For every apparel retailer there comes a steady stream of people who just don’t want to purchase your product. From my experience, it seems like more shoplifters target apparel merchandise than any other section of the store. Maybe because there are a plethora of high dollar, easily concealable items, or that you can get more articles of clothing in a bag, or maybe it’s because most stores are not utilizing security tags on clothes. Whatever the case, apparel theft is huge, and if your store has a fitting room, this could be a part of the problem.
I was training some new in store LP agents recently, when we began to observe a female in our apparel department. We watched as she began selecting random articles of high end clothing, without regard for size. One thing we noticed is that she was particularly attentive to whether or not clothing security devices were used on the pieces she was selecting. Exhibiting all the classic signs of a shoplifter, we began observation. It wasn’t long before she took a pile of clothes into the fitting room. About 25 minutes later, she emerged with what seemed like a smaller pile of clothes. I couldn’t be 100% certain if a theft had taken place, so I just had to watch as she left the store with, what I’m assuming, was a few hundred dollars’ worth of my merchandise. What happened?
The company I work for doesn’t have a fitting room policy. Meaning, there is no employee working this area, and customer can come and go if they choose. This is great for customer service, but it also leaves the store open for theft in a big way. Since there is no control of merchandise going in to the room, it’s almost impossible to make a shoplifting apprehension from the fitting room. Without an accurate number of what went in the stall, there’s no way to tell if the same amount of merchandise had come out. We would routinely find defeated Checkpoint Tags in the stalls at night. We needed a solution.
After several lengthy meetings with our operations group, we decided to test a fitting room policy at a few of our higher shrink stores. The area was staffed with an employee during business hours and now we would limit the amount of items a customer could take into room. In addition, the employee would give the customer a number that matched the number of garments and the clothing would be verified by that employee upon the customer’s exit. The return on investment was almost immediate. The first thing we noticed was a reduction in the number of Checkpoint Tags we would find in the stalls. We also saw a reduction in shrink in the apparel department overall. The biggest challenge we thought we’d face was opposition from our customers, however, what we learned is that most every big box retailer has a similar process. I think no matter the size of your store, if you have a fitting room, you need to implement a control. If not, you will continually open yourself for unnecessary losses caused by shoplifting.
For more information, contact us: Clothing Security, or call 1.770.426.0547