Small retail shops are unusually vulnerable to security breaches and shrinkage. Retail businesses are always a target for theft, but independent retailers may not have as much capital to invest in security. The good news? You don’t need to spend a fortune to secure your business. Here are five quick steps you can take to beef up your security today.
- Get a Bell: It’s simple, but effective. Installing a bell over your front door is an easy way to know when someone has entered the store. Whether you opt for an old-school brass hanging bell or a slightly pricier digital chime, it must be audible everywhere — especially anyplace you might go for a quick break where the front door isn’t visible.
- Install a Mirror: A basic security mirror can be an easy and effective deterrent to shoplifting. Properly placed to eliminate blind spots from your perch behind the register, a security mirror can be either flat or convex to widen your visual range. Try placing these high up in the corners of your store.
- Think About Merchandise Placement: Expensive items that are small or easily hidden tend to attract the most shoplifting attempts. Wise retailers will place such items close to the register on short, visible display tables, where they can be actively monitored by one or more employees at all times.
- Improve Store Lighting and Layout: Shoplifters tend to gravitate to a store’s cluttered, low-traffic areas — like between closely situated racks of items or in hard-to-see corners. Keep store aisles uncluttered and at least 36 inches wide to help prevent expert shoplifters from doing their work. Consider adding bright and inexpensive fluorescent lighting to remove any shadows that might attract a criminal element in these spaces.
- Educate Your Staff: It may come as a surprise, but there’s no greater security liability to any retail small business than its employees. At worst, your employees may be the perpetrators of crime or fraud, while others may inadvertently open security holes for shoplifters to leap through. Carefully train your employees to browse the store when customer traffic is high.
"We do employee training around security," says Raj Patel, owner of Sarah’s Market in Cambridge, MA. "I tell them if they see someone just wandering up and down aisles to go up and ask them if they need help and to watch out for groups — they’ll often work as a team, where one will come up and ask some silly questions while the others take stuff." Make sure your employees understand security protocols and how to enforce them when a crime occurs.
Small business security gets easier once you establish some best practices. By taking these steps, you can start diminishing your risk of theft.