Shoplifting is one of those nuisances that all business owners and managers have to deal with. Typically speaking, we do everything we can to keep the shoplifters at a disadvantage not only to discourage them from shoplifting in the first place, but also so that we can identify a shoplifting as it is occurring and to prevent shoplifting from ever happening. One thing you may or may not realize is that you are giving your customers very powerful tools for shoplifting on a daily basis and the worst thing is that they are free! These tools of shoplifting are inevitable in some instances, but there are ways to minimize their access to shoplifters, and to minimize their usefulness to thieves.
So what are these free and valuable tools for shoplifting? They are the various items given to customers when they purchase merchandise that makes them appear to be legitimate shoppers: shopping bags, shopping carts and baskets, security tape, proof of purchase (or POP) labels, and receipts. Now obviously, you shouldn’t simply eliminate the use of these items in your stores. In most cases, they provide much more good than harm. But it is important to know how these items can be abused, and what to do to prevent abuse and prevent shoplifting with these items.
Shopping carts and baskets (including tote bags) are frequently used by shoppers to make their experience convenient. To prevent loss of your hand-baskets and shopping totes, consider attaching an Alpha security device, like an EAS hard tag (if you have electronic article surveillance) to sound at the door if someone leaves with these. They typically stay in the store and are left at checkout. If someone is leaving with them, they are likely attempting to shoplift. This is not the same case for shopping carts, however. Just remain aware of shoppers using shopping carts that are piling them high with high-risk merchandise items.
Many stores use security tape or POP labels as a means of secondary proof of purchase, especially on larger items, or items that are difficult to place in a shopping bag. If these items are left open and unattended on the sales floor, they are an invitation to shoplifters. If they can access these items more readily in a store, they are likely to abuse them, and place them on items that they intend to shoplift. Likewise, giving away shopping bags to customers that have not purchased any merchandise can be a risky practice. Shopping bags are even more inviting to shoplifters, as they both conceal merchandise, and make it appear as though they have been legitimately purchased. These should also be kept out of the open and carefully controlled also. You never know who you are giving them to!
While working retail loss prevention, I remember seeing a shoplifter roll up her jacket sleeves, revealing some security tape that was wrapped around her arm. She immediately placed it over a comforter set that she had just selected from the shelf, and then proceeded to walk out of the store without paying for it.
Changing your shopping bags and colors of security tape on a regular basis also helps. This way, older shopping bags and other colors of security tape are more easily recognized as illegitimate. Giving away shopping bags and security tape to paying customers is inevitable but controlling how long different types of security tape and shopping bags are used will make these potential shoplifting tools much less useful to malicious thieves and deter shoplifting.
For more information contact us: Prevent Shoplifting or call 1.770.426.0547