Theft is costing retailers over $100 billion a year. Here’s how VoCoVo is designed to help.

Shoplifting has become a $100 billion dollar problem, and associates are struggling to cope. Here’s how you can turn things around in 2024.

Article by Joshua Watkins | 2nd February 2024

Theft has always been a problem for retailers, but as we enter 2024 it is clear it is now an existential threat. Organized criminals turned to shoplifting as a way to finance their other illegal activities, and the effects were devastating. Losses spiraled out of control, while a rising tide of violence left many associates afraid to go to work. Urgent action is needed, and this is where we can help. 

By allowing immediate communication between associates, our headsets provide a key strategic advantage for security teams. This acts as a powerful deterrent for criminals while providing a sense of reassurance for everyone else. Here’s how we can help you to take back control in 2024. 

 

What are the biggest challenges facing stores in the new year?

 

A new breed of criminal

When asked to name their biggest security concerns of 2023, 80% of retailers pointed to organized retail theft. This is clearly an issue that is preying on everyone’s minds, and it’s easy to see why:

  • Retail theft has increased by 94% in the last five years
  • Stores lost $112 billion to thieves in 2022, and losses are expected to reach $140 by 2025
  • Target saw a 120% rise in shoplifting in the first five months of 2023

 

In order to make sense of these numbers, we need to recognize that we’re dealing with a new kind of criminal. Modern shoplifters are not the individual opportunists of old. As Matthew Shay, President of the National Retail Federation, explains, thieves have become part of a much bigger network:

“It’s not people shoplifting an individual item for personal use. These are very sophisticated local, state, national and transnational organizations, organized not just to steal at the store level, but throughout the entire supply chain- on the docks, on trucks, off ships, through containers, on the railways. This is a really persistent problem and it’s across the supply chain.”

 

Associates deserve better

These losses are only part of the story. While the financial impact has been disastrous, the effect on associate morale has been even worse. As well as being more organized, shoplifters with links to criminal gangs are more likely to resort to violence. As our own Global Sales Director Tom Thurlow explains, this has put millions of associates in harm’s way:

“Criminals aren’t coming in with guns and emptying the cash register. They’re filling baskets with valuable stock and then walking out, threatening any associates who try to stop them.”

 

77% of stores have noticed an increase in violence against associates, while the number of shoplifting incidents involving assault has risen by 9%. Unsurprisingly, this has left many associates afraid to go to work:

 

There are multiple reasons for this last statistic, but in-store violence is certainly a factor. In a recent survey of 400 retail associates, 66% said that violence had impacted morale, while 46% said that it had had a direct effect on employee turnover. If stores want to avoid mass resignations, they need to act fast to put associate safety at the top of the agenda. This is where we come in. 

 

Read more: How our system puts associate wellbeing first

 

A smarter way to tackle crime

The good news is that both of these problems can be solved at once. By cracking down on theft, you can reduce financial losses while improving associate morale. This won’t be easy, but we’re here to help. 

 

Many stores are still understaffed, and this creates a golden opportunity for shoplifters to slip through the net. Our system is designed to plug these gaps, ensuring that even a small team can stay on top of potential security threats:

  • Headsets act as a visible deterrent to criminals. Thieves can see that associates are in contact, making shoplifting seem like a riskier proposition. 
  • Headsets allow constant communication between security and floor associates. If an associate spots a crime in progress, they can alert security without having to track them down. 
  • Headsets can be used instead of PA announcements. This allows associates to call security without tipping off criminals.
  • Our API allows smart security cameras to send notifications directly to associates’ headsets. If a camera spots suspicious behavior, it can send an automatic alert to the security team. 
  • Our messagecast feature lets head office send security warnings to multiple stores at once. If an organized gang is operating in the area, they can warn everyone to be on the lookout. 
  • Telephony integration allows associates to call the police without having to find a phone first. 

 

We’ve tested this approach in stores of every shape and size, and the results have been impressive. A small independent grocery store in the UK was able to save £330 (around $420) a week by using our headsets to crack down on alcohol theft. The effects on morale are also significant, with 54% of associates feeling safer when wearing our headsets. 

We can’t stop shoplifting completely, but we can give security teams a fighting chance. If you’d like to find out more about our security features, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Stay connected

Connect with the author Joshua Watkins

Start your journey towards a better connected team