From Home Furnishing Business
Security Unplugged: Practical, Low-Cost Protection for Your Store
By Home Furnishings Business in Furniture Retailing on March 2007
While covering the latest and greatest technological advances in retail and shipping security (see Mission Possible: Thwarting Thieves Through Technology on pg. 35), it occurred to me that such products may not fit into every retailers budget.
Sure, we all want to have the latest and greatest technical toys out there. Who wouldnt? And if they prevent losses caused by products springing feet and walking out of your store, such measures are a good investment. But high-tech gizmos may be an investment some stores cant afford.
Heres where my past experience as editor of a biweekly newsletter for inventory managers comes into play. In that role, I was able to talk to a number of warehouse people and learn from their experience of theft prevention methods that cost little or nothing at all. Id like to pass on some of these lessons learned to you.
Watching Out for the Signs
You trust your staff, and with good reason. But unfortunately, its a sad fact that a lot of retail robberies are inside jobs. One of the most common scams involves staffers working with truckers to move stolen items out, sneaking them into trucks, hoping irregular quantities wont be noticed, and gathering the loot once its outside the facility.
To avoid this, you could start doing occasional spot checks of loads just before delivery trucks pull away from your store. Look out for unusual cartons or loose items that dont belong.
Another way workers could try to get items out of your store is to throw them in a trash bin near an exit and retrieve them later for a quick getaway.
The solution is simple: move the trash bins away from your exits. If thats not feasible, inspect the bins regularly, and make sure employees are aware that you do.
Another solution to the problem of in-house theft is an approach called layered security.
This concept centers on implementing a chain of security measures at different points in your operation.
These layers include:
¢ designating one worker who oversees every shipment through each stage of shipping, from picking to packing, and can vouch for its contents.
¢ tracking the movement of cartons through your stores shipping operation by scanning bar codes or having workers record label info in your computer system
¢ checking all packages one last time before they leave your store
¢ tracking shipments through to their final destination through your system, the Internet or other means.
The common theme of these strategies is awarenessidentifying the signs of theft, watching out for them, and taking steps to eliminate them.
Is This Thing On?
Of course, the best way to truly keep an eye out for signs of stealing, either by staff or visitors to your store, is through the use of security cameras. In Mission Possible, we document a number of new-age digital security cams that (lets face it) are looking more and more like the stuff Q passed on to James Bond in the movies.
But what if you dont have the bank for that kind of equipment? One warehouse manager I spoke with had success with a tactic that cost virtually nothing. He set up dummy cameras, using old security cams no one was using. They werent hooked up to the system, just mounted on the wall.
The dummies worked wonders. Apparently his co-workers got the idea they were being watched (even though they werent), and probably thought twice before taking anything. This same idea can be applied in your store. Even if you cant afford to activate security cameras, they can still deter potential thieves.
With some exceptions (particularly in the case of hidden cameras), security measures are usually most effective when people are aware of them, either through word-of-mouth, store and facility signage, or simply by seeing a camera on the wall (whether it works or not). Creating awareness that youre taking steps to prevent robbery can be just as important as the steps you actually take. And that can truly pay off in terms of more furniture in your store and less lost to the unscrupulous few who think they wont notice if ones missing.
Let em know the lights are on and somebodys homeyou will