Protecting Your Business: Effective Strategies to Prevent Shoplifting
Shoplifting continues to be a growing concern for businesses all across the globe. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), shoplifting incidents increased by a staggering 21 percent in the 12 months leading up to March 2022. Today, we’ll explore some of the key reasons why shoplifting frequency is on the rise, as well as exploring some of the ways that retailers can better protect themselves.
Why is Shoplifting on the Rise?
There are a number of economic factors at play, all of which contribute towards the increase in shoplifting. First, the rising cost of living. Increased costs for raw materials and goods has pushed up prices for consumers. Inflation is also another huge contributor. Inflation has been a persistent challenge for global shoppers, contributing to an increased cost of living. With many households stretched to their limit, shoplifting has become a source of basic necessities or even income.
In addition to this, new forms of shoplifting are emerging. Self-checkout and scan-and-go thefts have gained considerable traction. Surveys conducted on the matter revealed a variety of motivations behind the theft. A significant majority, accounting for 69 percent of respondents, confessed to shoplifting due to the ongoing cost of living crisis. Another notable reason, cited by 43 percent of those surveyed, was the frustration caused by barcodes that wouldn't scan properly. A further 31 percent admitted that they unintentionally forgot to scan certain items, while 9 percent claimed that forgetting their payment method drove them to engage in shoplifting. Surprisingly, 7 percent of respondents confessed that the thrill and excitement associated with stealing were the primary motivators behind their actions.
How Can Retailers Protect Their Businesses From Shoplifting?
The Barcode Warehouse is a specialist technology provider that recognizes the significant impact of shoplifting on businesses and is aiming to raise awareness among retailers. In an effort to combat shoplifting, we have these tips for business owners:
1. If you’re not using CCTV, now is the time to invest.
Considering the urgency of the issue, it's crucial for businesses to consider both short- and long-term measures to protect themselves against shoplifting. Security-based solutions like closed-circuit television (CCTV) should be a given in the retail environment, big or small. If you haven’t invested in CCTV already, now is certainly the time to do so.
2. Introduce a stock management solution.
One incredibly effective strategy for reducing and preventing theft is to implement a stock management system that utilizes radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Stock management solutions and RFID are extremely relevant in the prevention of theft. When it comes to technology investment, we always look at the immediate and long-term value it will give; technology investment should rarely be seen as a short-term fix. It wouldn’t be doing its job if it were.
The Barcode Warehouse offers up an example of how RFID has been used in retail: We developed a unique barcode or number for each individual garment, even if they were identical in make and size. By doing so, the business can easily track whether an item has been scanned at checkout and sold. This system enables the identification of stolen items or prevents shoplifters from attempting to return goods without a receipt. Such solutions can be readily adopted on both small and large scales with the appropriate technology, devices and printing solutions.
3. Check your scanners and settings.
When it comes to self-checkout theft, one of the key factors contributing to this issue is barcodes not scanning correctly. While retailers may have limited control over barcode placement and print quality at the store level, collaborating with manufacturing and warehousing facilities can lead to significant improvements. Taking a proactive approach and engaging in discussions with suppliers about enhancing barcode readability through measures like improved color contrast, sharpness, and optimal placement can effectively minimize losses experienced on the store floor.
Furthermore, you should be regularly reviewing and adjusting the programming settings of your scanners. In some cases, the inability of barcodes to scan may be due to the number of acceptable digits in the data field. Ensuring your scanners are programmed accordingly can help prevent scanning issues.
Finally, review the location of your scanners. Factors such as orientation, angle and focal distance are all crucial for successful barcode scanning. Choosing a reader with autofocus capabilities or considering a transition from traditional scanners to imagers, which use cameras to capture images for reading rather than relying solely on reflective laser signals, can be effective solutions. These alternatives substantially reduce interference and greatly minimize the occurrence of scanner failures.
By addressing these aspects and working towards optimizing barcode scanning, retailers can significantly mitigate self-checkout theft and enhance the overall efficiency of their operations.
Shoplifting incidents have been on the rise globally thanks to economic factors such as the cost of living crisis and inflation. In summary, the key takeaways from this article include:
- Self-checkout and scan-and-go thefts have gained traction, leading to significant losses for retailers.
- Motivations behind shoplifting include the cost of living crisis, frustrations with faulty barcode scans, unintentional omissions, forgetting payment methods, and the thrill of stealing.
- Frequently stolen items include essential goods, high-value items, clothing, and personal care products.
- Retailers can protect their businesses by investing in CCTV, implementing stock management solutions with RFID technology, and reviewing scanner settings and placement.
Liam Reid is the director of technology and innovation at technology solutions integrator The Barcode Warehouse.
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Liam Reid is the director of technology and innovation at technology solutions integrator The Barcode Warehouse. Liam has over 20 years’ experience working in the mobile technology industry supporting large enterprises on their digitalisation journeys. His passion is now bringing technology-based solutions to end users across the retail, hospitality, healthcare, warehousing, transport and logistics, manufacturing and field service industries. Bringing together technology, software and support life services to solve customer problems and help them achieve their business objectives. To achieve this goal, Liam has recently designed and implemented The Barcode Warehouse's vision to create an industry-leading Innovation and Customer Experience Centre, where end users can test the latest technology and build business solutions in a single space.