First, realize that most theft is internal. Stores that have loose policies on receiving goods, providing markdowns at the register and returning goods for cash or credit leave themselves open to employees who take advantage of the situation for their benefit or to benefit their family and friends. But in terms of preventing theft from people who enter and exit your main doors, here are five steps every shop keeper would take:
- Consider theft prevention part of the workload of your employees and schedule staff to adequately cover this duty. Whenever possible, avoid situations where only one person is in the store to watch the cash register and the door. Keep a minimum of two people in the selling area of the store. Assign one person to the front door as both a greeter and to look for signs of thievery. Greeting every person lets shoplifters know you are aware of their presence. Shoplifters will often wear large bulky clothing when it is too warm for such apparel, perhaps walk stiffly to conceal items and will appear to watch employees more than shop for goods. Simply asking to assist and keeping a vigilant eye on suspicious people will often send them out the door to an easier target down the street.
- Put high value, easy-to-steal items behind the counter or in a locked case. While making it more difficult to steal, realize it also makes it more difficult to sell. Since customers cannot help themselves to items or browse the goods, be sure to always station assistance nearby with instructions to offer to get products for any shoppers interested in making a purchase. Also, keep tempting items directly in front of counters where they are in full view of both cashiers and shoppers.
- A tidy store with good sight lines will help employees keep an eye on goods. Any blind corners should be eliminated or have a mirror to allow management to have full view of the area. Consider cameras at the front door at a minimum to allow police or others to see perpetrators should a crime occur. Keep signs about shoplifting and persecution visible at all entrances.
- Strictly monitor policies such as checking bags and packages brought into the store, requiring receipts for returns or refunds, destroying discarded receipts immediately and stapling or sealing bags after purchases to prevent other items from going into the bag after a small sale.
- Keep a watchful and friendly eye out for your neighbors. Shoplifters will move along a street or shopping area. Immediately let your neighbors know when you have had an incident and keep communication lines open to make your shopping district safer.