In order to improve life on the shop floor, we have to understand the challenges that associates are facing. That’s why we recently commissioned a huge survey covering three countries and over 1,000 associates. Of all the problems reported, one loomed especially large- in-store theft.
Shoplifting doesn’t just cost you money. It also affects morale by making associates afraid to go to work.
This is a bad situation for everyone, but help is at hand. By improving in-store communication, you can empower associates to stand up to shoplifters without putting themselves at risk. Here’s how it works.
The cost of shoplifting isn’t just financial
Theft is a perennial problem for retailers. Security technology may have grown more sophisticated in recent years, but thieves have always found a way around it:
- North American stores lose over $13 billion a year to shoplifters
- Many stores now lose up to 3% of their total sales to thieves
- Shoplifting accounts for over a third of lost inventory in North American stores
These are significant losses, and they are likely to get worse. Shoplifting rose by 34% in the wake of the 2008 recession as thousands were forced to steal out of desperation. With inflation currently running at over 8%, a similar spike in theft seems likely.
This is an expensive problem for stores, but money is only part of the story. In order to gauge the true cost of theft, we must also consider its effect on associate morale. There are more than 80,000 assaults a year in retail stores, and these incidents often stem from attempts to intervene in shoplifting incidents.
Unsurprisingly, this has left many associates fearing for their safety. We recently surveyed 1,000 associates and 250 decision makers about the challenges they face at work. The results showed that security is a major concern:
- 18% of associates consider shoplifting to be the biggest challenge on the shop floor.
- 12% say that abusive customers are the biggest problem they face
Associates understand the importance of communication:
The results of our survey also hinted at the reasons for these feelings. Many stores are still understaffed, and this makes it easy for shoplifters to go unnoticed. 40% of associates say that a lack of staff is their biggest challenge, and this rises to 64% in the entertainment sector. This is especially worrying when you consider the potential for big-ticket theft in this area.
With fewer associates in store, retailers need to find other ways to tackle the problem. You can’t outnumber the shoplifters, but you can outwit them. This is where smart technology can help. When it comes to stopping crime, both associates and decision makers agree that tech is the way forward:
- A third of decision makers believe that smart technology can be used to improve associate safety
- Over a quarter believe that smart tech deters theft
- 36% of associates would like to see more smart tech in stores
Associates are also clear about the kind of technology they want. 32% say that portable communication devices would be the biggest help on the shop floor. This is where VoCoVo comes in.
Leveling the playing field
Associates are rushed off their feet at the moment, and thieves are taking advantage. Our system improves communication so that shoplifters have nowhere to hide:
- Headsets allow associates to alert the security team to a shoplifting incident without having to track them down. Unlike a tannoy announcement, these messages are completely discreet. This means that associates can raise the alarm without putting themselves in danger.
- Headsets act as a visible deterrent to shoplifters. Would-be thieves can see that your team is connected, making stealing seem like a riskier choice.
- Our notification API lets you link headsets to smart CCTV cameras. Cameras can send an automated warning to associates as soon as they spot something suspicious.
Case study: Dunelm
We’ve installed our system in enough stores to know that it has a dramatic effect on both shoplifting and associate wellbeing. One of our biggest success stories has been our work with British homeware retailer Dunelm.
We installed a brand new security system across 173 of the company’s stores. This included a feature that allowed associates to trigger a store-wide security announcement from their headsets. This made a big difference, as Dunelm’s head of loss prevention Martin Dunn explains:
“The safety of our employees and customers is our number one priority, and so enabling colleagues to trigger an announcement when there may be a threat is fantastic. So far, the feedback from stores has been hugely positive and, on hearing the announcement, we’ve seen many incidents of would-be shoplifters leaving the store empty-handed without needing to be confronted by in-store teams.”
Thieves have had the upper hand for too long. With VoCoVo on your side, you can take back control. Read our latest report to find out more.