With the holiday shopping season in full swing, your retail organization is probably boosting head count, rolling out promotions, and looking for every opportunity to capitalize on increased foot traffic to its stores.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), U.S consumers will spend an average of $967 this holiday season. While online shopping will increase, a great deal of spending will still take place in brick and mortar stores.
Marketing will play a role in determining which retailers generate the most profits, but so will customer service and attention to physical security.
Retailers that know how to properly secure their merchandise and deliver a great customer experience can outperform the competition, because they’ll experience less shrink and create returning customers, generating profits well beyond the holiday season.
Those that fail to invest in these two areas are likely to lose more to shoplifting and organized retail crime, as well as the opportunity to grow their customer base.
With the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, and the rush to promote year-end deals, retailers must stay focused on both security and customer service if they want to make the most of the holiday season rush. Here’s some advice on how to do so:
Audit your security system
Make sure your video surveillance system is in good working order. If the lighting has recently changed in your stores, or the layout is different with new displays, it’s possible your security cameras may need adjustments. Make sure that merchandise is not blocking any camera views, and that your system can capture high-quality images of all your entrances and exits, point-of-sale (POS) systems, and high-value items.
I recommend using a video management system with a robust health monitoring feature that can tell you when your cameras have been moved or disconnected, or if your video recorder’s hard drive is failing. Without this type of monitoring, you risk not having video evidence in the event that shoplifters target your stores.
Properly vet seasonal staff and review your policies
You might be in a rush to hire seasonal staff, but take the time to check references and follow your organization’s screening process. The best thief is someone who knows your system – for example, where the lockbox keys are – so make sure you’re hiring trustworthy people.
The hiring stage is also a great time to go over your customer service expectations. Should all customers be greeted and told about the latest promotion? Is it customary to open another POS once the lineup exceeds three people? Make sure employees understand and are committed to your service standards.
Part-time or seasonal staff also may not be familiar with your organization’s security procedures, so review your policies with them. Employees should know how to spot the signs of potential shoplifting (customers that repeatedly leave and come back, won’t make eye contact, or are wearing baggy, oversized clothing) and what to do if they suspect someone is stealing.
Leverage the latest technology
You can’t be in all places at once, especially if you’re managing multiple stores, so take advantage of the latest security technology. Many video surveillance systems enable remote monitoring so you can view your video outside the office on your smartphone or tablet. This allows you to not only investigate suspicious incidents like shoplifting, but also to spot check your stores for cleanliness, adherence to health and safety standards, and any other issues that could impact your customer experience.
Exception-based video alerts can also be incredibly helpful in your holiday loss prevention efforts. Video systems that integrate POS transaction data and analytics – also known as intelligent video – can alert you to suspicious transactions, such as an unusual number of voids or returns, which could be a sign of internal theft. Intelligent video can also be integrated with other technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, so you can track inventory and reduce stock losses. If RFID-tagged products go missing from the stockroom or display floor, you can easily search by serial number or Electronic Product Code (EPC) for video showing the last location of the items.
Harness the power of analytics
Intelligent video also has benefits beyond security because it can analyze video for valuable customer information. When integrated with analytics, intelligent video can tell you how many customers are coming through the door, what your busiest time of day is, and how long customers waited in line for service. Gathering this information on its own can be a time-consuming task, but with the right software you can easily analyze this data, find trends and plan improvements that can positively impact your bottom line.
Share information with other retailers and law enforcement
Shoplifters often use the same tactics at multiple stores, so share information with the businesses around you and with law enforcement. Take video snapshots and provide detailed descriptions of the incident to police. Doing this quickly can sometimes prevent another crime from occurring.
Swiftly responding to suspicious incidents, staying focused on customer service, and investing in good security/data analytics technology can all help boost your bottom line this holiday season, and position your organization well for future growth, without the usual cost of new customer acquisitions.
To learn more about retail loss prevention measures or intelligent video surveillance systems, write your questions or comments below.