Theft accounts for huge shrinkage costs in retail – up to $60 billion across the US and Europe. In the UK, retail shrinkage costs businesses $6.7 billion annually, accounting for 1.4% of sales. Theft and security play a crucial role in shaping how retail leaders manage stores.
The arrival of a global pandemic has also shaped the situation. We’ve seen a trend towards shoppers becoming more challenging and losses through theft rising.
But at VoCoVo, we don’t believe in letting challenges get the better of us. In fact, we’ve seen our customers address these circumstances in innovative ways.
Challenge 1 – Colleague safety
In 2020, health and safety is paramount. Retailers understandably place colleagues’ wellbeing front of mind. In stripped back teams, or stores with fewer colleagues, it’s even more challenging to ensure everyone is protected and safe.
We’ve seen retailers come together to petition the government in the UK, demanding action around the increasing violence and abuse colleagues face. Our own research supports these trends, suggesting over half of colleagues deal with altercations at work. What can be done?
Download our report, Empowering the Forgotten Frontline, here.
The key to ensuring safety whilst maintaining a presence, we feel, is effective team communication. Colleagues that are visibly connected present more of a challenge to would-be thieves, and act as a deterrent. Even in very small teams, the headset acts as an immediate connection between colleagues and security teams. It also empowers colleagues to feel part of a team, even if that team is spread across a larger location.
Challenge 2 – Rising organised theft
A worrying trend developing in security is the rise of organised retail crime (ORC). Already, almost a fifth of thefts take place by organised groups of criminals. For colleagues, this experience can be terrifying.
The latest report issued by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) suggests that 1.1m incidences of theft took place in 2020 already, 50,000 of which were violent. On average, stores spent £4,504 each on crime prevention measures in store. As the ACS focuses on convenience stores, it’s clear that theft and security presents a huge challenge for colleagues in small teams and small business owners.
Although retail communication cannot prevent the rising causes of theft, it can act as a deterrent and an important way of bringing teams together. VoCoVo’s solution is single-touch, meaning that conversations instantly take place in a discrete manner. This allows for instant, secure access to the whole team, security team or emergency services.
Challenge 3 – Customer altercations
Recent studies into retail trends suggest that 2020 was a year in which customer altercations rose sharply. This is being felt most of all by our colleagues on the front line. Our own data showed that 75% of colleagues experienced a situation in which their physical safety was at-risk, of which only a third would call for help. These figures are staggering, and are supported by the most recent investigations by the ACS and Co-op.
Social and political shifts, alongside a huge global pandemic, are causing customers to feel more fraught during their shopping experience. As tempers fray, more altercations are occurring. This is both saddening and frightening for colleagues and customers alike.
We understand that one of the biggest causes of customer frustration is poor communication and long wait times. Keeping a store organised, calm and safe can be addressed with far more efficiency by a connected, empowered team.