FRAUD & LOSS PREVENTION – Stop thief! Tackling store losses head on

Run! The iconic 1990s movie “Trainspotting” opens with Mark Renton, played by Ewan McGregor, being chased down an Edinburgh street, having stolen from CD shops to pay for his addiction, to the compelling beat of Iggy Pop’s classic Lust For Life.

chazThese days, in value terms anyway, the priority in retail fraud prevention is less about stopping thieves in their tracks and more about card fraud, as detailed on the Financial Fraud Action (FFA UK) website, a leading source of up to date information on card fraud on UK-issued credit and debit cards.

Shopping is now the UK’s largest consumer leisure activity, leading to an exponential rise in levels of retail crime. One man who knows about this subject is Professor Joshua Bamfield, Director of the Centre for Retail Research in Nottingham. The CRR provides authoritative and expert research and analysis of the retail and service sectors in Britain, Europe and globally. Its Global Retail Theft Barometer covers 43 countries.

“When Chip and PIN came in,” the Professor told The Grocery Trader, “it became much more difficult to commit card fraud. These days, criminals buy PIN data and stolen identities on line from black sites, and it takes skill to commit criminal fraud against retailers.”

But retail loss prevention isn’t solely about stopping fraud and theft. As Professor Bamfield points out, money handling is another major cost, hence in effect a cause of loss to the business. With an average shopper spend of £14 in a typical convenience store, there is an urgent need to implement contactless payments. Professor Bamfield believes the Co-op is the furthest along the line. “Contactless is like RFID used to be in retail. People were always talking about it at conferences, but doing nothing about it. There is a lot of potential to be realised.”

If you’d like to know more, Professor Bamfield’s book, “Shopping and Crime,” published by Palgrave Macmillan, draws on criminology, behavioral economics and marketing to help understand retail crime as a cultural phenomenon. According to the Palgrave Macmillan website, the book “analyses important new datasets on employee theft and shoplifting to show the nature of the problem, its origins and possible solutions. It explores crime prevention as a management issue, using criminomics, a new concept based on commercial realities rather than maximising arrests. This emphasises communications and persuasion within organisations, supported by a web of collaborative projects between retailers, police and other crime agencies.”

Stand by for the feature on Omnichannel Retailing in our May issue.