I work in a retail store as a sales associate and I often use my experiences as a Loss Prevention Associate and Manager to stop shoplifting and prevent shortage in the store where I now work. A recent experience made me recall that not all shortage is theft related, some is operational and some we cannot determine which it falls under but it can still be prevented. I was working the cash register and being the back to school season patrons were buying lots of supplies for their students/children. I had one young woman purchasing pencils, paper,  a binder, folders and a few other items. When I got to the binder I scanned the barcode and as I started to place it to the side to scan the next item I realized something was in the binder. I opened it up and there were three 3-hole punched poly dividers that had been inserted inside. I looked at them to ensure they were not a part of the binder and found barcodes on each one. I scanned them and they were about $2.50 each. The customer said she meant to take them out and forgot to do so. It may not sound like a lot but by catching it I was able to prevent $7.50 in shortage or did I stop $7.50 in shoplifting? Either way, money was saved and THAT contributes to store profitability.

Similarly Sensormatic systems can reduce shortage through theft prevention and detecting operational errors. In terms of theft prevention tagged merchandise can be hidden inside a purse, satchel bag, under clothing, etc. and the tags will be detected at the door pedestals. As a retail manager you need to be aware that another method of theft utilized by the bad guys is to conceal merchandise inside other merchandise. In Loss Prevention we use an acronym, L.I.S.A. short for Look InSide Always. It is a method we use to remind cashiers to look inside of places where goods can be hidden. Examples may include, zipper binders, trash cans with lids, storage containers with lids, luggage and so on. If something can be hidden in it a cashier should be looking inside as it is rung up. Think about purses or comforters. Both items are popular for concealing merchandise in and attempting to buy the item and avoiding paying for the hidden merchandise. There are instances where merchandise is simply overlooked because it is on the bottom of a shopping basket. Cases of drinks, bulky paper towels and bags of dog food are items often placed here due to the amount of space they take up in a cart. Unless the shopper and/or the cashier is paying attention they can be missed and go out the door as unpaid merchandise. Of course if a store is using Sensormatic systems and all goods are tagged then the pedestals will alarm and remind the patron that something was missed. The customer and the employee have an opportunity to react and have the item properly processed at the point of sale. 

The situation I described above is not the first time I have encountered hidden merchandise whether it was done intentionally or by someone else. As a Loss Prevention Manager I have seen shoppers come to a register with a blouse and dress jacket on a hanger that looked like they could be sold as a single item. After alerting the cashier to look at both pieces it was found there was a second price tag. The customer changed her mind. Did we stop shoplifting or prevent an honest mistake? I don’t have that answer. What I do know is we prevented the shortage of the blouse if I had not alerted the cashier to look.

As a Loss Prevention professional what I like about Sensormatic systems is that they are not a one-trick pony. They do stop shoplifting but they also impact employee theft and operational shortage. They also help keep vendors honest. I have seen cosmetic and jewelry vendors start to leave after a visit and set off electronic article surveillance alarms. The merchandise was recovered but it could not be determined if the vendor intended to steal or made an honest mistake. Shrink isn’t the result of theft alone and Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. can show you how Sensormatic systems can play a role in reducing all of it.


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