It’s hard to recall a time when keeping stores safe and products on-shelf has been so challenging and complex. Some of the major drivers of this include the rising cost of living, opioid epidemic, online marketplaces making fencing easier and more lucrative, and low risk of prosecution.
This article is not about deep diving on these challenges – they are what they are. This article is about what can be done about it.
The role of an AP/LP leader today is not easy. To reduce the impacts of retail crime for your organization, an AP/LP leader must:
- Make the whole organization the AP/LP team
- Get their data in order
- Connect and leverage technology to supercharge the organization
You’ve likely heard this before, so what’s new? Well, 1 - 3 above are easy to say, but much harder to actually do. Let’s drill into each one.
Make the whole organization the AP/LP team
This is a maxim for AP/LP leaders. The more engaged the whole organization is in reducing loss and violence in stores, generally, the more successful the organization will be in reducing their negative impact.
AP/LP leaders understand the importance of training operators to deal with shoplifters and conflict. However, we often see a reluctance to empower the frontline with real-time intelligence about high-risk people entering their stores. The AP/LP leaders are rightly worried about their associates’ safety. But what if they approach a high-risk person blindly and get hurt? What’s the liability risk? In our view, not giving any visibility of who is high-risk to your stores is a much higher risk to your organization.
Empowering your frontline with real-time, accurate information on who high-risk people are that may come to their stores is vital to sustainably target-harden your stores. Reducing anonymity of the prolific shoplifters and ORC groups is one of the key levers to reducing crime and ORC in your stores. We’ve seen this time and time again with retailers around the world. That, once John and Jane Doe are getting greeted in stores, they leave the store, will try another couple of stores of the same retailer. When the same thing happens in those stores, they choose to do their “shopping” at another retailer and will still have their anonymity.
We must stress this is only one of the levers that helps sustainably reduce crime in stores – there are multiple levers that need to be pulled in unison, and consistently, to drive lower shrink, better on-shelf availability, and a safer environment for associates and customers.
Some retailers recognize this and have traditionally used Be on the Lookouts (BOLOs). The challenge with BOLOs is that it is a manual process actioned by a team member. There is often a significant time lag. It’s over email. By the time it's dispatched and read, prolific shoplifters and ORC groups have hit your stores multiple times. It’s just not dynamic enough to be a robust solution.
Rexall, a leading pharmacy brand in Canada with around 400 stores, has seen a 20% reduction in shrink over the last three years while many retailers are seeing their shrink increase. Director of Asset Protection at Rexall, Daryl Blackmore, attributes frontline empowerment as being a critical driver of this, "With the right information at the right time, our team members can stop accidents before they start."
Leaders who are serious about reducing crime and ORC in stores need to look for solutions that empower the frontline. The level of transparency and empowerment may feel uncomfortable at times, but it’s paramount to addressing these problems at scale.
Get your data in order
For any retailer of scale, if you don’t get your data in order, you can’t reduce shrink. This applies to reducing external loss too.
What do we mean by getting your data in order? You want your data to be:
- Timely (ideally real-time)
- Complete / holistic
Connecting the dots across stores, solutions, and retailers – and leveraging AI effectively – is always going to be a losing battle if you don’t get your data structured.
With these myriad of data issues at play, it’s no wonder that many AP/LP leaders today don’t see traditional case management as a strategic technology investment. It’s just a dumping ground for bad data. Traditional case management systems are woefully inadequate to be the critical system in combating the complexity of retail crime and ORC. The journey for retail leaders is to go from a system of record (the old way) to a system of intelligence (the new way). We’re finding that when these leaders understand the new way, it’s a huge organizational and cultural unlock for AP/LP.
Connect and leverage technology to supercharge your organization
As the macro-environment becomes increasingly challenging, retailers are being asked to do more with less.
The opportunity here is for AP/LP leaders to connect solutions together to deliver even more value. Many retailers invest in the same technologies to help reduce loss in stores and keep people safe: cameras and video analytics, trolley push-out prevention, self-checkout AI, and POS exception-based reporting. But how do you tie them all together effectively to make your AP/LP team, and entire frontline, more effective?
You need an intelligence system to tie everything together.
1. Solution: Reducing crime starts with Intel
Powered by actionable and searchable intel from your frontline teams and other systems, identify and prevent the people impacting your stores.
2. Solution: Enrich your intel with Connect the Dots
Experience the magic of AI-generated dot connection as your intel becomes unprecedented visibility into the groups impacting your organization the most.
3. Solution: Drive impact with Insights
Turn your Intel into action with dynamic insights, and unlock answers for your team when they need it the most.
4. Solution: Investigate & resolve cases, faster.
Resolve the cases that matter, faster. Leverage Intel on the people impacting your stores to securely build, collaborate, and resolve cases.
5. Solution: Supercharge your preventions with ALPR
Safely prevent 80% of repeat loss and violence. ALPR enables automatic detections and alerts for your team as known offender vehicles enter your store.
The future: a Retail Crime Intelligence platform
Taking an outcome-based approach to reducing retail crime is about increasing effectiveness, scalability, and collaboration through network effects. But higher than that, it’s about positioning your solutions in a way that empowers the entire organization to reduce the anonymity prolific offenders and ORC groups thrive on.
Without this organizational shift, structured and accurate data, real-time visibility, and connectivity across systems, the challenge to outpace retail crime will continue to get more difficult. But with these attributes and solutions, the future of loss prevention extends beyond loss and safety into a position to transform the store experience for good customers.