It’s our instinct to turn to technology first, when solving a problem. However, when it comes to preventing theft in your store, low-tech solutions can be very effective. These low-cost and often free ideas can sometimes even require less employee training and resources.
Here are 6 low-tech ways to prevent theft in your store:
1. Put out the welcome mat. Shoplifters want to be anonymous and make as little contact with store employees as possible. One of the most effective ways to deter shoplifters is to greet every customer that walks into the store. “Don’t just shout “Good morning” over your shoulder, but make eye contact and greet customers like you are happy to see them,” says Chris McGoey, security expert and founder of Crime Doctor, a security firm. “Not only is it good customer service, a simple greeting can make potential shoplifters change their mind about stealing from your store because they know you can identify them.”
2. Be a neatnick. A telltale sign that your store is a victim of shoplifting can be empty space on your shelves. If your store is unorganized and messy then it is hard to quickly spot these red flags. “You want to keep all your merchandise “faced”, which means pulling your product to the edge of the shelf to create a solid wall of product,” says McGoey. “If someone sweeps the shelf, then it is easy to tell” that merchandise is missing.
3. Let there be light. Make sure that your store is adequately lit, especially if you are open at night. “Bad guys don’t like good lighting,” says Patrick Murphy, president of LPT Security Consulting. Murphy suggests you take a walk-through of your store during the day and night specifically to find dark, poorly lit areas, such as corners of the store or behind high shelves. He suggests that lighting be even across the store except where spotlights highlight product.
4. Plastic is your friend. Adding clear plastic shelf dividers at the edges of shelves can prevent thieves from sweeping a shelf while allowing customers to hand-select the items they need, says Bill Alford, president of International Lighthouse Group and member of the ASIS Loss Prevention committee. Alford also suggests clear locked plastic cases to enclose high-theft items such as printer cartridges or expensive health and beauty items. Just make sure to keep sales reps near these cases at all times so honest customers can comparison shop without too much hassle.
5. Have a secret code. Murphy recommends having a signal for employees to alert them of suspicious activities, such as “Liz, Pick up on line 3.” But since there is no employee named Liz and the store only has two telephone lines, the staff knows to pay careful attention to all actions customers make in the store. He suggests the signal be something easy to remember that does not identify a certain area of the store and make a customer feel targeted.
6. Keep a clear line of sight. Thieves are less likely to steal if an employee or other guest can easily see the crime happening. Murphy suggests using fixtures that allow for clear visibility. “Make sure you don’t create a hidden barrier,” says Murphy. “Your goal is to eliminate the opportunity by increasing visibility.”
Jennifer Goforth Gregory has over 18 years professional writing experience and specializes in writing about small businesses. Her work has been published MSN Money, FOX Business and the Intuit Small Business Blog and American Express OPEN Forum.