Shrinkage, or retail theft, can have a serious impact on your bottom line. The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention says more than $35 million worth of goods are stolen from retailers every day. And while all businesses are susceptible to shoplifting, some — like clothing, book and jewelry sellers — are more so.
While teaching your staff to spot and handle shoplifters properly is a crucial deterrent, you can also implement store design tactics to help prevent stealing. Here are 10 of the best ways your retail small business can deter shoplifters today:
- Maximize Visibility: Keeping an eye on merchandise is the first step in loss prevention. Place shorter displays close to the register and taller displays near the perimeter of the store so all merchandise is completely visible from your perch. Use mirrors to eliminate any blind spots, and be sure to keep your store neat and tidy, so employees can tell at a glance if something is missing or out of place.
- Share Your Shoplifting Policy: Determine your shoplifting policy and communicate it to your customers with posted signs. Posting statements such as, "Shoplifters Will Be Prosecuted," can act as an effective deterrent.
- Have Visible Security Systems: Whether you use security mirrors, faux cameras, motion sensors or security guards, make sure your security systems are visible to customers. Knowing you have security measures in place will stave off shoplifters.
- Lock It Up: Protect merchandise by monitoring and limiting access to display cases and dressing rooms. Requiring employee assistance with certain products provides an extra line of defense.
- Relocate Your Register: When cash registers are next to the entry and exit points in your store, customers are forced to walk past employees when they come and go. Make sure registers are manned at all times and employees know to keep a watchful eye on customers.
- Be Aware: Employees should be alert at all times in your store, especially during opening, closing and restocking hours. Know which merchandise is most appealing to shoplifters (hint: small and/or expensive items) and place it in prominent areas, where employees can see it.
- Know How to Spot a Shoplifter: Certain behaviors should put your employees in alert mode. Watch for customers who appear nervous, stare at employees or other customers, wander aimlessly around the store, hang out in hard-to-monitor areas, and repeatedly leave and return.
- Have a Presence: Greet every customer and offer help throughout the shopping process. Not only will your presence remind potential shoplifters they’re being watched, but your vigilance will give you the added opportunity to track merchandise, especially items that go in and out of a dressing room.
- Implement a Bag-Check Policy: Don’t allow customers to bring bags and backpacks into the dressing room area, as they can be used to hide merchandise. Welcome customers to check bags with an employee before they enter.
- Inspect All Purchases: At the register, take a minute to double-check merchandise, like purses and baskets, that can be used to store and steal additional items. Even if you’ve got a customer making a purchase, there’s still the chance an extra item or two ended up inside.
While it may not be possible to completely eliminate shoplifting, you can certainly make it more difficult for would-be thieves to rob you. Follow these tips for store design and customer service to make your retail store less attractive to shoplifters.