Retail Store Security: Top Risks and Ways to Reduce Them

retail store owner

Retail stores reached a record-breaking shrinkage in 2019. From the year prior’s $51 million, it went up to $61 billion. These shrinks — the term for “losses” in retail — resulted from theft and fraud.

Retailers reported increased incidents of employee theft and shoplifting. Based on the numbers, the National Retail Federation predicted that Organized Retail Crime (ORC) may increase exponentially in the last two quarters of 2020 and throughout 2021.

With the pandemic already causing massive losses in retail, your retail store can’t afford to be a victim of crime. Take note of these security risks and take steps to reduce them:

1. Burglary

Aside from theft and shoplifting, burglary is also common in retail stores. In fact, small businesses are four times more likely to be victims of it than homes. Not to be confused with theft, which doesn’t involve forced entry, burglary is the act of stealing objects through breaking and entering.

Burglars steal goods in different ways. If you have window displays, they may smash the glass and grab the items. They can also use unguarded entrances, like a window, a ceiling vent, or a backdoor. Sometimes, they’d be bolder, entering through the front door in broad daylight and coming out with stolen goods or cash.

To prevent burglary, avoid using window displays that could tempt burglars. In fact, remove your window displays altogether, especially if your store is in a burglary-prone area. Put your displays on the front counter checkout instead.

Assess your storefront; it’s the most vulnerable access point of your establishment. It should have security cameras, motion sensors, and adequate lighting. Consider installing a high-quality commercial alarm system as well. It would go off if a burglar breaks the glass or picks the lock of the front door at night.

It won’t hurt to reinforce your glass windows and walls as well. If your store uses traditional glass, swap them out for tempered glass or polycarbonate, which are far tougher. And to discourage burglars from picking the locks, install bars on the doors and windows.

2. Theft and Fraud


As pointed out above, retail stores suffered an all-time high shrink from theft and fraud in 2019. Many retail stores prevent such incidents through technology. For instance, artificially intelligent video systems can identify potential problems. They also use burglar alarms, video recorders, and CCTV cameras that are visible to customers.

Going high-tech to prevent theft and fraud isn’t necessary, though. Surveillance cameras alone will help, as long as it provides live footage. But a more foolproof security measure is requiring your employees to log in when they’re at the register. This will help you identify a suspect if you lost cash. And in this case, using a bit of technology will come in handy. A fingerprint or facial recognition system, for example, can ensure that employees who logged in are accurately identified. This prevents forgery or sabotage from plotting employees.

Assign a manager to oversee transactions often associated with employee theft. They should approve voided transactions, returns, and/or gift card sales. This prevents employees from pocketing cash or handing a customer a blank gift card.

Protect your inventory as well. Track your stocks using an inventory management system integrated with your POS. And at the end of every day, have your employees go through security checks. Be as vigilant with them as you would with customers.

3. Shoplifting

Burglary and theft prevention methods also work in preventing shoplifting. In addition to those, train your employees on recognizing common shoplifting tactics. Often, you won’t assume that a customer is there to steal when they visit your store. As such, you leave them to their own devices until they approach the checkout counter to pay. But if you have a lot of customers, you can lose track of a specific one, so you’d never notice if that customer paid, or even left your store.

Since it’s impossible to pay attention to every customer at the same time, have some employees follow customers around as they shop. Customers may not be so fond of this approach, but it’s effective as a security measure and customer service style. There should be at least two employees monitoring customers because an accomplice can distract the employee while the shoplifter slips an item into their bag.

Shoplifters also hide items in their clothing, so instruct your employees to also check for suspicious protrusions on a customer’s outfit. In addition, instruct the cashier to carefully check the price tags of items before punching them on the register. That’s because sometimes, shoplifters switch price tags so that they’d pay less for an expensive item.

By noting these risks and taking steps to prevent them, your retail store will become less attractive to burglars, thieves, and shoplifters. Stay consistent with your security measures, because going complacent may render all your efforts useless in time.

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