In the first part of this series I talked about merchandise protection strategies I am seeing in some stores that make no sense to me. There are two extremes I am noticing lately. The first I covered in Part 1 is the removal of merchandise from lock-up cases which I approve of, but the stores are not taking steps to protect those items with Alpha Keepers or electronic article surveillance (EAS) tags. Some of these stores are also removing retail anti-theft devices apparently due to a perception that they are no longer needed. Not protecting product is what I take issue with in these stores. The other extreme I am seeing and I have first-hand knowledge of is locking up MORE merchandise and what amounts to selling out of the stockroom. The companies that are doing this are already using Alpha Keepers but are doing some odd things that nullify the way Keepers can help improve sales.
If you missed Part 1 let me quickly review what Alpha Keepers are. They are retail anti-theft devices that give store owners the ability to take merchandise out of locking display cases and out of stockrooms and display the goods for customers to look at without the assistance of a store associate. The Keepers are clear boxes, with lids that are locked when merchandise is placed in them. Stores are provided with special detachment keys that are used to unlock boxes and other Alpha devices and the keys are usually secured at the point of sale. The boxes allow customers to handle merchandise and they can carry an item with them around the store without requiring someone to open a display case. Since the customer can carry the item with them there is no requirement to make multiple purchases or wait at a register for their merchandise to be brought to them when they are ready to check out. They also free up store associates so they don’t have to retrieve merchandise from showcases or stockrooms and can focus on customer service.
The trend I am annoyed at is stores that use Alpha Keepers are not trusting in the technology. I am seeing more and more empty box displays for merchandise on store shelves. I am also seeing cardboard product placards hanging on peghooks that have a picture of the product but nothing there. These two things are irritating enough but to add fuel to the fire (well, my fiery indignation anyways) these stores are also placing these cardboard pictures or placards inside the Alpha boxes! Is the person making this decision afraid the cardboard is going to be stolen? Think about it, a customer picks up the box with the secured picture in it, walks it up to the cashier and asks for the item that is not inside the locked Keeper. Quoting comedian Bill Engvall’s stupid people routine, “Here’s Your Sign”.
I mentioned that part of the benefit of using retail anti-theft devices is that the customer can carry merchandise around the store and associates are freed up from unlocking showcases and retrieving merchandise from stockrooms. It drives sales up because customers tend to buy more when they don’t have to wait for help to get merchandise. Guess what associates have to do when empty display boxes and placards inside of boxes are used? That’s right! The associate has to go to a locked stockroom to retrieve merchandise and the customer has to wait.
Retail anti-theft devices are meant to protect merchandise, work in conjunction with electronic article surveillance towers to deter and detect attempts at shoplifting. They work, especially when associates are trained to properly respond to EAS tower alarms or built in device tamper alarms. Allow the technology to work for your store to drive up sales and reduce shortage.
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