Sticky fingers can mean trouble for small businesses. More than $13 billion worth of goods are shoplifted from retailers each year — or $35 million a day, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention.
The Food Marketing Institute, a group made up of food and pharmaceutical retailers, wholesalers, and regional and independent supermarkets around the globe, commissioned a report last year that found that companies caught an average of 380 shoplifters, each of whom lifted $40 of merchandise per incident. The most popular items to steal? Health and beauty products, most likely because of their high resale value. That tube of lipstick never looked so good.
So what can be done to discourage shoplifting from your business? Here are a few strategies recommended by law enforcement and other resource groups:
1) Train your employees – Review your shoplifting policies with them regularly. Teach them to be attentive with customers, such as smiling and asking customers how they can help — this lets customers and potential shoplifters know that they are being watched. Familiarize your employees with common shoplifting strategies, such as carrying unusually large bags, staging a distracting commotion or wearing strange or inappropriate clothing, such as a raincoat when it’s not raining.
2) Take preventative steps — This can include installing closed circuit television and hanging up signs warning against shoplifters. Put up mirrors to help your employees see blind spots and other tough corners. If you have fitting rooms, keep the doors locked when not in use. Most shoplifting isn’t premeditated: About three quarters of adults and juveniles say they didn’t plan to shoplift in advance.
3) Be strategic about how you display your goods — Keep your merchandise organized so it’s easy to see if something is missing. Keep small and expensive items locked or out of reach. Keep pricier items toward the back of the store and away from the exit.
4) Get involved with your community — Support your community’s anti-shoplifting campaigns and prevention programs in schools. It’s best, of course, to teach people not to shoplift in the first place. Send the message to your customers and community that you take a strong stand against shoplifting.