Two years ago, I was sitting in the ‘war room’ at one of our retail partners, watching them piece together an Organized Retail Crime (ORC) investigation. Auror had become a key part of their methodology to efficiently and effectively surface and take down ORC groups. Over the last 12 months, they had developed their methodology and it was delivering exceptional results, in fact, their ORC program was delivering an ROI of 800%.
Like many ORC programs, a big focus was on identifying and dismantling the reselling/fencing. Auror made this easy and repeatable for our retail partner because:
- Stores were reporting 200% more incidents and they were making these reports far closer to real-time, rather than days.
- The Auror platform enabled them to connect the dots on individual incidents to identify the 10% of offenders driving 50% of the reported loss. At any moment, they could surface the most prolific offender based on hot product and geography.
- The ORC team would focus surveillance efforts on these prolific boosters with the goal of identifying where they were fencing the stolen merchandise.
It was great to see how effectively their ORC program was working. But I still felt our platform could support them better, and help them drive more outcomes in less time. Why?
In the war room, they would have Auror printouts and surveillance images of the boosters and fencing operations they were uncovering. They would have a to-do-list on the whiteboard. They would have numerous documents piecing together the investigation narrative to present to their law enforcement partners. This involved lots of back and forth, along with a lot of documentation updates. I felt this was an opportunity to build purpose built software to support retail AP/LP investigations including but not limited to ORC.
We started asking around other retail investigator leaders (with a focus on non-Auror partners) to understand how they build out their investigations. It became clear that no case management system was doing a good job on supporting retail AP/LP investigations, particularly ones where retailers needed to work with law enforcement.
We made the decision to invest in building something groundbreaking. To do what we do best, and challenge the status quo by taking a new approach to how a system should work for our retail partners, we call it Auror Investigate.
Before we introduce Auror Investigate, I want to recap on the challenges we uncovered facing retail AP/LP investigators and have set about to address:
Increasing complexity of investigations
Many retailers are experiencing growth in omni-channel fraud and financial crimes. It can be challenging to identify the suspect(s). Similarly, the rise of online marketplaces is seeing more stolen merchandise sold online.
Decriminalization of shoplifting & resource constrained law enforcement
Retailers are having to shift away from responding to individual incidents in stores and instead focus on building cases on the most prolific offenders, and work with law enforcement to prosecute them. This is increasing caseload, and the opportunities for prolific offenders targeting your stores to fall through the cracks due to bandwidth.
Myriad of tools for documenting investigations
Currently, most retailers document the outcome of a case in their case management system and attach the documents they created for it. However, the actual case documentation typically occurs in Word, Powerpoint, and Excel. Evidence is stored on cloud storage applications like Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox. For more complicated investigations, an analyst tool like i2 may be used. This creates challenges around consistency across investigators, version control, and information security.
No seamless way to turn incidents into investigations
Based on conversations with various retail partners, we estimate that ~50% of investigations are initiated based on information that comes from store teams, typically in the form of incidents they report. Yet, no system we’ve seen, allows an investigator to seamlessly turn incidents into an investigation. Another aspect of the investigation building process that is manual and onerous.
No way to collaborate digitally, easily
As we know, many boosters target specific products that multiple retailers may sell. The easier we can make it to quickly piece together these cross-retailer investigations, the faster we can disrupt and dismantle the criminal enterprise and stem retailer loss. Currently, a lot of this collaboration relies on personal relationships, jumping on a call and sending emails. We believe there is an opportunity to supercharge cross-retail case building in a safe and secure way.
Preparing the file for law enforcement prosecution
There is no click of a button way to produce a case file for law enforcement. For more complex investigations, preparing the case file can take days. This is time that is not being spent progressing other investigations.
No network effect between investigations
When investigations are documented as Word documents or briefly as outcomes in case management systems, investigators are missing out on the data network effect between investigations. For instance, it’s difficult to make connections between investigations, and the investigators and geographies they cover over time. We believe this is a huge opportunity to raise the efficacy of retail investigations.
It’s pretty clear that retail AP/LP investigations can be tedious, inefficient, and cumbersome. We believe purpose built software can overcome a lot of the current challenges. Empower your investigators to drive more outcomes for the business.