Recent times have see an unfortunate rise in shoplifting and “blatant theft” across local supermarkets and retail operations. Australia’s major supermarket chains recorded an annual rise of 20% in stock loss over the last year, and – what’s worse – this number could be (and probably is) a lot higher due to unreported and unidentified cases.
This trend has been attributed to a rise in cash-strained shoppers who are struggling through the current cost of living crisis. Recent reports have also focused on the issue of organised crime and the “theft ladder” involving two, sometimes more, people who steal to resell the products for a profit. Sadly, desperate and vulnerable Aussies are becoming intertwined in these criminal arrangements, whereby they are paid and given a shopping list and are forced to steal the listed goods. The amount can vary between a couple hundred dollars payment, or in other cases, drugs.
Common strategies being used by criminals include not scanning items through the self-serve registers, labelling certain items as another to avoid a higher price, the obvious hiding items under pieces of clothing and – in some cases- blatantly just walking out with a trolley full of product.
The items these criminals are most eager for are red meat as well as other expensive products. The Australian Retailers Association [ARA] states that the size of the stock loss problem is somewhere between 2 to 3% of total retail sales. These numbers put a larger strain on the profits of these businesses which inevitably leads to price rises.
In moves to prevent stock loss and minimise criminal behaviour, Woolworths has used Auror’s retail crime intelligence platform since 2020; these systems identify known shoplifters as well as people who have shown aggression to staff members in the past. Coles has recently trialled the trolley locking system to prevent shoplifters leaving the store without paying. They also use the more standard security gates and CCTV in stores.
So what can you do to reduce your risk of stock loss? Some initiatives to consider include:
1. Learning behavioral indicators and training your staff to recognise them: learning and being able to recognise behavioral indicators with suspicious behaviours and body language, as well as non-verbal cues shown by these potential shoplifters can make a significant difference. Training your staff to pick up on such indicators and structuring your in-store customer service approach accordingly can not only minimise your stock loss but also empower your staff team.
2. Implement Shoplifting Awareness signage: clearly displaying the systems you have in place on your premises to stop shoplifting, as well as the consequences of any criminal actions, shows individuals who may be inclined to steal that your business has processes in place to make their planned theft more difficult than they hoped and ultimately deter them.
3. Covert Surveillance and Cameras: whilst it seems the obvious solution and does indeed come with a cost, engaging the services of a professional security company and/or installing security cameras can be a wise investment which ultimately saves your business money. Whether it’s security cameras, a security guard or placing undercover security personnel in-store to monitor suspecter individuals while they are moving about the store, taking a moment to consider your security needs and implementing some measures can make a genuine difference to your bottom line through the minimisation of stock loss.
As always, the team at Excell Security is here to help with your security needs. Contact us today to discuss how we can protect what matters to you.