The War Against Shrinkage and Retail Fraud: 4 Weapons to Put in Your Arsenal

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  2. 2017
  3. November

Man in armor fighting retail fraudDoesn’t it seem like criminals somehow manage to stay ahead of retailers in the fight against shrinkage? Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the problem, shoplifters dream up some new scheme to lift your merchandise. In fact, last year retail shrinkage cost the industry nearly $50 billion.

Shrinkage and retail fraud will always be an uphill battle but there are steps you can take to deter criminals — and employees — from lining their pockets at your expense.

#1 Invest in Training Your Frontline Soldiers: Store Associates

Your first line of defense in the war against retail fraud is one of your most valuable assets: your boots-on-the-ground store associates. There are many ways they can be useful in combating shrinkage, from something as simple as greeting each customer who walks in (so that potential shoplifters know they’ve been personally seen and spoken to) to ensuring you’re adequately and visibly staffed with associates located throughout the store.

Teach your associates to be on the lookout for suspicious or questionable behaviors that can indicate the potential for retail fraud. Does a shopper look nervous? Is one shopper engaging a staffer while another group is clustered elsewhere in the store? Is the person touching a lot of products but not seeming particularly interested? These can all be signs that consumers are up to no good.

Shoplifters continuously evolve their methods so keep your associates up to speed on the scams du jour. Maybe it’s using an umbrella or baby stroller to squirrel away stolen goods or switching price stickers to pay a lower price for a high-ticket item. Whatever the case may be, educated associates stand a better chance of spotting retail fraud if they know what to look for.

And be vocal about informing associates that retail fraud isn’t just a problem with shoppers; it’s an internal issue as well. Set policies for the entire associate workflow so that the same staffer isn’t always taking the trash out, for example (a common way to smuggle stolen merchandise out of the store).

#2 How People Counters Combat Shrinkage

Technology is also your ally is the war on retail fraud. In particular, people counters provide a data-driven look at your high-traffic areas, which can help you single out spots in your store where you should be on the lookout for suspicious activity, beef up your staffing, add video camera surveillance and increase signage warning shoplifters. Did you know that simply including an image of eyes on a “shoplifters beware” sign significantly deters would-be thieves from stealing?

#3 A Right-Sized Returns Policy

In an effort to keep customers happy, some retailers create return policies that please loyal shoppers — but create vulnerabilities with the sticky-fingered set. To prevent retail fraud, require that customers bring receipts along with the products they’re returning to ensure that the amount you’re reimbursing them isn’t greater than what they paid. And set a timeframe for returns so that you’re not burdened with inventory that’s difficult to move.

#4 How POS Reports Protect Against Retail Fraud

Speaking of inventory, here’s where your POS platform also gives you insights into shrinkage. POS reports offer on-demand details about your inventory holdings — and shine the spotlight on potential anomalies. By regularly reviewing your POS reports, you can begin to recognize trends in your stock levels and how they match up to both sales and employee shifts. If a particular associate routinely is logging an unusually high number of coupons or discounts on her shift, it could be a red flag that she’s skimming from the till. At the very least, you’re equipped with hard numbers to investigate further.

With a thoughtful strategy, retail shrinkage can be managed and reduced. By implementing these four tactics, you can stay ahead of both shoplifters and dishonest employees all while protecting your profits.

How Some of the Most Visited Museums Use People Counters to their Advantage

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  2. 2017
  3. November

Most Visited MuseumsWhile some of the country’s most-visited museums might be best known for the dazzling treasures within their four walls, they also have something else in common. In addition to organizing top-notch exhibitions, institutions ranging from New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh all use people-counting technology to yield insights into exhibition performance, facility management and staffing needs.

Eyes on the Experience

You spent countless weeks assembling the exhibition and gathering just the right objects to tell a memorable story. Once the opening-day butterflies have faded away, it’s time to start measuring how the exhibition is faring with visitors. The most-visited museums use traffic-counting systems to monitor the flow of visitors into and throughout the facility, and data on hotspots where crowds gather can yield useful information about the areas attracting audiences and others that are overlooked. People counters also can reveal where visitors begin and end their journey, helpful in understanding how many experience the exhibition in its entirety.

Staging a successful exhibition is a blend of art and science. Data you collect from exhibitions can help you plan well-received efforts in the future and optimize the guest experience throughout the whole event.

Keep Your Building in Tip-Top Shape

The most-visited museums keep their facilities as pristine as their art and artifacts, thanks in part to the strategic use of people-counting systems. There are a number of factors that play into becoming a first-tier cultural institution beyond collections and curators. How often do the floors need to be mopped? Do restrooms need to be refreshed twice daily? What about larger maintenance projects, like structural repairs, window washing and more? Use your people counters to understand the level of traffic your building can endure before maintenance is required. A well-kept facility helps to attract visitors; many museum-goers are drawn to the peaceful, sanctuary-like feel of these cultural spaces.

Safe and Secure

You can always find large crowds thronging to the most-visited museums, and more often than not, it’s an orderly, civilized affair. How do powerhouse museums like Carnegie, Getty and The Met run a tight ship? By leveraging people-counting data to get security staffing levels just right.

It’s important to ensure you’ve deployed enough security personnel not to just to protect your priceless objects but also to keep crowds under control. Are visitors bunching up in one specific area of a special exhibition? Security can help to keep everyone safe by steering museum-goers from one room to another, optimizing visitor flow as much as possible.

People-counting data aids not only with security staffing but also with your workforce management overall. By reviewing your historical traffic data, you can get a feel for the days, weeks and months when you attract the greatest volumes of visitors and times when you can lower costs by scheduling only essential personnel. For example, perhaps you need only half the visitor assistants on a slow Tuesday that you would on a perfect Saturday afternoon. The most-visited museums rely on actionable insights from traffic-counting data to right-size their staff schedules and keep labor costs under control.

The most-visited museums achieve their success not just by acquiring invaluable objects but also by the strategic use of technology both to enhance the visitor experience as well as optimize organizational operations. Take a cue from the leaders in your field and see what people counters can do for you.