The holidays are just a few short weeks away and we know that you and your staff are working hard on sales, promotions, and other seasonal programs. Before rolling out your initiatives, ask yourself: are you working just as hard to minimize loss in your business?

While the holidays bring in more customers and sales, it’s also a busy time for thieves and fraudsters. People who are up to no good often take advantage of the hustle and bustle of the season to commit retail crime.

To help you prevent loss in your business, below are 4 pointers on beefing up store security this holiday season and beyond.

Ensure your team knows the importance of loss prevention

Your employees are your best line of defense against retail loss, so make sure they’re well-trained on how to implement security measures and policies at your stores. It’s important to conduct loss prevention training every time a new employee comes on board and it may also behoove you to offer refresher courses on security right before the holidays.

Educate your staff on the suspicious behavior they should watch out for and talk about what they should do if they suspect someone is up to no good. Be sure to walk them through your processes, and document your policies and procedures for easy reference.

Also note that instilling the importance of loss prevention doesn’t end with formal training. To really encourage your staff to stay on top of store security, you need to let them know that loss prevention is a business priority.

“Knowing shrink and loss prevention is a priority for management often makes it a priority for sales associates too,” says Ray Hartjen, Marketing Director at RetailNext. He recommends that in addition to formal training, retailers should make loss prevention a priority topic at the morning huddle, and continuously remind associates about the store’s policies, processes, and procedures.

Consider having a loss prevention poster in the backroom to help keep security top of mind. Walmart, for example, has a “Ways of Working” poster in every store, which outlines important steps and processes for loss prevention.

“It’s critical to communicate the priority of security efforts to store associates, keeping it front and center in their minds,” Hartjen continues. “Knowing store operations are under close scrutiny with regards to loss prevention is not only a deterrent to sweethearting and other sources of internal shrink, but it also heightens awareness related to shopper activity in the store.” – Ray Hartjen, Marketing Director at RetailNext.

Arm your store with the right loss prevention tools

Invest in tools to help you and your staff combat theft and fraud. The right tools will depend on your company, but know that whatever budget or type of store you have, there are several options for you. These include:

Signage – Setting up security signs can deter thieves and keep customers in check. Situate these signs near your store’s entrance to immediately warn people that you won’t tolerate theft in your store.

Don’t be afraid to “get tough” with your signage. As the City of Anderson Police Department notes, anti-theft signs must emphasize that you will prosecute.

“The best way to discourage shoplifters and keep your business from being tagged as an easy mark is to take a get-tough attitude and prosecute on the first offense.”  –  City of Anderson Police Department

Mirrors – Need an inexpensive solution for eliminating blind spots in your store? Consider installing mirrors in your locations. Walk around your store and identify low visibility areas. These could include places that are obscured by shelving or displays, as well as corners that can’t be seen from the register.

One-way glass – If you have offices near the sales floor, equip them with one-way glass so your staff members can see what’s going on in the store without being seen by shoppers.

Cameras – If you have room in your budget, consider installing cameras so you can monitor and record in-store activities. Hartjen adds that an added security measure is to integrate video surveillance with POS reporting so you can easily investigate high-risk transactions.

He also recommends conducting “video review[s] of security moments like the opening of the back door or accessing the cash drop.”

RFID –  RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), which can be embedded in product packages and tags, can be used to track items to prevent lost and misplaced merchandise. RFID chips can also work with security sensors, so your store staff will get alerts whenever someone attempts to take a product with the sensors still attached.

Tighten up security at the register

If you’re not careful, your store’s checkout area can be a hotbed for theft and fraud. Take the following steps and security measures to ensure you don’t lose money at the register.

Set up the right user permissions – Set up the right user permissions in your POS. Specify the roles or people that can perform tasks such as processing refunds, voiding sales and accepting returns.

For instance, you could set up permissions to only allow managers to void sales or process refunds. Doing so makes it easier to track who’s doing what in your store, and, if anything suspicious comes up, you can easily investigate the matter.

Make sure your payment processing solution is compliant and up-to-date – See to it that you’re using payment processing solutions that are up-to-date with the necessary security compliances. If you’re not sure if your equipment is up to snuff, get in touch with your payment processor to check if there’s anything you should do to say compliant.

Wise up on how to spot counterfeit bills – Alex Reichmann, CEO of iTestCash, advises retailers to learn the difference between real and counterfeit bills.

“There are also machines that can check multiple features on bills to see if they are fake including Ultraviolet, Magnetic and bill density detection.” – Alex Reichmann, CEO of iTestCash

Perform regular loss prevention audits

Create a checklist of your loss prevention policies and procedures then have a manager or even a third party visit your stores to evaluate how security is implemented in each location. The specific items on your checklist will depend on your stores, but here are some general items to keep an eye on:

Physical security – See to it that keys, cash, and important documents are properly stored and secured. Where are they kept? Who has access to these things? Take note and ensure that they aren’t easily accessible.

Also pay attention to where the cash register and card terminals are located in the store. Are terminals and screens positioned for maximum privacy? Are there any measures in place to prevent tampering?

Hardware and software – Evaluate the tools and equipment used in the store. Are the cameras, alarms, and theft detector in working order?  Are the POS, inventory, and other retail software up-to-date?

Inspect the store’s POS and payment terminals and check that they’re using the correct manufacturer and model.

Processes and procedures – Ensure that your staff implements your policies correctly by observing how they perform tasks such as ringing up a sale or processing a return. If a procedure isn’t carried out properly, take immediate steps to correct the mistakes.

Remember, minimizing loss is just as important as maximizing profit, especially during the busy holiday season. Fortunately, it’s not too late to beef up your stores’ security. Take action on the points above, and once you’ve ironed out your policies, conduct regular audits to keep everything in check.

Good luck and happy holidays!

About the author:

francesanicasioFrancesca Nicasio is a freelance writer and content strategist who’s dedicated to writing about retail trends and tips that help merchants increase sales, improve customer service, and be better retailers overall. Her work has been featured in top retail industry publications including Retail TouchPoints, Street Fight, Retail Customer Experience, and more. She’s also a featured thought leader on LinkedIn, and is followed by over 200,000 professionals on the site.

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