Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.
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March 2017 | HARDWARE RETAILING 55 Some Common Shoplifting Tactics Teach your employees to keep an eye out for some of these common shoplifting tactics: • Hiding smaller products inside larger products, and paying only for the larger product. • Pre-assembling products (such as fittings or fasteners) in an attempt to pay for just one item, rather than all pieces. • Holding one item in full view or leaving it in the bottom of the cart and "forgetting" to pay for it, while paying for all other items. • Working in groups to create a diversion or cause distraction so the shoplifting is less likely to be noticed. • Causing a distraction, such as faking a medical emergency or knocking over a display. • Asking an employee for a certain product not on the shelves, so the employee has to go to the back room to find that merchandise. "And, of course, nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and our employees," he says. "We don't want anyone to be put in what could be a dangerous situation. Nothing in the store is worth dying over." So how can a typical employee help with loss prevention? Clubb says all employees should stay watchful but not put themselves in any dangerous situations. "We ask them to note the date and time if they see something suspicious, and if they can get any descriptions of the alleged shoplifter, that's really helpful," he says. "Then we ask them to turn that information over to us, and we do our job. We don't want our team members to ever be at risk, so we have a zero-intervention policy. We just ask them to provide good customer service." There are definite liabilities to employees attempting to stop shoplifters. Many companies recognize these liabilities and, as a result, have policies in place that make it against company rules to attempt to stop someone who may have stolen something. In fact, this past December, four Home Depot employees in Florida were fired for their attempts to stop a shoplifter, as it is against Home Depot's store policy. Make sure you have a clear policy in place letting employees know what is and isn't OK when it comes to stopping a shoplifter. Perhaps employees are allowed to talk with the suspect in an attempt to gather information, but cannot follow the suspect to the parking lot or try to touch a piece of possibly stolen merchandise. Or maybe you'd prefer your employees not say anything to the suspect, but make observations about that person's appearance and behavior. Whatever your policy, put it in writing in your employee handbook and make sure all employees are aware of what is and isn't allowed. If an employee does something that goes against store policy, the store will most likely be held liable if the customer decides to pursue legal action if they are injured by employees or wrongfully detained by an employee who suspects shoplifting is at play. It's in your best interest, both for your business and for your employees, to make sure you clearly explain your store's policy so everyone will understand.