Leaders across all industries are focused on reducing shrinkage today. Margins are tighter than ever, and asset protection strategies need to adapt to a new generation of threats. Here are some loss prevention tips that you can implement today.
To see how Solink can be your loss prevention system, sign up for a demo today.
Here is a basic definition of loss prevention.
Loss prevention, sometimes called asset protection, is an organized effort by a business to reduce shrinkage. While it is often focused on theft, loss prevention can encompass the reduction in wastage, slip-and-falls and other potential liability issues, and errors such as discount stacking or ordering mistakes.
Types of loss
As mentioned above, while theft is often the main focus of loss prevention strategies, there are many other types of loss. Even within theft, it’s important to differentiate between internal theft and external theft, blunt theft of cash or inventory and discount abuse, and individual shoplifters and organized retail crime (ORC).
Here are some of the main types of loss targeted by asset protection:
- Point of sale (POS) theft, including under ringing, discount abuse, and return fraud
- Supplier fraud or error, such as did not receive everything on the shipping manifest
- Liability due to slip-and-fall injuries, violence, and disruptive behavior
- Administrative errors, including incorrectly labeled prices
- Damaged inventory or spoilage
- Organized retail crime (ORC)
- Ordering errors
- Employee theft
64 loss prevention tips
To make this list easier to understand, we’ve separated the loss prevention tips into different categories. However, many of these asset protection tips are applicable to more than one category.
- Retail shops
- Convenience stores
By equipment and hardware:
- Security infrastructure
- Video surveillance software
Retail loss prevention tips
1. Perform regular inventory counts
Both planned and unplanned inventory counts help you keep track of your merchandise. When you only perform inventory counts once a year, you may have no idea how much theft has occurred, when it happened, or whether it was shoplifting or employee theft.
By counting inventory more often, there’s a better chance that you can find video evidence of the theft. This does two things. First, you might be able to recover some of the stolen property. Second, it makes people think they’ll get caught, collapsing the theft triangle.
2. Have two people check all shipping manifests
Having two people check each item on a shipping manifest does two things. First, it makes it more likely that any missing merchandise will be noticed. Second, it makes it less likely that one of your employees will collude with the vendor to systematically steal from your business.
3. Schedule strategically
There should always be ample staff on hand to keep your store safe. Be sure to also pair different people together so it becomes harder for any two employees to work together to steal from you. It’s also important that you have at least two people counting cash and doing other sensitive tasks.
4. Take security measures
We’ll get into what each security measure does below, but at a high level, you need a complete loss prevention system. This includes high-tech measures such as security cameras and video analytics, as well as basic security measures that have existed for hundreds of years such as mirrors to improve visibility.
5. Hang anti-theft signs
There are two places you want to hang anti-theft signs: employee-only areas and the store floor. The employee-only areas should have signs that encourage employees to let you know if they see theft.
The ones in public areas are meant to dissuade shoplifting. A sign by the front door or next to a TV displaying live CCTV video surveillance footage of patrons as they enter your store can be very effective. You should add anti-theft signage around self-checkouts as well.
6. Keep your store organized
Disorganized shelves make it harder to see if an item is missing. You should be able to quickly notice missing items to follow-up with staff on whether they’ve been sold or taken. Not only does a clean store help prevent shoplifting, it also makes your business inviting to potential customers.
7. Monitor loss trends
Keeping an eye on your loss trends helps you benchmark how you are doing, which loss prevention tactics are working, and which ones could be stopped. Since asset protection budgets are limited, you want to double down on effective loss prevention strategies while pulling back on the ones that don’t seem to be effective.
Monitoring your loss trends has another function. If you have key people in your organization stealing from you, then it’s possible that they can go unnoticed for months or even years. A comptroller might be able to embezzle millions of dollars from a large organization before being caught. If you don’t track your loss trends, then these major thefts might never be found.
8. Be adaptive
The forms of theft are changing. Organized retail crime (ORC) has been growing in prevalence over the last decade. The way you combat ORC events is not the same as how you handle individual shoplifters. It’s important to keep up to date on the latest trends in loss prevention to know how to react to these new threats.
9. Utilize both proactive and reactive approaches
Loss prevention requires both proactive and reactive approaches. Proactive planning and preparation reduce the chances of theft. Reactive approaches help you uncover theft when it does occur.
10. Use the hot concept
The hot concept states that theft is more likely to occur during certain processes, for example the delivery of merchandise or during cash returns, or involve specific products, such as expensive razors.
By pinpointing the “hot” processes, products, and locations in your business, you can focus efforts on the highest risk areas.
11. Use a Greeter
This is one of many retail loss prevention tips that is both good for sales and prevents shoplifting. Greeting customers lets them know you are there to help if they need it and makes your store friendly and welcoming. However, it also lets would-be shoplifters know that you are keeping an eye on them.
Even if you don’t have the floorspace and workforce to justify a dedicated greeter, having the person working the point of sale (POS) greet every customer as they enter the store accomplishes the same goal.
12. Focus on good customer service
Shoplifters work in secret. They are waiting for a clear aisle or corner to stuff merchandise into their pockets or bag. Being helpful and engaging means that shoplifters lose that opportunity.
13. Have associates walk the sales floor
When your store is clean, visitors are engaged, and everything is tidy, staff might think it’s safe to take out their phones. However, even then it is worth having associates walk down the aisles and make sure nothing is amiss. This added professionalism even during the down periods keeps everyone vigilant.
14. Think about the sight lines on the sales floor
Can you see the corners of your store from the POS? Are you able to view all of the high-value items when walking from the back room to the front doors? Keeping the valuable items visible from most of the store will reduce the chances to steal them.
In the back room, stacking boxes in a way that keeps one side of the storage area visible from the other side can reduce the likelihood of an employee stealing merchandise.
Think about the sight lines of your cameras as well. Solink provides automatic health checks to make sure all of your cameras are online and no one has blocked the view.
To see how Solink keeps an eye on your store, sign up for a demo today.
15. Limit item quantity on sales floor
If you have the storage area available in the back of your store, then you don’t need to put all of your inventory out front. For example, if you have 10 pairs of jeans in each size, placing just one of each size on the sales floor is enough. It might even lead to people buying the last pair thanks to FOMO (fear of missing out).
16. Hire honest employees
This isn’t easy. It’s even harder today with labor shortages. However, you can improve your odds of hiring honest employees by asking questions about their cash-handling experience, checking references, and doing background checks.
17. Train employees to stay honest
Part of loss prevention onboarding is a frank talk about employee theft. However, this is not enough. First, you need to keep the discussion going in every staff meeting so employees know you take theft seriously. Second, showing off your Solink platform can show employees that they will be caught without accusing them of dishonesty.
18. Keep any eye on your store’s surroundings
Is there a car parked illegally outside? Are there people our front loitering? Sometimes the signs of an organized retail crime (ORC) raid begin minutes before the incident starts. Learn the signs of an impending threat and expand your loss prevention strategy to the area outside your store.
19. Control fitting rooms
Lock the fitting rooms so patrons need to request access. Consider limiting the number of items allowed in the fitting room at once, or count them as they enter and exit.
20. Use security guards
If you are operating in a high crime neighborhood, you may require live security guards. Remote guarding is another option that can reduce costs with equal or better results.
21. Have modern loss prevention materials and signage
If you have a person in handcuffs on your employee theft signage, it might be time to replace them. The goal isn’t to scare your employees into not stealing. It’s to encourage them to let you know when they see theft. This leads to the next loss prevention tip.
22. Confidential tip line with rewards
Along with friendlier signage, set up a way to confidentially alert management about possible employee theft. In larger organizations, make sure these tips skip the local store managers and go directly to head office. Consider offering rewards such as gift cards or cash when someone sends in a tip.
23. Keep unused doors locked
Backdoors, employee doors, and emergency exits should remain locked at all times when not in use. These are all ways that merchandise could leave the store if not properly secured.
24. Monitor the dumpster and garbage procedures
There is an old internal theft trick to “double bag” the garbage can. Employees put one garbage bag on the can, place merchandise in the bag, and then put a second bag in the can that is then used for waste. Once outside, the second bag with merchandise can be brought to the employee’s car while the other is placed in the dumpster.
A camera on the dumpster and another on the area where garbage bags are placed in cans can help prevent this.
25. Perform bag checks on everyone
Nobody likes their privacy violated, and a nightly bag check can feel like an accusation. By having the manager’s bag checked first every night, employees will feel less violated or accused.
26. Have managers sign off on high-risk transactions
Managers should sign off on all high-risk transactions such as voids and cash returns. This prevents POS employee theft as well as scammers who steal items to return them later.
To see how Solink automatically pairs your high-risk transactions with video, sign up for a demo today.
27. Have two people open and close
The store should only be entered once two people, including one manager, are present. Similarly, at the end of the night, the store should never be left attended by only one person.
28. Have two people minimum around open cash
Cash should never be counted by a single person. The safe should never be opened by one person either. Whenever cash is freely moving in your business, there should be at least two people present.
29. Audit for compliance
Loss prevention requires consistency and persistence. When things get busy or the manager is on holidays, staff needs to keep following the same procedures. This doesn’t always happen and can lead to security gaps. Routine loss prevention audits can help prevent these lapses.
To see what Solink’s complimentary loss prevention audit can do for you, sign up for a demo today.
Restaurant loss prevention tips
While many of the retail loss prevention tips above are usable by restaurants, bars and restaurants also have many specific issues. Here are 12 actionable restaurants loss prevention tips.
30. Organize your safe
It’s important to keep a restaurant’s safe organized. While that’s true for retail stores as well, bars and restaurants tend to handle more cash, with servers often making change at the table. This makes it especially important for bars and restaurants to organize their safe with loss prevention in mind.
31. Date all inventory and follow first in, first out (FIFO) inventory management
When boxes are delivered to the store, date the inventory boxes in large lettering and rotate older ingredients forward. Even canned goods have expiration dates, and instituting strict FIFO controls throughout the kitchen creates a culture that will lead to less wastage.
32. Make the free meal policy clear
Free meals during shifts can quickly lead to free meals and drinks all the time, and from there free meals for friends and family. This is unacceptable and will lead to lost margins. This is called sweethearting, which is one form of discount abuse.
A clear free meal policy for employees, communicated regularly, can reduce the risk of discount abuse.
33. Give staff fair pay and benefits
When staff feel like they aren’t paid a fair wage, they will feel they are able to justify theft from their employer. This is one side of the theft triangle. Giving staff fair wages and benefits will make them feel ownership in your business, reducing their tendency to steal from work.
34. Define Your cash handling policy
Clearly write out your cash handling policy, have employees sign it as part of onboarding, and remind them of this policy regularly. Cash theft is especially prevalent in restaurants and bars, so extra vigilance in these businesses is warranted.
35. Lock down your POS
Most modern POS systems include different user levels. Digging deep into these security measures so employees cannot perform high-risk transactions on their own can help prevent theft at the POS.
Access control systems and Solink offer a similar ability to create different user types and permissions, and it is recommended that you do this for all of your systems.
36. Monitor employee performance
If one of your employees is selling less than the others consistently, then that can be an indication of theft. It might mean they are pocketing cash from some of their tables, which is why their sales numbers are down.
Alternatively, it could be an indication of time theft. Long breaks, late starts, and leaving before close regularly adds up to lower sales. Keeping an eye on time theft is another part of asset protection.
37. Review your POS reports
Tracking your loss prevention trends on the POS, as mentioned above, gives you more timely knowledge about theft. Solink pairs video to every transaction, so you can review what actually happened.
For example, you can look for all tables that were open for more than two hours to see if someone was using an open table to double drop items and then pocket the difference.
To see how Solink gives you visibility into your POS reports, sign up for a demo today.
38. Implement proper inventory tracking
Pocketed cash can show up later when the inventory is missing. An order of wings or an extra pizza might not be missed in the expected revenue on a Friday night. However, if an employee is pocketing the cash from two orders of wings a night over a couple of months, then there will be several fewer boxes in the walk-in than there should be.
Just like retail locations should be doing inventory regularly, restaurants should be counting their stock regularly, and without notice, to find this type of employee theft.
39. Reevaluate your bookkeeping practices
Since bars and restaurants take in a lot more cash than many other businesses, there is the possibility of large-scale fraud when doing bookkeeping. Having an outside accountant perform basic bookkeeping alongside the manager can prevent this from happening.
40. Upgrade your security procedures and technology
Review all of your security procedures on a regular basis and consider whether there are any gaps.
For example, are your staff instructed to pursue people who dine and dash? If so, then you should consider changing your policies to protect your staff. The potential for violence has risen over the last five years, and losing the cost of a single meal is a lot better than seeing one of your employees injured, or worse.
Similarly, when was the last time you reviewed your security infrastructure? It’s possible that some of your security cameras aren’t working properly or your different systems aren’t integrated yet.
41. Be an approachable manager
If you are an unapproachable or unpleasant manager, then staff will not feel comfortable coming to you with issues. This could lead to honest employees turning a blind eye to other employees stealing from you.
Warehouse loss prevention tips
Warehouses are usually closed to the public. Unlike restaurant or retail loss prevention tips, warehouse asset protection strategies are focused on preventing employee theft and damaged or lost merchandise. Here are seven warehouse loss prevention tips.
42. Keep workspaces clear and uncluttered
Clear and uncluttered workstations make it less likely that merchandise will be lost, damaged, or stolen. Scheduling employees with enough flextime to maintain a clean workspace can help reduce loss in your warehouse.
43. Install protective barriers
Safety barriers, such as guardrails, safety gates, and rack guards, can keep your inventory and employees safe from common industrial accidents such as forklift accidents.
44. Wire cages and partitions
The value of different types of merchandise should dictate the physical security measures in place to protect them. Even within a warehouse environment, placing expensive inventory inside cages is a prudent loss prevention strategy.
45. Implement access controls
Traditional access controls lock off the building outside of work hours and force employees to use their ID badge upon entrance and exit. Similarly, access to warehouse cages or the loading dock can be controlled.
To go beyond this, Solink Video Alarms Monitoring Service allows time- and area-based access control. Management can be notified immediately when employees are not where they should be. This can reduce theft and accidents in your warehouse.
To see how Solink Video Alarms can help protect your warehouse, sign up for a demo today.
46. Set up varying permission levels for different employees
Access control measures and security cages will do little if all employees have the same permissions. Take the time to set up different permission levels for different employees to make sure only authorized personnel have access to your merchandise.
It could also be worth varying the color of hard helmets, ID badges, etc. so that it is easier to pick out unauthorized access in video surveillance footage.
47. Safety mirrors
Mirrors are valuable in many different businesses as part of a loss prevention strategy. In the case of warehouses, it’s more about damage prevention and employee safety.
Forklift drivers need to be able to see around corners to watch out for fellow employees or merchandise left on the floor. Similarly, employees need to be able to see whether a forklift is coming.
48. Proper illumination
Proper lighting will make it harder for employees to steal in your warehouse. It’ll also make it less likely employees will accidentally damage merchandise. Finally, proper lighting will improve the quality of video surveillance footage so that incidents can be resolved.
Convenience store loss prevention tips
What most distinguishes a convenience store from other retail locations is the size. It’s rare for an isolated retail store to only have one person working, while convenience stores often have a single employee on duty.
In addition, convenience stores are often the target of more criminal activity, especially when they operate 24/7 and take in large amounts of cash from the sale of gas, lottery tickets, tobacco, and alcoholic beverages.
49. Limit the number of shoppers in store
All retail businesses need to balance their asset protection strategies with being an open and inviting store to attract customers. However, when a single person is working at a convenience store, for safety reasons, it can be prudent to limit the number of patrons allowed indoors at one time.
Solink can help with this by turning your existing cameras into footfall-counting technology.
To see how Solink can protect your convenience store, sign up for a demo today.
50. Cameras and mirrors
Just as retail stores need to think about their sight lines, so do convenience stores. However, the narrow aisles and smaller footprint can make this difficult. The store layout can only be modified so much.
Convex mirrors in the corners of a convenience store can make it harder for shoplifters to find a hidden area to put items into their pockets. Similarly, CCTV security cameras can be positioned to provide a real-time stream to monitors by the POS.
51. Put signs on the door
Put signs on the door that show your convenience store is protected by a video surveillance system. Here’s an example sticker that ships with every Solink system:
52. Minimize the cash in the POS and safe
The cash register doesn’t need more money than is required to make change. Whenever the store experiences a lull, instruct employees to lock the front door and transfer any excess cash to the safe. Alternatively, use a smart safe so all cash fed into the POS is automatically transferred to a safe.
Then, schedule regular armored vehicle pickups. Depending on how busy your store is, multiple pickups per day might be necessary to minimize the risk of armed robberies.
53. Store layout
The small footprint of convenience stores makes it difficult to change the layout with loss prevention in mind. However, it’s still possible to take some precautions.
For example, put expensive items, such as bottles of liquor, behind the counter. Set up the aisles and back wall fridges so that the fridge doors open mid-aisle so you can see what is being removed. Place smaller, easier to conceal items nearer the front so employees can see if they are placed in a pocket.
54. Implement controls in all of your daily processes
Trend analysis, POS reporting, periodic inventory counts, double-checking all shipping manifests, and pairing these events with video are all ways to add control to your daily processes.
To see how Solink makes it easier to see what is happening in your business, sign up for a demo today.
Here are six loss prevention tips focused on your physical security infrastructure.
55. Use security cameras
The first components of a security system purchased by most businesses are cameras. Security cameras provide proactive deterrence and reactive recourse to internal and external theft.
56. Install an access control system
Here is a basic definition of access control:
Access control can prevent people from entering your building without proper identification, keep customers out of the storage area, restrict access to lockers to the manager, and more.
Different layers of access control can be used to prevent both internal and external theft.
57. Use an intrusion detection system
Here’s a basic definition of intrusion detection:
Intrusion detection systems such as video alarms can be used to prevent theft while a business is closed.
58. Physical deterrent devices
Physical deterrent devices come in a variety of styles. The lowest tech physical deterrent device is a locked case. For example, many pharmacies keep razors under lock and key. An alternative version is an unlocked flap that sounds a buzzer when opened so patrons are free to take items on their own, but staff is aware that someone is accessing a shelf with products that are regularly taken.
The next most common physical deterrent device is tamper-proof packaging. These are designed to make small and expensive items too big to place in a pocket. As an example, some stores place Blu-ray discs inside of much larger transparent plastic boxes.
The last physical deterrent device type, sensor-equipped devices (EAS), warrants its own loss prevention tip.
59. EAS loss prevention systems
There are many different kinds of EAS systems, from locks installed on clothing that are removed after purchase, to single-use RFID stickers that are deactivated when scanned through the POS.
These systems are paired with a gate or scanner by exits that trigger an alarm if they leave the store before being removed or deactivated. EAS systems can also be incorporated into other physical deterrent systems, for example inside tamper-proof packaging, to improve the loss prevention value of both.
60. Integrated POS
Solink integrates with most modern POS systems on the market today. POS systems also integrate with scheduling, accounting, marketing, and more software packages. Picking an integrated POS platform and connecting all of your systems makes it harder for employees to steal from your business.
Solink gives you eyes on all the high-risk transactions so you can confirm that procedures are being followed. Similarly, integrating your accounting software will make it harder for fraud to occur during the bookkeeping process.
To see how Solink pairs video with transactions on your POS, sign up for a demo today.
Video surveillance software
Security cameras are great, but if you can’t access and share needed video footage in a timely manner, then you won’t end up using the cameras much. Here are four loss prevention tips that can be accomplished with your video surveillance software.
61. Cloud first video surveillance
Cloud video surveillance brings new capabilities to physical security systems. Connecting your security cameras, POS system, access control, and more to Solink, you unlock new insights into your data.
We’ll go through a few of the best features made available by using cloud video surveillance as part of your loss prevention software solution below.
Remote video monitoring is enabled by a cloud video surveillance solution. This lets you keep track of what is happening in your business from anywhere in the world. It also means that you can perform quick loss prevention audits on hundreds of stores at once, making in-person visits to all of your locations less necessary.
63. Use case management software (CMS)
Here’s a basic definition of case management:
By using a CMS, you can keep all of your video evidence in one place. This makes it easier and faster to build theft cases and ensures you have the evidence you need to reach an acceptable resolution.
64. Make sure your video management software (VMS) has all necessary features
A full-feature VMS can help track down hard to find theft and fraud. Here are some tools in the Solink platform that can help with your loss prevention strategy.
Whether you want to be alerted to dips in sales, slow movement through the drive-thru, or movement on a loading dock that is supposed to be closed for the day, Solink can proactively notify you of issues before they get out of control.
Solink’s Camera Linking automatically creates associations between cameras by detecting motion patterns across adjacent cameras. When reviewing footage in Solink’s video player, you can navigate from one camera to another intuitively without prior knowledge of the site’s layout. This makes it easy to track a suspected shoplifter through the store.
Save & Share
Being able to save and share video footage directly from the Solink platform is helpful when incidents occur. Once video documentation of an event is found, it can be saved indefinitely and shared with all stakeholders, including the police, attorneys, members of staff, and government officials.
Motion Search eliminates the need to fast forward through hours of video footage. Solink automatically shows you all video clips in an area of interest where there is movement.
The Solink Dashboard shows you all of the data you need to see. The Customer Success Team sets it up with the specific graphs and feeds you find important. It is fully customizable to fit the needs of each customer. You can track sales or make it easy to review every high-risk transaction.
Exception-based reporting (EBR)
Exceptions are anomalies in your data. Exception-based reporting (EBR) can help you uncover different forms of theft. For example, if you notice that employee discounts spike at the same time each week, then you can use Solink to review those transactions to make sure certain staff members aren’t using their discounts for friends and family.
Events-based reporting allows you to search for videos that meet specific criteria. For example, you can find all videos attached to discounted invoices or returns.
On the one hand, you can find employees who might be abusing their discount. On the other hand, you can see which employees are really helping customers and upselling them with more products.
To see how Solink combines CMS, VMS, and EBR software in one platform, sign up for a demo today.
Solink is the best loss prevention software
Solink provides all of the tools you need to support your asset protection strategies. Matching video with high-risk transactions from your POS and motion events, you gain new insights into what is happening in your business.
To see how Solink can support your loss prevention system, sign up for a demo today.
Timothy Ware is Solink’s Content Manager. He brings over ten years of writing and editing experience to the job. When he isn’t writing about security, loss prevention, and asset protection, he’s enjoying his newest board game. His work has appeared on many B2B SaaS websites including Baremetrics, Security Today, TeamPassword, Cova, and SignTime.