A new year comes with a new round of inventories for retailers. Anyone who has been in retail for more than a year has probably experienced inventory in one form or another. You may have been involved in the preparation or the actual count and verification process. Following inventory, stores will receive results and make action plans to address high shortage departments. If your store is a specialty business, such as only selling apparel, you may have high shortage SKU’s. For the purposes of this article, I would like to address clothing security and the things that should be included in a shortage action plan, including the use of clothing security tags.
There are a lot of factors that can come into play in creating clothing shortage. Obviously theft is a major contributor, both internal and external. Operational factors play a role in shortage also. Does the store utilize clothing security of any type, such as Checkpoint tags? If not, I would recommend that a sound shortage action plan should include clothing security of some type. If the store does use clothing security tags, who places them on the merchandise and how consistent is the placement? Security tags on clothing act as a deterrent to theft by being visible to thieves and they will activate a store EAS system if the store has one. When placement of tags is inconsistent it negates the deterrent value because thieves simply look for the items that are not tagged.
Over the last 25 years, I have been involved in store inventories in one capacity or another. I have counted merchandise, prepped stores for inventory, audited inventory and I have been the designated “inventory captain”, overseeing inventory for the store from start to finish. I have also learned that the creation of shortage action plans can be a team effort or dumped on the Loss Prevention department with the expectation that most of the shortage is theft related and it should be Loss Prevention’s job to address it. I have also seen shortage action plans created that look very good on paper but there is no follow up or accountability built in the plan. Many stores do not have an in-store Loss Prevention staff to create a shortage action plan after an inventory. In those cases, it falls on a store management team to create the plan. Where there is a Loss Prevention department, even if it is a district level manager, stores should partner with Loss Prevention and seek assistance in the formation of an effective plan. From an operational side it may be the store manager commits to having an associate dedicated to auditing clothing security tagging for consistency. Stores can also incorporate in a plan specific training for fitting room attendants and cashier training that includes shortage prevention strategies like looking inside boxes, comforters, and purses for possible hidden merchandise. Training should include proper response to EAS activations, and handling the interaction if unpaid merchandise is located during an alarm response.
Action items are good but two more components that are musts on an effective shortage plan are assignments of responsibility for an action item and time frames. Holding a specific person(s) accountable to an action item makes it more likely that item will be completed. When a plan is vague there is a tendency for no one to take responsibility. The second must is having a target date for follow up or completion. Let’s say an assistant store manager is going to audit Checkpoint tags on jeans, or clothing security tags on leather coats, there need to be expectations on the plan that say how frequently audits will be completed. This may be once a week or once every two weeks. The follow up for the assistant manager may be a results review with the store manager once a week. The other side of the equation is if the assistant manager is finding opportunities, they need to hold the tagger(s) accountable.
Checkpoint tags and other clothing security devices are an effective means to preventing clothing theft and can improve inventory loss due to theft. If your store is experiencing shortage in clothing and you can use some help to get it under control look into what Checkpoint Systems can do for you.
For more information about clothing security contact us or call 1.855.426.0547