How to Prevent Shoplifting in Your Retail Store

By Viraj Nikam

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Prevent it from happening

The best way to “deal” with shoplifting is to stop it from taking place. Here are tips to help you do just that:

Have the right security tools

Set up the necessary tools to deter shoplifters. Ideally, you should have video cameras installed in your store so you can get illegal activities on tape. Some video solutions even integrate with your POS to deliver extra insights for loss prevention.

If cameras aren’t in your budget, know that there are low-cost tools that can prevent shoplifting. Signage is a popular choice among merchants. Anti-theft signs by your entrance/exit or even by your dressing rooms can serve as a deterrent for would-be shoplifters.

You could also install mirrors in strategic places to eliminate blind spots and track what’s going in every corner of your shop.

Provide “in-your-face” customer service

Tools are great, but they can only take you so far. To minimize shoplifting incidents, instruct your staff to greet and engage with every customer who walks through your doors.

Aside from demonstrating excellent customer service, this tactic can also deter shoplifters. Often, when wrongdoers are aware that they’re being watched, they’ll be less likely to act.

This is the main strategy of Jay Gurewitsch, owner at ArcadiaNYC for minimizing shoplifting opportunities. “I minimize the opportunities by keeping sightlines clear and obvious so that customers know we can see them at all times,” he wrote on Quora.

“And far more important, we engage EVERY customer as they come in the store; my rule is they must be greeted with a smile, a hello, and an invitation to help or answer any questions they may have within 10 seconds of walking in the door. NO exceptions. If they are a cell phone, we still do it, in the hopes they get off the phone to respond to us.”

Additionally, the staff at ArcadiaNYC go even further by continuing to interact with shoppers as they browse the store.

If they are looking at something, we may tell them something unique about that product in passing as we go to help someone else or restock a shelf. Ideally, we keep such pitches to one sentence, e.g., ‘that vase is handmade in Massachusetts’,” Gurewitsch continued.

It allows the customer to ask any questions they have, and from the loss prevention perspective, it tells them we know they have it in their hands. If that vase is not back on the shelf when the customer moves on, we know they have it, and more importantly, they know we know they have it.

Recognize the signs

Educate your staff on how to spot potential shoplifters. Signs of suspicious behaviour include:

  • Avoids eye contact
  • Looks at the staff instead of the products
  • Goes in and out of the store repeatedly without completing a sale
  • Wears bulky clothing (i.e. jackets or coats) when unnecessary
  • Enters with a large group

Tidy up

A disorganized store makes it easy for shoplifters to steal while making it harder for you to spot if anything’s missing. This is why as basic as it sounds, you need to keep your shop tidy at all times.

Set up products or fixtures in such a way that you can quickly check if anything is missing. If possible, keep products visible at all times.