or chime that sounds when someone enters or exits your store can be an effective way to let you know someone is in the store.
  • POS (point of sale) activation. No one wants to steal something that doesn't work, making POS activation for costly items (especially electronics, computers, or video games) a smart solution.

6. Keep high-value merchandise secure

If you have high-value merchandise or at-risk items that are commonly targeted, keep them locked up behind a glass door or counter. Many high-value items, such as jewelry or watches, are small enough to quickly pocket unnoticed. Keeping them protected means extra time and effort, something most shoplifters aren't willing to put forth.

7. Prioritize employee training

Your employees can be an excellent asset in helping you stop shoplifting. Loss prevention should be part of your ongoing employee training and can include topics such as:

  • Shoplifting prevention techniques, such as product placement
  • Behavioral indicators of potential shoplifters
  • Preventing and avoiding profiling
  • Official store procedure for confronting shoplifters or reporting shoplifting
employee team meeting
It's also important to train all of your employees on loss prevention best practices.

8. Learn to spot shoplifter traits

While you may focus on physical characteristics (such as a customer's attire or appearance), research on shoplifting has shown that shoplifters are more accurately identified by behavior rather than race or demographics.

Some of the most common red flags, as identified by retailers, include:

  • Carrying a large bag. For parents, a big bag may be for function. But very large bags allow shoplifters to shovel in large items or a high quantity of merchandise and make off with it quickly.
  • Focusing on staff members rather than merchandise. Most people who shop are more interested in the items for sale; shoplifters are on the lookout for anyone who may be watching them.
  • Wearing very baggy clothing or clothing that is not appropriate for the season, such as a bulky coat or sweatshirt in warm weather.
  • Lingering in a specific area. Customers who linger are typically waiting for the right moment to make their move.

9. Don't forget about employee theft

Sometimes, shoplifting is an inside job. Employee theft is a surprisingly common occurrence; according to data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 75% of employees have admitted to stealing from their employers.

You can help cut this number down by learning common methods of employee theft (such as sneaking merchandise out in recycling bins or not accurately recording returns), installing security camera systems in warehouses or inventory rooms, and conducting thorough pre-employment screenings.

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10. Install security cameras

We've saved the best for last. What's the number one tip for preventing shoplifting? Installing security cameras. An effective security camera system offers numerous benefits, including:

  • 24/7 surveillance of your premises, both inside and out
  • Visual deterrent against retail theft
  • Assistance in prosecuting shoplifters

A business security system from Vivint, for example, provides a comprehensive set of cameras for the inside and outside of your business. Features include HD resolution, wide-angle lenses for superior picture quality and expanded viewing area; proactive protection with Smart Sentry, which identifies lurkers and lets them know they've been spotted; and infrared night vision.

And with 24/7 monitoring, you have added peace of mind knowing your business is protected around the clock.

vivint ping indoor camera
Installing security cameras is one of the smartest moves you can make in preventing shoplifting.

Let Vivint help you protect your business

You've invested too much time and money in your business to let shoplifters affect your bottom line. Let Vivint help you protect your business with a customized security system. Contact our Smart Home Pros today at 800.646.1469 for a free quote.

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