Evaluate Your Shoplifting Policy Strategies
Evaluate Your Shoplifting Policy Strategies: Retail Store /
Business, Evaluation Criteria, Type of Store / Merchandise, Location,
Customer Service, Sight Lines
After reviewing both
‘extreme’ alternatives in "Shoplifting:
Dealing with a Major Problem", hopefully you are now better able to understand
why, as stated earlier there is no single best way of responding to the
issue of shoplifting.
Now we will examine the factors that should be
evaluated when attempting to find the optimal approach to fighting
shoplifting in a retail store environment. It is essential to identify
the type of retail business being evaluated and consider specific
characteristics to determine the most effective strategy to employ.
Shoplifting Policy Evaluation Criteria
Some businesses are much
more likely to be targeted by shoplifters than others. It is important
to have an understanding of your store or business from that
perspective. The type of products sold is a primary factor in
their likelihood of being shoplifted.
Merchandise that is universally needed,
desired or used is often stolen so it can be resold on the ‘street’. Today, the ‘street’ also includes the internet. Large quantities of all
varieties of stolen merchandise are sold on e-bay and other on-line
Some businesses, such as a bakery selling pastries, pies
and wedding cakes are a very rare shoplifting target due to the
nature of the products offered.
Furniture stores and appliance stores are also
difficult targets due to the size of the majority of the products.
(These businesses have more severe challenges from an internal theft and
A hardware store, drug store, or clothing store on
the other hand, are more susceptible as they will attract different types of customers and offer
products much more conducive to concealment, theft and potential
resale. These retailers realize that to effectively market their
products they must be displayed and available for customers to pick up,
handle, examine and hopefully purchase.
Other retail stores have most,
if not all their products enclosed in cases, such as a jewelry store, or
behind a counter like a NAPA automotive parts supplier. The opportunity
for a would-be shoplifter is greatly reduced in these environments.
‘Big Box’ retailers,
such as home improvement centers and membership discount stores,
typically provide much less one-on-one personal customer service than
smaller, more intimate sales-person oriented stores.
The degree to
which your store meets, greets and stays with customers, and the number
of sales people assigned to the floor greatly impacts a potential
shoplifter’s ability to commit an act of theft. As will be discussed
later, shoplifters do not like good customer service techniques and are
deterred to a degree by even receiving a simple greeting upon entering a
A national chain of video rental stores trains its employees to
greet every customer that enters with a simple ‘Welcome to our store’
greeting primarily because studies have shown this reduces the incidence
of shoplifting. Stores with more sales people on the floor
deter shoplifting in addition to providing better and quicker
The physical layout of
the store plays a significant role in a shoplifter’s evaluation of their
risks and opportunities. A store with good sightlines for employees is
a deterrent to shoplifting. Sightlines are affected by the placement,
size and height of fixtures, shelves, display cases, signage, case-good
build-outs and P.O.S. (Point of Sale) terminals or cash registers.
Customer traffic control devices such as turnstiles, rails, ropes
and stanchions also affect the shoplifter’s environment. Other important physical factors
to consider include ease of access and egress, proximity of exterior
doors to the sales floor, restroom accessibility and store interior
The neighborhood or locale where the store is located has a great
impact on shoplifting issues. High crime rates, high population density and high customer
traffic typically present more challenges to a store owner than more
remote, slower-paced environments for obvious reasons. A store with a
history of high shoplifting losses will typically need to invest more
assets in deterring or apprehending shoplifters than a location with few
documented losses or no known history.
As stated earlier, the
statutes and law enforcement response to shoplifting are varied
throughout the country. The issue of shoplifting loss has
received more attention and focus in some commercial-friendly locales, and specific laws have been put in
place to assist the retail store owners and managers fight the problem.
Conversely, some cities are either not equipped to devote law
enforcement resources to the issue or have simply not deemed shoplifting
a priority. A pro-business climate regarding this issue is certainly an
asset to any owner and should be considered when determining where to
locate a new retail venture.
After evaluating the factors described above it will be necessary to
design and implement your policy. You can read more about
how to do it successfully at
Appropriate Shoplifting Policy.
Deterring The Shoplifter
Stores that take pro-active measures
to deter shoplifting and also have policies, personnel and/or equipment
in place to assist in apprehending shoplifters will be avoided by the
professionals and make casual, spontaneous shoplifters seriously
reconsider their impulses.
Shoplifting will never be completely
eliminated, but it can be deterred and decreased with appropriate effort
and professional loss prevention know-how. For information about
bringing this know-how to your company, call 317-363-8312, send email to
info@SummitLossPrevention.com. or submit the short form below: