4 Steps Retailers Can Take to Reduce Organized Retail Crime
Organized retail crime (ORC) is rising as store employees face more aggressive and violent perpetrators than ever before.
The National Retail Federation reports that the average shrink rate increased to 1.6 percent in 2022, representing $112.1 billion in losses, nearly $20 billion more than in 2021. Even more troubling, nearly half of retailers say that shoplifters are “much more” violent compared to just one year ago.
To address this issue effectively while keeping employees safe, retailers need to assess which tactics they currently have in place and where they have gaps, from the parking lot to inside the store. However, these measures must not sacrifice the customer experience.
Let’s explore a few tested strategies to help prevent ORC.
Proven Ways to Reduce In-Store Crime
- Implement alert and monitoring technology in the parking lot. Asset protection managers should first focus on the parking lot, which is one of the only areas where high-impact, low-friction solutions do not impede the customer experience. Mobile surveillance units, for example, can record the area and implement flashing lights and announcements that create an overt presence in the parking lot. Recording your parking lot is also essential for gathering facts about an incident to help authorities catch a perpetrator.
- Adopt and maintain a case management system. When an incident occurs, it’s crucial to collect data on bad actors to understand when and how they steal products from the store. Use a case management system to record details, including the time of the incident, type of product that was stolen, and any available details on the perpetrator. This data empowers you to make informed decisions about resource allocation and what kind of technology you should implement to get ahead of future crime.
- Establish collaborative partnerships with local law enforcement. Collaboration across the public and private sector is important for catching perpetrators after an ORC incident. By implementing parking lot security measures and a robust case management system, retailers can become strategic partners with the police and allow them to maximize their resources by responding to the most important incidents. The data gained by monitoring solutions also helps identify trends and patterns so store personnel and the police can know when activity is likely going to happen — and stop it effectively.
- Keep stores well staffed. Retailers often reduce their headcount when trying to drive down costs, especially given the appeal of self-checkout solutions. However, many businesses have swung too far with staff reductions, which makes a store an easy target for bad actors. By keeping a store staffed with employees trained in customer service, shoplifters are less likely to target the location. Lowe’s, for example, attributes its low 1 percent shrink rate to the fact that it invests in people to help serve customers on the sales floor.
Implementing a combination of these approaches can drive noticeable results. According to findings from the ACCESS Taskforce, a collaborative initiative between the Loss Prevention Research Council and LiveView Technologies, businesses in Opelika, Alabama, decreased shoplifting by 40 percent and property crime by 20 percent after implementing video surveillance technology and more closely partnering with local authorities. Businesses in Paducah, Kentucky, were able to decrease burglary and breaking and entering by 54 percent, and trespassing by 45 percent.
Get Ahead of ORC
The goal with all measures is to optimize return on investment so that you can increase your control and respond quickly after an incident without wasting resources. To calculate whether your efforts are paying off and to identify areas you can fortify, benchmark your current shrink and store theft information to track changes.
ORC is a pervasive problem, but with predictive analytics, strong partnerships, and an industry-wide collaborative approach, we can stem the tide.
Matt Kelley, Head of Retail, LiveView Technologies
Matt joined LVT in 2022. Prior to joining LVT he was the Sr. Manager Asset Protection Resources, Innovation and Technology at The Home Depot. In that role he was responsible for physical security and asset protection technology for all US retail stores, as well as security guards, cash logistics, burglar alarms, CCTV strategy/deployment, and introducing new technologies.
He is also involved in the Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) where he served on the Advisory Board along with leading working group research projects representing The Home Depot. Matt holds a business administration degree from Georgia Southern University and a MBA from Georgia State University.