June 22, 2016

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Retail Security

Retail Security: Current trends and future threats

Major changes in retail security are having a profound effect on the role of loss prevention.

Professor Martin Gill

Professor Martin Gill

Professor Martin Gill of Perpetuity Research who spoke to the managers of 12 retailers said one of the major problems was the rapid pace of change online which is making it very difficult for retailers to keep up with.

Another issue was space for stores becoming harder to find. He said: “Retailers are moving into different territories and some of those are dodgy territories crime-wise. So they are having to protect more stores in dodgy territories.”

When asked about the major challenges for the future there was one dominant answer: police withdrawing from the High Street. Prof Gill added: “The ability to rely on the police to respond to retailer requests seemed dependent on the area and knowing the right people.”

The overwhelming answer to the best method of preventing crime in store was people, mainly staff. “Everything flows back to good staff and training. The problem is there are a lot of part-time staff, young staff, a lot of staff turnover. There are a lot of people on low pay. So meaningfully engaging them is a real issue for the retail managers.”

Andy Martin, retail business development manager at Axis Communications claimed the rise in organised retail crime was one of the biggest challenges. “Without a strong definition of this problem there is not a true understanding of the component parts, making it difficult to map solutions.

“The innovative channels that are being created to serve customers is moving at a faster pace than the loss prevention teams can cope with, so we need to map that and support operation teams to reduce loss and shrinkage.”

Robert Verhulst from Bosch said organised retail crime is not just an external threat, it also involves people on the inside where criminals try to deal with ‘associates’ sent to work in retail in order to steal.

“A lot of retailers are struggling with this,” he said. “Also retailers need to understand where shrinkage is coming from so that they can take the right measures. I am absolutely convinced that technology plays a big role in this.”

Shaun Murphy the head of security at Clipfine Group, a supplier of security guards said shrinkage is emphasised by stores moving from the high street into shopping centres and then relying on them for their security. “Also retailers going online means they are cutting back on stores and therefore employing fewer security guards.”

He added: “There has not been enough emphasis in the retail sector in relation to security and a lot of security companies don’t emphasise the value of the guards.

“Sometimes I think that is because the loss prevention managers, those people responsible for security within the retail trade may not have sufficient clout in their organisation to push the case forward.”

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