The worst of the pandemic may be over, but retailers will be feeling its effects for a long time to come:
- High street footfall fell by 68% in February 2021 when compared to the previous year
- The high street lost 17,500 chain stores in 2020
- Overall, the pandemic is estimated to have cost the UK economy over £250 billion
For the next few months, you will have to make every penny count. This means reducing losses to an absolute minimum. In previous blogs we’ve written about the ways in which VoCoVo can save you money by reducing colleague inefficiency. Sadly though, this is not the only way in which stores lose money.
Shoplifting was a major problem before the pandemic and it will continue to thrive in the post-COVID world. In this blog we’ll look at how VoCoVo helped one of the UK’s best loved retailers to take a stand against crime.
Retail crime is on the rise
In the years leading up to the pandemic, UK retailers were experiencing a shoplifting epidemic. The BRC’s 2020 retail crime survey made for sobering reading:
- In 2019, UK retailers lost £1 billion to crime
- £770 million was lost to shoplifting alone
- If you include the cost of preventative measures, crime cost UK retailers £2.2 million in 2019.
These statistics are part of a larger trend. Retail theft has been steadily rising throughout the 2010s, increasing by 5% in 2017 and 32% in 2018 With so much shoplifting going unreported, it is likely that the true figures are even higher.
The new normal means new opportunities for criminals
Although overall shoplifting incidents fell sharply in 2020 as a result of store closures, the retailers that remained open faced a new set of challenges:
- Facemasks have made it easier for shoplifters to hide their identities
- Social distancing measures have made colleagues reluctant to confront shoplifters
- The increased use of self-checkouts has made it easier to steal
It was against this backdrop that Dunelm approached us. The company was already using VoCoVo to great effect across all of its 173 stores. During the pandemic, our headsets and call points helped to streamline the Click & Collect process so that customers could spend as little time as possible in store.
Read the full story of Dunelm and VoCoVo
Dunelm coped well in 2020 with sales increasing by 23% in the second half of the year. Sadly, this success was accompanied by an increase in theft and abusive behaviour from customers. Colleagues were tired of seeing their efforts undermined. They needed a way to tackle crime without risking the safety of those working on the shop floor. We were happy to help.
Dunelm told us that it needed a combination of speed and discretion in order to tackle criminals. Colleagues needed a way to raise the alarm immediately without putting themselves at risk. We worked together with Dunelm on a solution.
Together, we decided to integrate our equipment with Dunelm’s existing PA system. Using their headsets, colleagues could trigger a security alert on the store’s tannoy. These alerts would be anonymous, so criminals wouldn’t know the identity or the location of the colleague who had raised the alarm. As well as allowing security teams to act quickly, the system also acted as a deterrent to potential criminals.
We introduced this feature in early 2021 and it has been a huge success. Colleagues can present a united front against criminals without putting themselves in any personal danger. Dunelm’s Service Support and Operations Manager Fareeaa Hanslot explains the benefits:
“For us, the security option brought in in 2021 is fantastic. It enables colleagues to trigger an announcement when there may be a threat, and the feedback from stores has been hugely positive. It gives teams confidence that something can be done to avoid a situation and protect colleagues.”
Improving security is just one of the many ways in which VoCoVo can make life easier for colleagues.