Creating a Retail Loss Prevention Plan for the Entire Store

Though it may sound ironic, shrinkage is growing. According to the National Retail Federation, nearly half of retailers report that shrinkage (or retail loss due to shoplifting and theft, fraud, errors, etc.) has increased in the past year, with the average shrink rate ticking up to 1.44%. Those numbers add up, resulting in nearly $50 billion lost across U.S. retailers over the past year.

How do you prevent your profits from walking out the door and becoming part of that $50 billion?

The key to effective retail loss prevention is creating a comprehensive plan for the entire store. That starts with security technology like surveillance cameras and GPS tracking devices, but it also requires employee training and engagement, as well as an ability to adapt and modernize in the future. Here are some things to consider when designing and implementing a loss prevention plan for your entire store:


Create Your Plan

Your retail loss plan is only as good as its weakest link, because it’s those weak links that criminals will target and exploit. Any whole-store loss prevention plan should start with an audit of the entire store. A first step may be as simple as upgrading old cameras to take advantage of the latest identification technology and adding hidden cameras to cover your blind spots, but that’s only the beginning. It’s essential to understand that “entire store” really means “entire store,” and those blind spots can be anywhere, including employee areas like break rooms and loading docks.

Every retail store is different and will have differing needs: some types of stores are more prone to customer theft, others are more prone to employee theft, some may be susceptible to smash-and-grabs, and others are more likely to be targeted for digital or identity theft. Take the time to understand your unique needs, which tells you where to focus, and then you can put together a loss prevention kit that meets those specific concerns and areas.


Educate Your Team

Even the best retail loss prevention plans break down if the store team isn’t educated, trained, and supported. At a very basic level, thoroughly explaining the loss prevention plan and tactics sends the message that the store takes theft and fraud seriously. This lets employees know that internal theft is unacceptable and will be actively pursued, while at the same time indicates to them know that you support them in their efforts to prevent theft.

Creating a comprehensive loss prevention plan and communicating it to employees also has a psychological benefit, conveying to employees that the products they are selling have worth, that their workplace is safe, and that their job has value.


Adapt & Stay Engaged

Training your employees on your loss prevention plan requires constant training and updates. One tried-and-true way to keep employees engaged is to keep them updated on successes or failures. If shrinkage has decreased, let them know that the store and team has been successful so they feel a sense of satisfaction while also conveying to them any benefits (i.e. the store can continue to offer pay increases or can hold an end-of-the-year party).

If shrinkage has increased, let them know how it affects them and ask for their thoughts and ideas on how to adapt the loss prevention plan. You may be surprised by what you learn from them, which will allow you to continue adapting the loss prevention plan in the future – and adaptation is essential. New and effective loss prevention tactics may cause criminals to move on and find and exploit new weaknesses. New technologies may open up new opportunities for criminals.

Your business is always changing and so is the retail loss landscape, which requires you to constantly audit your loss prevention plan, evolve, and modernize based on what you learn.

Remember, loss prevention is not just a product or quick-fix – it’s a strategy. You should constantly plan, engage, and adapt.