Any time customers make monetary transactions on your website or at your store, their information is momentarily vulnerable, especially if you don’t have proper security measures in place. This applies to all retailers, but especially to those with multiple store locations.
You might think that the point-of-sale (POS) software or website plugin has adequate security, but that’s not always the case. Security is a much larger issue that needs to be approached from multiple angles for success.
Internet Security Features
Most retail stores, particularly franchises, are connected via the internet. This brings some particular security concerns, since ransomware, malware and hackers can leave your customer data vulnerable if you’re not careful. Just ask Target, which lost millions in the 2013 attack on its systems because it failed to properly encrypt its credit card scanners.
Taking proper online security steps is extremely important for protecting your networks. Here are some tips:
- Use a SD-WAN to securely connect enterprise networks over long distances. Pet Lovers did this with its franchises to protect them from massive ransomware outbreaks. The company added firewalls or unified threat management (UTM) appliances to each site to prevent attacks. Incorporating a SD-WAN connection can be the simplest and most effective solution to securing your network data.
- Store your data off-site so that in the event of a natural disaster, you don’t lose customer data. Cloud security has come a long way, and is often better than a traditional data center.
- Update your software regularly, both in-store and online. Any software system you use will release patches and updates that will correct security breaches and previous problems within the system. Download updates as soon as possible for best results.
- Encrypt your credit card swiper. This will come with any good POS software. It basically means that no credit card information is stored in your POS device, making it impossible for hackers to access credit card information via your POS.
In-Store Security Features
Product loss is a huge issue for retail stores, especially those at the franchise level. More than $13 billion worth of goods are stolen every year from retailers, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, which equates to about $35 million a day. Shoplifters are everywhere, and safety measures within a store can do wonders for preserving your profits. Here are a few tips help to protect your store from product theft:
- Install visible security cameras, which are actually more effective at stopping shoplifters than hidden ones. It’s true that if shoplifters can see the cameras, they can avoid them, but they work much better as deterrents, preventing the crime altogether.
- Create an action plan for employees so that they know the procedure for shoplifters. The same can be done to help your employees safely navigate an armed robbery. Employees can act as “human sensors” to detect danger and protect themselves and the business. Employee safety should come first, and boosting their education can keep them safe while limiting the loss on their watch.
- Verify employees before you hire them. Your employees can be your biggest advocate for store security or they can be your greatest downfall. In fact, employees are considered the biggest digital and physical security threat to an organization. A full background check may not be necessary on every store associate, but you shouldn’t hire just anybody. Qualified, honest employees will save you in every aspect of business.
- Secure your store after-hours as well. With a great surveillance, alarm and lock system in place, you can significantly reduce theft and increase your peace of mind while away from the store.
Physical and digital security isn't an option for retail stores, and the more updated your tactics, the better you’ll fare when facing a threat.
Anna Johansson is a freelance writer with a special passion for entrepreneurial and marketing-related topics.
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