The retail asset protection/loss prevention (AP/LP) world got to reunite in person once again, this time at NRF Protect in Cleveland, Ohio on June 20-23. Much has changed since the last time this event was held. But the mission remains the same: to come together as a community and share insights and tools to address today’s loss prevention challenges.
As always at face-to-face events, I had a great time seeing old friends and connecting with new ones. It was extra special this time, as we had our CEO Phil Thomson and Director of Technology James Corbett up from New Zealand attending the event too. It was a great opportunity for them to meet my friends and further the relationships that they have built.
Here’s a recap of the event and some key takeaways.
Teeing up support for the AP/LP community
Being able to connect in person with others in the industry is something very special to me as it’s so much more than just an industry - it’s a community that supports and cheers each other on. Nothing exemplified this more than the opening event that kicked the conference off, “Swing for Certification.”
This was a fundraising golf tournament which raised money for Loss Prevention Foundation’s LPC and LPQ certification scholarships. More than 100 retailers and solution providers helped to raise thousands of dollars for the scholarships, as well as $5,500 for the Loss Prevention Benevolent Fund. The fund provides grants to AP professionals and their families who have suffered significant injury or death while conducting the duties of their job.
This was a great example of how the asset protection community comes together to support the professionalism of the industry, as well as one another as colleagues and friends.
From there, everyone gathered at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for networking and catching up like old friends. The energy was palpable and an exciting indication of the week to come!
The future is collaboration
Much like the RILA Retail Asset Protection Conference that took place in April, community was a theme we heard throughout this event too. The conference covered topics surrounding loss prevention, digital fraud, and cyber risk, featuring hundreds of executives from across the country.
One message was clear: executives must develop new methods of establishing effective leadership and new methods of collaboration to stay ahead of what we are seeing in the world of retail today. Traditionally, retailers have taken a tactical approach to addressing issues. However, the real power resides in collaboration and information sharing in order to work together as retailers and solution providers to provide a holistic approach to these challenges.
According to NRF's 2021 National Retail Security Survey, more than two-thirds of retailers said the pandemic increased the overall risk of ORC (Organized Retail Crime) for their organization because it attracted enterprising retail criminals. ORC groups are becoming more sophisticated and are expanding across the United States. Goods are being exported and ending up back in the supply chain to be sold by reputable retailers. Some groups have even attempted to open their own stores full of stolen merchandise.
The rise in ORC is not news to us, but the impact is undeniable and the problem is only getting worse. This begs the need for retailers to come together, along with Law Enforcement, to work together as a unified force - as a community - much like those perpetrating ORC themselves.
In this regard, it was encouraging to see all the Organized Retail Crime Associations (ORCAs) that had “pods” in the NRF Fusion Center on the Expo Hall floor. There were groups from all across the country talking with retailers about how they can better leverage a network like the ORCAs against ORC.
We attended the ORC/Investigators’ Network and Law Enforcement Lunch, where we heard from law enforcement officers on the trends they are seeing out there in the market and how we might work together to address them. They also spoke about success stories where they were able to bring down major ORC operations by working together with retailers to identify the people causing loss and bring an end to their activities. These stories were textbook examples of what can be done when we come together and collaborate with each other and our Law Enforcement partners!
Following the presentations, there were roundtable discussions about what can be done to combat ORC and how we can better collaborate and leverage the sharing of information to build a network of investigators to target the network of people committing ORC. Yes, that was a long winded way to say, “it takes a network to defeat a network!” While that may have become a cliche as I say it too often, the reality is that we are in fact building that network! In case you missed it, we are a community. A community of Asset Protection professionals that comes together at these conferences to network! Our network grows every time we discuss the situation together and share best practices with one another. Our network grows every time we meet new people in the industry and introduce them to others that can assist in our efforts.
Around the bend
So, until the next time we are all face to face, let's continue fighting the good fight. Let’s continue working together to combat ORC as well as the other issues we all face. Let’s remember that we are all in this together and most of the time, we are only a phone call, email, or text message away!
Catch us at NRF Protect next year (June 5-7) at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas. It will be interesting to chat about Auror’s insights for the next 12 months and how we’re progressing as a community against ORC groups. We especially expect the conversation around Retail Crime Intelligence and dot connecting to keep growing throughout the year. See you there!
Didn’t get a chance to meet us in Cleveland? Book a call today.