Video Surveillance & Physical Security Industry Viewpoints
October 31st, 2018
Author: Lizzi Goldmeier

Loss Prevention Strategies Ahead of Black Friday

Black Friday isn’t just the single busiest shopping day of the year, but it’s the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season. Yes, the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza has historically been characterized by deeply discounted products and large crowds looking to save money over extended store hours. In 2017, Black Friday accounted for nearly $8 billion in total sales – and the 2017 holiday shopping season overall accounted for nearly $692 billion.

Noting the popularity of Black Friday, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that it’s also a popular day for retail theft. In fact, because of the large crowds and overall consumer congestion, items are 40 percent more likely to be shoplifted on Black Friday than any other day of the year. Considering that retail losses account for nearly $50 billion total each year and Black Friday is on the way, now’s the time to bring your loss prevention strategies up to speed.

Here’s a look at some tips and tactics for minimizing theft in your store this holiday shopping season:

  • Put up anti-theft signs: It may seem obvious, but merely placing anti-theft signs strategically throughout a store is a simple, affordable way to deter theft. A mere sign stating “Shoplifters will be prosecuted” can issue a warning to would-be thieves of the seriousness of the crime and your intentions if or when you catch shoplifters.
  • Keep the store organized: It’s one thing to notice that something went missing during inventory checks– it’s another thing to see whether something is missing right away. When it comes to apprehending a suspect, noting a missing item sooner rather than later is critical. By making sure the store is well organized and all products are “faced,” retailers can keep better tabs on inventory and notice when things go missing. A messy, disorganized store is only going to make it more difficult to quickly identify missing items.
  • Implement staff training: It’s important that all workers know how to properly identify and assess a retail theft situation. This largely begins with ensuring that enough associates are working at a given time and stationing staff uniformly throughout the store during busy periods. While the primary responsibility of any store associate is to assist customers, ensuring proper spacing and staffing can also help serve for deterring and detecting. Common shoplifting methods include people placing items into their clothes, bags, strollers or even umbrellas. Make sure all store employees know how to identify signs of suspicious behavior and have a plan in place for what to do if such activity is detected.
  • Extend your video surveillance: Often times, stores don’t realize they have unaccounted for merchandise until they’re checking inventory. Retailers can use a video surveillance system to monitor the store and attempt to detect or identity shoplifters after items go missing, but this can be tedious and ineffective. By enhancing traditional surveillance systems with AI-backed video analytics, retailers can focus on specific areas of the store, pinpoint people or objects of interest based on relevant search criteria and significantly narrow down the suspects in a post-theft investigation.
  • Smart shelves: “Invisible” product protection is now feasible in retail environments with RFID-enabled smart shelving surfaces. Smart shelving units work to keep track of any product tagged with an RFID label, informing associates of when areas need to be restocked and triggering an alert in the event that unusual activity is recorded. For instance, if a whole shelf of products are removed, the system will alert associates of a possible shoplifting incident.

With the holiday shopping season looming, it’s natural for retailers to be rethinking and reviewing their plans to maximize revenue during the retail high season. However, overlooking your loss prevention strategy can be particularly damaging. To ensure optimal holiday success, plan on both preventing crime and theft and optimizing your in-store strategies.