Theft from customers and employees is a persistent risk year-round, but tends to increase exponentially during the holiday season. If you operate a retail store, it s important to take the necessary steps to avoid excessive theft. This includes things such as hiring security, training employees to spot thieves, and knowing where to stock your items.
Examine the Cart
A lot of holiday retail business theft occurs simply by having additional items hidden in the cart. It may be items in the bottom section of the cart, a smaller item in the corner or something flat underneath the customer’s purse or bag. Employees who take a moment to examine the cart before finishing the transaction may be able to catch and prevent some of these thefts.
Monitor Self Check-Out Kiosks
Many stores now have self check-out available, whether they are large retailers or smaller businesses. If your store has a self check-out area, make sure you have an employee keeping a close eye on the customers. Many times, the theft is actually unintentionally and they simply did not scan an item. As long as all of your products have proper barcodes that must be scanned or that will beep when taken out of the store, you should be able to avoid stealing items by using the self check-out lane.
Place Items Strategically
Your high-ticket items, whether large like televisions or small expensive jewelry, should always get extra care when placing them in the store. All high valued items need to be in a location where there is always an employee nearby. Additionally, place expensive items near the middle-back of the store, where there are not any easy exits to grab the product and run without getting caught. Never place these products near the exits.
Not all thefts can be avoided, especially in situations where it is not safe for employees to confront a customer who has taken something. In these cases, it helps to have security on staff. Even if you don’t have a need for security staff for the rest of the year, you really should consider hiring experienced security guards during the holiday season.
Employees should be trained prior to the holiday season on keeping a lookout for customers who may be stealing. These things don’t necessarily guarantee theft, but it is suspicious behavior. This includes appearing nervous, avoiding eye contact and looking up when viewing a product, avoiding employees, wandering the store consistently without making a purchase, lingering in one location where there tend to not be employees around, leaving and returning to the store multiple times and watching as store employees walk around the store.
Reducing Employee Theft
Customers are not the only ones who put your store at risk for theft; you should also be trying to avoid theft from your employees. During the holiday season, start stopping by the store unannounced so employees never get the chance to steal items. Check your cash drawers and inventory often and make sure employees know you are doing this. Check your z-tape numbers and have an updated inventory tracking system. Look for employees who tend to have a lot of “no sales” when looking through their cash register receipts.
Make sure if employees suspect a theft, they are careful for their own safety. An employee should never assume a customer is stealing before they exit the building, without giving them the chance to say they simply forgot to pay. Employees should also not physically confront a customer and attempt to grab back an item. Unfortunately, not all thefts can be avoided, so crime insurance is essential for protecting your business assets.