Theft, waste or negligence. According to industry thought leaders Tim Trafford and Ian Watts, most retail loss stems from one of these reasons.
Those three reasons aren’t going away any time soon—and the larger your organization gets, the more you’ll have to grapple with them.
But no matter your organization size, loss is an immediate problem. External theft, internal theft, and administrative errors—estimated by the National Retail Federation to be the biggest three causes of loss—are real problems. And dealing with them requires a real solution.
What does that solution look like? Increasingly retailers are turning to software to help make their loss prevention function more effective.
Identify theft, fraud, and shrinkage trends. Resolve compliance issues early. Improve operational deficiencies. Provide easy answers to queries by senior management or others. If you are reading this guide, it’s likely that you’ve already recognized that you can easily do all of this and more with software.
What’s more, retail loss prevention software can help bolster profits, boost productivity and increase customer satisfaction. And all for relatively little spend, and with high ROI—two factors that are more and more important as loss prevention budgets continue to shrink. (No pun intended.)
If you’re considering RLP software to help you do more with less, this guide will help.
Good loss prevention software can help you track incidents, work more efficiently, mitigate risk, report on measures and metrics, and more.
Here’s what you should be looking for in an RLP software suite.
Loss incidents come in many flavors. Shoplifting. Robberies or break-ins. Internal theft. Fraud. Property damage.
But if it’s your job to figure out what happened and why, how do you keep track of everything?
Software can help manage the often overwhelming flow of incident and accident reports, with features like user-generated incidents, automated workflows, easy assignment of follow-up activities and more.
Data without insight is just noise. But obtaining that insight to take a bite out of loss can be even harder than it seems.
Consider shrinkage. Yes, you could build a team with representation from all loss-affected areas to analyze your incident reports, develop hypotheses about where shrink is coming from, then leverage those hypotheses to create a strategy.
Or you could turn to software, where relationships between one incident and other seemingly unrelated ones are identified on the fly, helping you quickly and easily see trends you can then address.
With the right software, you can intelligently action and query your security data for trending, risk mitigation, and performance metrics, and you can use your knowledge about what’s happening—and where—to ensure that personnel, systems, and resources are best allocated to stop loss before it happens.
Retailers are often good at managing “traditional” risks to property or people. Recovering from a weather event, for example, poses no challenge; likewise, there are rules and regulations about keeping employees safe or getting them back to work after an incident.
Often, however, less is done around shrinkage, fraud and organized crime.
Software can help you identify, assess and manage these kinds of risks; link them to objectives; establish your organization’s tolerance for risk; and then report on risks across the enterprise. In other words, it can give you a window into risk you can’t easily get in other ways.
Effective policies. Strong internal controls. A robust culture of self-assessments and audits. All of these are important to retail success.
The good news is the right software can make each of those functions easier. With software you can:
Analysis and reporting can be a tedious chore if you’re relying on spreadsheets or, worse, hand- written notes.
Software, on the other hand, can offer up-to- the-minute data, in-depth analytics, and custom reports. Some suites allow you to graph data, display records in a map, or visualize your information in other ways to help you focus on specific areas, spot trends, and report up to whoever needs to know.
A quick look at the software landscape will reveal several options that seem suitable. But are they really?
If you’re making a software choice, evaluate these factors first.
Do you want to install software on your own infrastructure, or have a solution provider host the software for you in exchange for a monthly or yearly license? Consider whether you’ll be able to deploy and host the software yourself, or get the support your need from IT to keep your system updated. You’ll also want to think about whether your own internal (often legacay) systems can support the functionality you need.
That said, regulations may require that you keep data in-house. Network concerns around bandwidth or the speed at which you need to access that data may also lead you to favor an on-premise solution. And when it comes to data storage, you may prefer to handle the risks yourself, rather than trusting a provider to keep everything safe. (See more below under “Security.”)
Can you adapt the software to match your company’s processes, or tweak it for the specific needs of your role, your department, your stores, or your industry? Pay special attention to features like forms, dashboards, reporting and analytics. Can the software you’re evaluating give you what you’re after?
Look for software that lets you consolidate related incident and investigation data into case records to make analysis and reporting easier. You’ll want to be able to review incident, investigation and loss data at a glance and quickly generate full case reports.
How well can you connect your prospective software to systems like POS exception reporting, inventory, CCTV, and return fraud software? Proper integration will let you receive events from electronic security systems, route data for real-time response, eliminate duplication of effort and more.
It shouldn’t take a breach of confidential information to make you realize that data security is an important consideration. Look for software that lets you segregate and consolidate your data, providing different access levels to different staff members or departments. An open API will also go a long
way toward integrating your new software with your other Security Information Management initiatives, so consider making that a must-have.
With a hosted solution, you’ll be able to leverage your provider’s resources, staff, infrastructure and assets at a fraction of the cost of building the same capacity within your company. If you have a limited capital budget, a pay-by- subscription hosted solution could be a good way to incorporate incident management expenditures into your operating expenses.
Don’t forget, however—a move to a cloud-based solution will incur bandwidth costs you may not be anticipating. When your servers are inside your own walls, you’re only limited by your own pipes. The same can’t be said for the cloud.
Any RLP software you’re considering needs to be scalable. In other words, you’ll need something robust enough to grow with you as you come to need more users, more data, and faster response times. And watch out—scalability isn’t just about being able to use the software as you add stores, for example, but being able to use it efficiently. Imagine what your business would look like if it were two, five or even 10 times larger, then ask your provider about system availability, hardware and software concerns, storage and data retention issues, disaster recovery, security and the like. Considering scalability now can save you from performing a costly “rip and replace” further down the road.
It’s easy to get caught up in features and forget about whether or not you’ll actually be able to use a piece of software. Yes, business and functional requirements are important. Yes, total cost of ownership is a factor—as is every other consideration in this section. But since a difficult-to-use system will, naturally, discourage your staff from using it, you’ll need to think long and hard about whether you’ll be able to realize the benefits you’re envisioning.
Procuring software doesn’t have to be a torture, but no-one said it was a walk in the park, either.
On paper, the process seems simple: evaluate the criteria that are important to your business, check vendors and their offerings against those criteria, select your software of choice, and then work to bring the software into the organization.
But hidden in those steps are pitfalls to watch out for. Take care not to make these mistakes.
It can be tempting to try to solve all of the problems you’re experiencing today. But not planning for the future can lead you to make a mistake that will come back to haunt you— sometimes sooner than you might think.
Sure, you’re in Market X today… But what if your organization pivots and you find yourself in Market Y by the end of the decade? What if the pesky disruptor in that dusty corner of your SWOT analysis suddenly becomes a major competitor? (Who could have predicted, for example, that one day you’d be able to buy a hot dog steamer on Amazon?)
Make sure to choose software that looks like it has legs—the more you can “expect the unexpected,” the better prepared you’ll be to face future challenges you didn’t anticipate.
Are you about to buy that software suite because it truly serves the needs of your stores and your staff? Or because you see everyone else in the industry using it?
When leveraged properly, technology can be a competitive advantage. Don’t give yours away by “doing what everyone else is doing” unless it truly makes sense for your organization.
Business today changes rapidly—and some would argue that retail business evolves even more quickly. So the idea that a “build it once, use it forever” in-house solution can keep up is outmoded at best, and dangerous at worst.
Retail loss prevention software is no different from any other kind, in that an agile, hosted solution— with continuous additions, updates and upgrades— will likely be better poised to serve your needs over both the short-term and long-term. Staying wedded to outdated software on archaic infrastructure might make sense to stakeholders or to the boardroom, but it’s not often a viable option in the cut-throat world of retail.
You know retail like the back of your hand. And you know you’re ready for software that will help you report loss, make smarter decisions, and increase your departments efficiency.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re “old hat” at running a software project. Here’s a high-level step-by-step to fill in the blanks.
Before you implement dedicated software for your organization, you need to make sure you’re ready for it.
Don’t assume you know what different areas of the business want from the software. “Get them in the room” to find out. Loss Prevention, Finance, Legal, IT… Each will have different wants and needs, and they’ll be looking to you to meet them. For your part, you’ll need to set expectations around project goals and what success will look like.
And remember, software is only as good as the foundation on which you build it. Before you bring in software, get as much of “your house” in order as you can.
If you’re reading this document, odds are you already know you want RLP software.
But simply knowing, obviously, is not enough. In order to convince your organization that they need it too, you’ll need to make a compelling argument. Only by calculating the ROI can you help your organization’s decision-makers fully understand the extent to which software can benefit your company.
When considering ROI, remember to look at the soft benefits. For example, consider duplication of effort. It’s not inconceivable for software to save hours of redundant work on each of dozens of processes. That could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars of staff time.
Nothing will help you more in implementation than gaining an understanding of your exact needs. That’s why taking an iterative approach makes sense. Consider starting with a pilot or “proof of concept” project to test the waters and find out—early—what’s working and what’s not. (This approach will also have the added benefit of helping you control the install, allowing you to focus only on a small group of users.)
One caution: if you’ve never brought enterprise software into an organization before, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the process can become overwhelming without proper planning. It helps to have a “typical” project team in place to work with your vendor: executive sponsor, steering committee, dedicated project managers, business leads, technical leads and more.
The size of your team will vary with the size of your organization, however. If you’re a small company, you should be fine as long as you have at least someone paying attention to project management.
Don’t forget to plan for showing the business how to use the new software—for example, to submit their own incident reports. You’ll also need to track ongoing user uptake, as well as test to make sure everything’s working as it should.
In other words, this is not a “set it and forget it” exercise—getting your software installed is only the beginning.
This guide only scratches the surface, of course—the intricacies of an RLP software installation project are much too deep to explore in just a few pages.
But if you’ve been leaning toward making the shift from outdated incident capture and toward modern retail loss prevention, there’s no time like the present. The benefits far outweigh any temporary challenges you might be fearing.
Resolver’s retail asset protection software enables retailers to report, manage, and analyze losses, risks, and liabilities that impact assets and safety in their stores, supply chains, and corporate offices.
Resolver is quick and easy to implement, configure, and learn. It simplifies reporting, information sharing, and decision making— improving your ability to increase your efficiency, impact your retailer’s bottom line, and justify your budget.
Here’s what you can do with Resolver’s retail asset protection application:
With Resolver, you’ll prevent more problems from happening, make smarter decisions, and more easily capitalize on opportunities you might have otherwise missed.
That means you’ll be able to better protect your people, property and information across the entire organization—and see lower loss and improved safety as a result.