Hands off our stuff! Fraud & Loss prevention helps retailers fight back

Stealing a loaf of bread started a criminal career for Jean Valjean in ‘Les Miserables’ but these days retail fraud involves far more than stopping grocery items being pilfered and catching shoplifters.

bill-new-greyThe advent of chip and PIN technology a decade ago ushered in a major change in the pattern of retail fraud in the UK. With retailers becoming liable for card fraud losses in their stores, it ushered in a new generation of POS technology. Card fraud is now more likely to happen on line involving sophisticated hackers and brick and mortar stores are less likely to be targeted at the point of sale. Contactless cards offer fraud opportunities too but can only be used on transactions up to a certain value so their potential is limited.

Retail tagging is growing in adoption by retailers, with high value items being trapped and where practical locked in collars or cases which must be removed and deactivated. Store crime is as likely to involve store staff as criminals from outside. This adds to the need for such technologies as ID cards and face recognition systems for access to secure areas and the back of store.

Retail asset protection is at the heart of successful loss prevention policies. In a recent case a bread basket manufacturer brought successful legal action against a neighbouring business that was caught using its GPS-tagged baskets without permission. The fine of several hundred thousand pounds shows that the justice system does not view the matter lightly.

Pallets and returnable transit packaging each present opportunities for loss prevention. Pallets can be tagged, while RTP items such as crates with closable lids can be made tamper-evident, so interference with goods in the supply chain can be detected before they reach the store, with less chance of things “falling off the back of a lorry.”

In store, fridges and cabinets can be locked and opened by staff on request. Clip strips can offer as much of a security benefit as a promotional one by making the products highly visible to staff in the store. Increasing store staff’s vigilance is a good measure generally and more so in parts of the store with high value items such as personal care products and OTC medicines. Siting these in view of in store pharmacy counters or customer service desks can deter thieves. Another option is making high value purchases such as nonfood items only available as pay and collect, with goods purchased and retrieved at a service point in store.