Theft is on the rise; how can retailers prepare?

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Theft is on the rise; how can retailers prepare?

One of the biggest economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic is the exceptionally high increase in unemployment, which due to a combination of business closures and cutbacks, is set to rise to 2.6 million by mid-2021. Sadly, the vulnerability of those with less available income can often result in crime spikes, and subsequently have a direct impact on theft levels within stores. There has been a 66.7% increase in shrinkage-related theft which correlates with the rise of unemployment in the UK. With this mind, retailers will have to adapt and protect against this spike in theft. 

From August to October 2020, 370,000 redundancies were recorded in the UK. It is crucial to note that this figure comes after the government furlough schemes were introduced, meaning more can be expected in the future. As unemployment rises, inevitably so will levels of in-store-theft, leaving retailers to either implement loss prevention technology or feel the sting of increasing crime rates.

Are traditional loss prevention techniques enough?

The economic consequences brought on by the pandemic have caused an interesting shift in the type of items which are being stolen. High-cost items such as alcohol aren’t being as frequently targeted. Instead, basic food items and commodities such as avocados and hygiene products have become key targets of theft. These day-to-day items tend not to be security tagged because they are not considered ‘high-ticket’ items. 

Traditional methods like security tagging individual products and scanners don’t have the capability to fully capture theft in the low-level products category. In order to have complete visibility and control of shrinkage loss, retailers need to take extra measures to identify all types of theft. Sources suggest that 30-70% of theft takes place at the self-checkout, with customers bagging items without scanning, or in some cases ticket switching. 

Now, more than ever, having accurate shrinkage data is crucial as it allows for better inventory management, prevention of loss and helps retain customers that would otherwise migrate to competitors due to items going out of stock. 

Theft is on the rise; how can retailers prepare?

The MVP in Shrinkage Solutions 

Having a smart Loss Prevention Solution helps retailers reduce shrinkage without impacting the customer shopping experience. This is especially important at a time when theft is up and extra compassion to customers is necessary for customer satisfaction.  

We use machine-vision technology that integrates with security cameras and analyses camera footage for product identification and suspicious behaviour. It captures all products by using barcode identification, providing accurate data on shrinkage levels, leaving retailers with valuable insight into theft. This works by continuously capturing all customer interactions across the store, providing real-time insight on loss. For example, if a customer were to place an item in their basket but not scan the same product at a self-checkout, the till would automatically shut down and notify the security guard or manager.  

The data collated over time can be analysed on both individual store and estate-wide basis, giving users insight into what products are most frequently stolen, and in which stores. The great thing about that kind of insight is that it allows retailers to physically implement changes to their store layouts (removing commonly stolen items from blind spots for example) in order to reduce theft. Estate-wide data allows retailers to compare different store locations as each one might require different actions, so retailers can tailor their responses to individual stores and make efficient changes to stop theft in the future.  

Of course, the biggest question that comes up in the machine vision conversation is about ethics. Our privacy focused solution only sends metadata to the cloud, meaning no images of the customers are stored. The aim of the solution is minimising shrinkage and loss without compromising customer convenience. For example, security tags may no longer be needed with the implementation of our solution, giving a more seamless purchasing process to customers.  

If you would like to know how our Loss Prevention Solution can help you prepare for the rising theft, get in touch! 

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Mike Jeffs
Mike Jeffs

Further Reading

Utilising the Retail Relief Package for Long-Term Survival
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Utilising the Retail Relief Package for Long-Term Survival

Rishi Sunak announced that the UK Government are releasing a £4.6 billion relief package scheme to the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors. These sectors are to be given up to £9,000 one-off grants. Additionally, £594 million will be given to councils to help the businesses impacted by local lockdowns who are not eligible for the new payments.

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