Benchmarking Loss Prevention

There is a new report out today which provides a view of the state of loss prevention from those who are in charge of it. Leading loss prevention managers have contributed to this report.

It shows that while organised crime is perceived to be a more significant problem now than in the past, the aggravating factor appears to be a strong view that the police are ever more neglectful of retailers. This problem is stoked by other trends such as a tendency to have fewer staff available on the shop floor (and thus less oversight of it); the speed with which retailers make moves in the market to gain a competitive edge without the time to assess the loss/security implications; and the growing practice of opening stores in difficult geographical areas. Against this background, margins in retailing were generally seen to be tight and it was becoming increasingly more difficult to get support for spending on loss prevention measures, although there were some notable successes.

Those interviewed generally (but not exclusively) felt they were doing a good job although for most there was room for improvement. Most felt they were supported by the Board but again there was often room for improvement here, and part of the difficulty was that loss prevention was typically distanced from the Board. Moreover, while most were judged at least in part (although often in large part) on loss figures it was noted that this was not something over which they had complete control. Resources were seen as tight and this was sometimes a limitation interviewees said they had to work within. It was seen as difficult to compare performance because figures on shrink were deemed unreliable; it certainly complicated comparisons. Some retailers are moving to ‘Total Loss’, and this is creating a slight change in focus.

Guards were seen to have a use in responding to problems and in providing a visible deterrent but some pointed to lower losses even when guards were taken out of stores. Likewise CCTV was sometimes seen as an essential part of a strategy but others pointed to out of date technology and cameras not being used to their full potential even when present. EAS was sometimes seen as effective against opportunists in particular but also as a poor relation to RFID although for the most part the jury was out on this when assessed in terms of theft prevention rather than stock management. In short, all security measures were seen as good by some and not by others.

That said, the favoured crime prevention tool was most often staff; offering both a visible presence and an opportunity to prevent thefts and intervene when necessary. Going forward there is likely to be a greater use of data and linking different databases to inform loss prevention approaches. There were mixed views of both civil recovery schemes and the usefulness of crime partnerships. It was not so much that when done well they were not both praised, they were. Rather it was the case that often practice did not match the potential to influence loss reduction.  This was the cause of some anxiety and highlights areas where there are opportunities for improvement.

Those working in loss prevention claimed to generate ideas and insights from each other, and there was willingness to work with others potentially pooling resources where appropriate, to improve the loss prevention lot. While some lamented that loss prevention has not raised its game sufficiently others saw potential via greater use of data and intelligence, better use of technologies, more effective engagement from front line staff and via – in certain circumstances – sharing resources to increase their future impact. 

You can download the full report below.

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