The self-service retail format is superior to the one where the customer is kept on the other side of the counter. When buyers are surrounded by products that they are free to touch and hold, they are likelier to buy. Allowing shoppers close to the merchandise can also result in losses to the retailer, though.

It’s not just about shoplifting

Not all merchandise lost at self-service retail stores is lost to theft. Out-of-control shopper behavior can result in losses too. Books get ripped and soiled, clothes get stretched out, cans and boxes get dinged and toys get broken. Some customers will be honest about what they’ve done and pay, others will not. Theft by employees is serious source of losses too, but this doesn’t often happen right on the shop floor. Workers could have access to storage areas.

Shoplifting is a whole other ballgame, and results in billions in losses across the retail industry. A retailer that succeeds in shutting down shoplifting altogether can expect a 5% improvement to its profits at the minimum.

Securing your retail business

In spite of the thousands that retailers suffer in lost merchandise, few do much to help themselves. While it might surprise most to hear it, a significant number of retailers have little security in the form of CCTV monitoring, RFID tags or in-store detectives. If your business does not take advantage of these technologies, you may feel that you’re in good company.

Commercial security systems

Investing these technologies, though, is hardly expensive. Most businesses on average will need to invest in them no more than a month’s worth of losses to shoplifters. Commercial security systems are not very expensive.

There’s a lot of work to do before you invest in technology

Stores can prevent theft simply by the use of clever layouts. Designing wide aisles, eliminating blind spots and asking salespersons to knowledge each customer who walks in, can all help. Many stores have achieved great results simply through prominent placement of antitheft signage, and the use of decoy cameras. Excellent lighting can help as well, as can cashiers who are trained to look out for tricks like tag switching. A floor detective can be a tremendous asset.

It takes nothing more than discreet, unobtrusive action to clamp down on shoplifting. If you’re successful, it can help your business in two ways. To begin, when there is less lost to theft, you will be able to lower your prices. With lowered prices, you will see sales rise.