Loss Prevention – Defining the Problem and Implementing Solutions

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Today we dive into loss prevention. And we do have a definition this time! Loss Prevention is the concept of establishing policies, procedures and business practice to prevent the loss of inventory or monies in a retail environment. Well, that is actually pretty straightforward and logical. (Phew.) What may not be, are the underlying causes of retail loss and the best ways for your business to tackle these troubles. This is a leading component of our business, and for good reason. With a large shift towards data loss prevention solutions over the last decade, loss prevention dynamics have endured significant changes. It is unquestionable that no matter the transformations, one thing remains consistent- people still want the 5 finger discount. But did you know that even by implementing a retractable belt in your queuing area - it not only facilitates crowd control but can eliminate losses? Well it can.

Fighting all Forms of Preventable Loss

The truth of the matter is loss prevention goes way beyond deception or theft. There are so many additional factors that affect your customers’ overall brand experience that lead to potential losses. Long wait times, poor customer service, incorrect product placement both inside and outside of the store, inefficient customer flow, even mismanaged parking lots- all are examples of probable lost sales.

Loss prevention is a widely used term that covers many aspects- but let’s focus on one of the benchmarks for retail business operations, customer flow. Many customers will abandon carts full of merchandise if forced to wait in a long line (you know you have). The most difficult part of the sale is getting your customers TO your store. Don’t blow it once they get there. You have to do everything you can to complete the sale, increase your units per transaction and the up the average dollar amount being spent. In order to achieve these goals, it all comes back to the customer’s experience. So let’s face it - no flow, no go. If you aren’t moving your crowd quickly and efficiently you may as well be throwing cash out the window.

OnTarget Industries highly trained staff has been called to the rescue by some of the leading retailers in North America and tasked with leading conferences and meetings at their offices to combat these operational issues. OTI simplifies the process of creating a sensible customer flow by implementing the proper crowd management tools. We know that no two stores are alike, so no two line systems should be either. A retractable belt system with sign toppers may be the perfect fit for one customer while an electronic queue management system may be more appropriate for another. Whatever, the case we implement the best approach for your retail environment.

Quips with Queuing Areas

Here is a well documented picture of a poorly created queuing area that a typical Loss Prevention Manager should reevaluate.

This store has three lines and three cashiers and a whole mess of problems. For starters, there isn’t any signage at eye level directing patrons to the check-out area. There is overhead signage hanging from the ceiling, but this isn’t an efficient way to handle this crowd. If portable stanchions (as seen below) were used and relocated, the overhead signage would be irrelevant creating confusion for customers. Sign toppers would be a more proficient way to communicate with patrons who are waiting to check out.

The ability of a patron to potentially pick-pocket in this given situation increases dramatically without the structured ingress/egress flow of the queuing area. The lack of a proper retractable belt system or electronic queuing system allows for the customer to quickly step out of line and disappear back into the shopping area. They could even completely exit the building without notice (costing you money whether they steal or leave without completing the purchase).

In this arrangement there are several areas for potential loss of sales. As the line near the top of the image has items that allure customers to spend on impulse purchases, the other two lines have nothing. If a serpentine line is created with a retractable belt, you have the ability to manage your customer flow from one station, or thirty stations. See image below:

The proper placement of impulse buys in the check-out area has a huge impact on your store’s customer service experience, your loss prevention and has the power to boost sales. Those readily-available last minute purchase items allows store staff members to be cognizant of customers actions in the queuing area, regulates the flow of customers and puts extra dollars in your cash register. By implementing these simple steps you are creating a profit source by allowing your queuing equipment to carry and promote merchandise in the line. An incredible idea with minimal effort and maximum rewards.

Though a relatively new technology, this type of in line marketing has been very effective in a variety of retail businesses including convenience stores, food markets, big box retail stores, even temporary concession areas where they need to set-up a queuing line and product placement requirements. Our portfolio of products can fit any budget, and can equip stores for rapid roll-out. Whether you have one store or 10,000 stores OTI can handle any size project successfully from beginning to end.

Customer Experiences Extend Beyond the Doors

You probably thing you’re in the clear once you’ve made the sale and the cash register prints the receipt, but the customer’s experience is far from over. Customer flow extends to the parking lot. By implementing the appropriate safety signs and traffic equipment you are ensuring that customers know how to effectively navigate through your lot. How many times have you had a bad experience in a store parking lot? Those memories (unfortunately) stick with you and affect how you perceive the store.

Now that we’ve filled your head with all of the factors that contribute to loss prevention – it’s probably a good time to reevaluate your current practices and make some changes. A few simple changes with signage, retractable belts and traffic signs can go a long way. Loss prevention is a huge undertaking and goes beyond items taken off the shelf. Luckily, we’re here to help you. 

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