How to balance emerging technologies with loss prevention risk
Mobile and customer-centricity are the buzzwords on everyone's lips these days, and it's easy to get carried away in the excitement of so much new technology. But the rational minds who work in retailers' IT and loss prevention departments have a few thoughts and concerns before you purchase all of your in-store staff iPads and eschew paper receipts in favor of digital ones. Executives from Ann Taylor, NRF and Sears gathered to offer some cautionary insights at yesterday's "Emerging Technologies: Driving Business for Retailers, While Minimizing Risks for Fraudsters" session at Retail's BIG Show.
Although there are risk management concerns with technology such as Wi-Fi, new payment technologies are an area that yesterday's panelists expressed particular concern with. They're also part of a surge in new technology innovations that are coming to market much faster than they have ever before. Retailers need to plan for every inevitability - and introducing emerging technology to your store can bring with it a plethora of new options for criminals.
Consider some of the applications of mobile payment. In-aisle purchasing is a hot topic now. But what happens after a customer has made his or her purchase in aisle? Does he or she simply leave the store, holding the item? Will your staff assume a person who didn't go through traditional checkout is shoplifting? Do you have a process in place for making sure that item was paid for? There are no right or wrong answers here, but panelists urged us to rethink loss prevention policies when introducing emerging technologies.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution in this scenario. Some retailers may want a greeter at the door to double check purchases as people leave. Others may want to have a staffer monitor all in-store purchases on a tablet device. Still others may see a need to readdress security cameras when dealing with this issue.
Other questions, of course, remain. How do you prevent your staff from confusing a legitimate mobile purchaser with a thief? How do you handle the new window of opportunity for fraudulent returns? Moderator Evan Schuman, of StorefrontBacktalk.com Retail Technology Blog, raised the question of dealing with consumer devices and the complications that may entail. Criminals are savvy and capable of developing fake receipts and other images on their phones before they even enter the store.
While this sounds like a lot of potential security concerns, Joe LaRocca, NRF's Senior Asset Protection Advisor, raised an excellent point in favor of all of these new technologies. The U.S. has already undergone three major changes in currency: from coins to paper to card. Now the U.S. is beginning to change its currency to be virtual. There have always been individuals who want to scam the system, and there always will be. Retailers have always had to trust that consumers' offered currencies aren't fraudulent, and that will continue to be true.
Overall, these new technologies serve to enhance customer experience, said LaRocca. Loss prevention is not about preventing purchasing - it's about protecting the interests of the retailer and the consumer.
The number one suggestion that all of today's panelists shared was that you need to get LP involved in mobile conversations from the very beginning. They approach new technology with a very different set of questions than the rest of your company, and getting those questions answered earlier rather than later can prevent a lot of headaches - and crime.