What Were You thinking? Questions I Ask Myself About Merchandise Strategies, Theft Prevention And Electronic Article Surveillance
Have you ever had those moments where you’ve seen something and you just had to wonder, “What were they thinking?” I believe most of us have and from a customer and Retail Loss Prevention Manager’s perspective I do this in stores quite a bit. Sometimes it is based on merchandising strategies and sometimes how they intend to stop shoplifting:
• Dump bins – Can someone please explain to me the sales strategy behind these? How does dumping bazillions of dvd’s or videogames into a box and expecting potential customers to dig through to find one gem they really want (at a $3-$5 price point) enhance sales? I’ve tried to dig through these things and after an avalanche of movies crashes down on me as I get near the bottom of the bin I quit.
• Lawn and Garden shops at stores – why do you have a fenced in area and then have merchandise on the outside of the fence? Worse yet, you have your point of sales INSIDE the building, not even a register by the fence exit. I am certain most customers will pick up merchandise and walk it all the way back in to make a purchase but I am just as certain there are people picking up items and walking off with them.
• Why do stores have TEN shelf checkout lanes with one cashier monitoring them all? Four is okay, but inevitably when I am using a self-checkout with more than four it seems the ONE cashier is constantly busy helping with problem checkouts. I get angry having to wait for several minutes for assistance when I was going through the self-checkout to speed up the process not slow down.
• Similar to the outside the fence garden shop merchandise strategy, how about the shoe store sidewalk sale with no one manning the sidewalk? What were you thinking? Yes, those stores have electronic article surveillance towers and nope, they won’t detect Checkpoint tags that are already past the towers.
Are there answers out there to my questions? I know someone in a business has a reason for the decisions, but that does not mean it is necessarily a smart decision. This is especially true for stores that are trying to stop shoplifting by using Electronic Article Surveillance systems.
Electronic Article Surveillance systems use radio frequency (rf) waves emitted from Checkpoint Tags and picked up by Checkpoint towers to protect merchandise from theft. When merchandise is protected with tags and the tagged merchandise is carried within the detection range of the towers there are alarms and lights in the towers that are activated. The noise and lights of the towers draws a response from store employees who then conduct receipt checks and determine the cause of the activation. With the proper training on addressing alarms, employees can recover merchandise and stop shoplifting from taking place.
Additional “What were they thinking?” moments I have had in regard to merchandise protection:
• Why are anti-theft devices used on some music and movies and not used on others? I just don’t get that.
• Anti-theft device wraps used to secure merchandise and the wraps are then secured to pegboard or shelving! Alert to store managers or Loss Prevention Departments, the purpose of the wrap is to allow the customer to walk around the store while the merchandise is still protected. It is also supposed to free up employees from having to unlock showcases. Guess what they have to do with these displays? That’s right…someone has to unlock them.
• No one responds when Electronic Article Surveillance tower alarms activate! Why is no one trained to respond or responsible for making a response a priority? Why bother with a system?
Merchandise protection is called that for a reason, it is meant to protect merchandise. Doing it in a half- hearted manner does not equate to cutting your shortage in half, it simply means it isn’t being taken seriously by thieves and to a certain extent by the store.
While retailers may have good intentions in their merchandise strategies that does not mean they make sense (at least to me). The same is true for merchandise protection and I have very strong feelings on this. Electronic Article Surveillance and Checkpoint Tags can stop shoplifting when employed to its fullest potential in stores. Tag everything, make alarm response a priority and train all employees and you will see profits rise as shortage decreases. End of rants…for now.
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