Woman shoplifting jeans

The Top Technology to Prevent Shoplifting

From cameras to product tags, use tech to deter criminals

Shoplifting can be extremely damaging to a business’s bottom line. From successful chains to small shops operating on thin margins, stores of all sizes know the impact of financial losses that result from theft.

A survey from the National Retail Federation found that the average cost of a shoplifting incident has reached $559. The most shoplifted items, according to the survey, were designer clothes, laundry detergent, infant formula, razors, designer handbags, denim pants, high-end liquor, deodorant, teeth whitening strips and smartphones.

A combination of smart planning and the right technology can be used to prevent shoplifters from walking out the door with your valuable merchandise. Though many of these devices req uire an up-front investment, they pay off in the long run by discouraging future incidents or catching product-snatchers in the act. Here’s an overview of the some the easiest-to-implement technologies to prevent shoplifting:

Video surveillance
Opportunity to shoplift strikes when your staff is unable to monitor entry points or at-risk items on display. Because the actions of a potential shoplifter are hidden from view, any stealing goes unnoticed: especially suspicious patterns of behavior such as removing several items of the same product off a shelf or actively avoiding store personnel.

Cameras are the most popular way of preventing, identifying and prosecuting shoplifters with minimal input required from employees. Video surveillance of shelves, checkout stands and entry points can provide evidence for the conviction of any person attempting to steal. Facial recognition software can even be used to compare shoppers with known offenders and alert management of a potential problem. Video analytics can be used to identify unusual patterns of behavior in shoppers caught on video and send an alert. Advanced connectivity solutions are critical to enable real-time monitoring and identification of shoplifting practices.

Security tags on shirt

Product tagging
Retail stores have long used electronic tagging to prevent stolen goods from leaving the premises. To remove or deactivate these tags, customers must checkout their goods to avoid setting off alarms. Some retailers will also attach ink tags to merchandise, which may not stop the theft immediately but will ruin the product should it be removed without the proper tools—thus deterring future shoplifting. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags can also be attached to product, allowing a store to track the product within the store. These types of loss prevention technologies require systems and processes to maintain the proper level of security and may not be cost effective for smaller retailers. While these types of systems will deter the casual or desperate shoplifter, professional shoplifters may find ways to circumvent the security system.

Shopping carts
Professional shoplifters generally steal large quantities of product: enough to fill entire shopping carts. Technologies exist to lock up the wheels of a shopping cart preventing removal from the store or immediate parking lot if a formal checkout is not processed. Underground sensor technologies may even detect shopping carts leaving the shop without completing the checkout. A modification of this technology requires the shopping cart to move through the checkout stand to “deactivate” the lockup procedure. Cameras mounted at checkout stands can be set to look under the shopping cart for products missed or hidden by the customer. This product can be automatically scanned and added to the customer’s bill.

Mobile point of sale
Mobile technology can offer employees the freedom to step out from behind their stationary checkout stands and move around the store. Mobile point-of-sale solutions require a tablet or smartphone with the ability to scan a credit card. This solution is particularly effective in large stores or in stores where only one employee is on duty at any given time. This capability not only reduces shoplifting opportunities, but also enables employees to provide greater service to honest customers.

With the security technology available on the market today, securing your business has become not only easier to implement but more robust and more affordable than ever before.

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