Over the years I have worked for different retailers, and I’ve learned that all companies have different views on loss prevention and how to handle shoplifting in their stores. Most stores will adapt to the activity they are experiencing at the time and adjust their retail theft prevention plan accordingly, but some just stick to the way they have always done things. In regard to shoplifters, the main question debated is which types of shoplifting cases should they focus on to have the most impact on the bottom line. Should loss prevention staff concentrate on quality of apprehensions, and only apprehend high dollar shoplifters, or should they focus on quantity and catch every shoplifter possible?
In my experience, the idea of quantity was the more popular in the past, but lately there has been more focus on the quality of the apprehension. With quantity, the idea is that the more shoplifters you catch, the less you will lose. With quality, the idea is that you should only be focused on shoplifter apprehensions that are of a higher dollar amount or will make the most impact on the bottom line. My personal opinion is that your focus should be a mixture of both. Of course you want stop shoplifting suspects that are walking out the door with $500 worth of merchandise in their cart, but if you think about it, these shoplifters probably didn’t start out taking that much merchandise all at once. They likely started off small and built up to that level of theft.
I have been in a situation in the past where my employer didn’t want us making shoplifter apprehensions on merchandise that was under a specified dollar amount. Their reason for this was mainly return on investment. For example, say the employee stopping the shoplifter made $10 an hour, they wouldn’t want them to stop shoplifting suspects for a $5 item because the amount of money the employee was making wouldn’t justify the time spent on the apprehension. Another thing is that while you are processing a low dollar shoplifting case, you could be missing out on another shoplifter in the store taking more at the same time.
I understand the point, but I have never totally agreed with this point of view. Yes, quality shoplifter apprehensions make the most sense immediately for that particular case, but I don’t believe that low dollar cases should be ignored. My reasoning for this is you don’t know the impact that stopping that $5 case could have made on the store in the long run. That shoplifter could come back next time with more confidence and take $100 worth of merchandise, or they may have already stolen from you store in the past many times without you knowing about it. They also may tell several friends that they got away with stealing at your store, and the word will spread, inviting many more shoplifters to your store.
The best course of action to take is to consider both sides of the argument. It’s always good to catch the shoplifters that are stealing large amounts of merchandise, but don’t let that focus turn into ignorance of lower dollar thefts that could be a real problem in the long run if they are not addressed. In addition, you will want to develop a comprehensive retail theft prevention strategy that incorporates methods for deterring theft by the use of anti-shoplifting devices to reduce the overall amount of shoplifting incidents and also increase customer service to anyone that is in your store.
For more information contact us: retail theft prevention or call 1.770.426.0547