Being a business owner can be stressful; not only do you have to worry about staffing and general operations, but you also have to deal with issues like shrinkage. Shrinkage can be a big problem for retailers, particularly in relation to retail theft. It can be very frustrating, when you’ve worked hard to build up your business, to have people steal from you. Shoplifting is a common issue that brick and mortar stores face. In fact, incidents of shoplifting in UK supermarkets rose by nearly 8% between 2014 and 2017, according to figures gathered by the Press Association (PA). But did you know that promoting good customer service could actually act as a deterrent for shoplifters? This article will discuss some of the ways your staff can employ good customer service to both improve customer experience and stop retail theft.
Under-staffing can be a big problem for retailers. Depending on the size of your shop, you may only need one employee to oversee all of it, or you may have a couple of different areas in your shop that need to be staffed. However, having only one employee in an area means they are open to being distracted. They may have to answer a customer query or may be purposely distracted by an accomplice. Another problem is that the area is empty if they go to the bathroom or go to get something from the storeroom.
Attentive & Engaged
Encourage your staff to be available and engage with customers on the floor. If you see a customer, you should ask if you can help them find something or if they need a hand with anything. Let them know you’ll be nearby if they need anything. This serves a dual purpose as it promotes excellent customer service, but also serves as a deterrent for prospective shoplifters, as they are aware staff are around watching. Encourage your staff to let security know if they see someone acting suspiciously, or if there is no security guard for your store or shopping centre, staff should follow the standard operating procedures that they have been trained in.
It’s important to train your staff in both customer service and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Employees should be taught how to approach a shoplifting situation if it occurs. They should know not to accuse customers of stealing, as if they are wrong the store can be sued. Also, before a customer has actually left the store premises, they aren’t guilty of stealing. Of course, the safety of your employees is also paramount, and following SOPs help to minimise danger for staff; as they know how to deal with situations without putting themselves at unnecessary risk. If a shoplifting situation does occur, staff should also know how to deal with the Gardaí afterwards.
It’s much easier to see if something is missing if the shop is tidy. Make sure employees pick things up off the floor and pull forward stock to fill the shelves. This may not seem like a customer service tip; but a clean and tidy shop makes for a much nicer shopping experience. It’s easier to find what you’re looking for if everything is in the right place; and it’s better if you don’t have to stretch to reach the very back of the shelf.
It’s not fair to fully rely on staff to prevent shoplifting. While they can act as a deterrent there are numerous other factors to consider. Some other factors to think about are layout and the security measures you have or could put in place. Having some sort of CCTV system in your store is definitely a good idea. It can not only help you to spot shoplifters but can help the Gardaí to catch the shoplifter and serve as evidence in Court. Having CCTV or security guards working for you can make your store much more secure but can also be expensive. If you need an influx of cash to help fund your staff training, or your security measures, you should consider GRID’s business loan. Its flexible repayments work with your credit/debit card machine so that your cash flow doesn’t become stretched.
Find out more about GRID's retail business loan here.