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Loss Prevention

When it comes to shrink reduction, one size does not fit all

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Whether you run one store or one hundred, there's no business too small to find the best techniques to reduce shrink and increase profit margins. Even when retailers are armed with the latest methods, the biggest factor in reducing shrink is often the resources store managers have available to achieve the greatest return on investment.

An experienced panel of executives provided a glimpse at how their loss prevention tools come into play in this important task. Taking note of some of the techniques shared by the loss prevention experts at bebe Stores and the Ascena Retail Group, the session was flipped to let attendees share how they leverage resources to overcome limits in staffing, budget and technological resources. Each table was mixed with retailers and solution providers of all sizes, and six tables volunteered to share their consensus on the best methodologies they used to battle shrinkage.

  1. Exception-based reporting: An email report sent from executives to store managers serves as a "one-stop-shop" to show when the larger, bulkier items were sold in-store. Managers are then asked to go and check the footage at the time of the sale and see how their employees interacted with the customers. The supervisors were also instructed to praise associates who would make the extra effort to examine the entire shopping cart for items potentially hidden beneath the larger merchandise, and educate those who did not, to do better at trying to identify those instances.
  2. Business acumen strategy: A reliable tool in the industry, a survey of your current employees helps executives determine if associates understand sound sales and operating procedures before bringing in the loss prevention professionals.
  3. Employee training and education: One table found that a "town hall" scenario allowed associates from other stores to interact with their retail brethren. Retailers with the means to have their LP teams meet face-to-face with associates find this to be an invaluable educational opportunity.
  4. "Out of the box" approaches: Undercover programs, such as LP-focused questionnaires, help executives identify the best asset protection programs to implement, and also determine if there are any suspicious operations on local and regional levels. A "Take 5" process was another way LP practices could be woven into everyday routines and help these become habit.
  5. Integrate executive LP knowledge at store-level: To get around geographical barriers, some companies choose an LP "theme of the week" to email among their stores. A topic to underscore the theme is discussed each day to increase awareness and drive home loss prevention basics.
  6. Breeding a culture of honesty: Through the customer service lens, advise associates to ask general questions to engage shoppers and identify “mystery shoppers.”

What methods do you use to achieve the best shrink results with minimal resources?