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One might suspect that the main threat to brick-and-mortar businesses would be the rise of e-commerce and its more convenient extension, m-commerce. However, in-store fraud plays a large role in hampering business success and involves both internal and external threats of varying kinds. From embezzlement to altering company records, fraud can occur at any point and businesses should have an understanding of the risks in order to ensure assets are protected.
The responsibility to uncover vulnerabilities, investigate the causes, and ultimately prevent incidents requires a lot of work and could be a complex process for employees. Technology such as radio frequency identification (RFID) is one of the most recognizable and just one of many tools that offer to assist retailers in inventory management, but what about the rest?
We decided to reach out to 5 experts in the field, with various perspectives, and asked them one question: In what way do you feel technology is helping loss prevention in the retail sector? Here’s what they had to say:
“In most cases, loss prevention is the business function of protecting people and profits, supporting the remaining functions of the company that are focused on growth. Specifically, in retail, it’s critical to perform these functions on the store floor, where the customer experience is paramount to the business. Yet the “floor” is extremely diverse in the retail industry, and the nooks and crannies that harbor crime and safety concerns are ever-evolving.
Technology advances have allowed companies to more precisely target detractors of their business while continuing to minimize the disruption to the shopping experience of their customer profile (and in some cases, actually improving it). Both hardware (shopper profile video recognition, product smart tagging from factory) and software (POS fraud detection, Incident and Risk Management) innovations provide solutions to such problem areas as an organized retail crime (ORC) recognition, policy adherence, product loss and fraud deterrence. Whether the focus is on inventory recovery, customer safety or employee empowerment, technology is helping businesses to find gaps in process faster and enable the business to react quicker to drains on their profits and risks to their customers and employees.”
“Technology is aiding retail loss prevention in any number of ways, from 360° HD network cameras providing unprecedented situational awareness to RFID for theft prevention and improved inventory accuracy, to cloud-based cash management systems providing novel insight into store operations—and, of course, there is the power of today’s analytics. But in addition to value from specific applications, technology has been a game-changer in a foundational way, capable of moving loss prevention departments from a defensive security posture to one where they are on offense. LP teams can now do more than look for technology to fulfill loss prevention strategy—the capabilities of today’s systems are so powerful that they can help formulate it.”
“Loss prevention professionals have led the way inside the retail enterprise in implementing technology to not only minimize loss, but increase revenues, manage operations, conducting store audits, and much more. From remote monitoring camera systems to exception reporting point-of-sale technology, all were first sourced by loss prevention to manage internal and external theft. Through their forward-looking eyes, LP executives convinced their internal peers to use the technologies in ways that far exceed the systems’ initial purpose.
Today, the innovative use of integrated technologies allows the entire retail team to do more with less as organizations are trimmed for cost savings as well as finding new ways to make use of data. Today big data applications with more user-friendly dashboards give retailers actionable information for field and corporate staff to execute meaningful interventions, be it investigations that uncover fraud or training issues that increase compliance in the stores. From once a cops-and-robbers, catch-the-bad-guy mentally, technology has helped loss prevention evolve to a modern, data-driven profession that truly contributes at the highest level of retail organizations.”
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Founder of RetailMinded.com & Co-Founder of the Independent Retailer Conference; Author of “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing & Marketing Your Business” from McGraw-Hill.
“Retail isn’t what it used to be – and as a result, loss prevention can no longer be managed as it used to be. With technology, merchants can better identify when theft may have happened, but more importantly, it can be used to help avoid loss prevention altogether. From in-store to online, technology is an asset that retailers should lean on to help combat loss prevention.”
Steven M. Degener, J.D., Owner
Loss Prevention Academy
“Technology for retail loss prevention has impacted and changed how training is delivered to a new or existing employee. In years past, VCR tapes and classroom training was the standard. Often, trainees were required to travel to obtain training, leaving their markets unattended for days.
The internet has introduced online training for the Loss Prevention Professional. Quality, online courses allow the trainee to obtain the material based on her/his schedule, not the schedule of the instructor. It delivers a consistent message and can be reviewed many times for concepts missed or where the trainee needs some additional time on a subject. Costs are reduced when you eliminate travel. Online training is the new blackboard for training.”
It’s safe to say that technology is a vital component for loss prevention and ultimately for profit control. Retailers will continue to face numerous threats and it’s important that they are doing what they can to address these issues, starting with the proper software.