Pretty soon consumers will be humming festive tunes as the holiday period gets closer. For some retailers, the prep seems to begin immediately after the holiday period ends. There’s lots to do when it comes to making sure plans are in place for a safe and profitable season. A key element of success hinges on hiring the right seasonal staff and training them well in advance, as retailers incur losses around the holiday period that can affect the entire year. All the more reason why Loss Prevention (LP) tasks need to move to the top of the holiday prep list.
From an LP perspective, the fast-paced holiday season can be overwhelming for store associates. Shrink during the holiday period can bring a whole new set of challenges as huge amounts of merchandise are purchased via multiple channels and touchpoints, and stores are filled with the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers. In fact, the 10 busiest shopping days of the 2018 holiday season account for nearly 45% of the season’s total traffic, according to ShopperTrak.
One of a retailer’s greatest assets is their store associates. They play a major role in being the best brand ambassadors while helping to prevent losses within store locations. Having store associates who are properly trained, prepared and aware of how to respond to the increase in holiday traffic can help boost conversions and safeguard what matters most.
According to the 2018 Sensormatic Global Shrink Index, shrink cost retailers nearly $100 billion globally last year and a significant portion of that loss may occur during the busy holiday season. Additional findings revealed that external theft and fraud, including organised retail crime (ORC), is the biggest source of shrink worldwide, accounting for one-third of total shrink. This data underscores the reason why store employees can serve as the greatest assets during this most important season of the year.
The following 10-point checklist of the key areas related to LP can help employers and store associates be well prepped for the holiday season:
Explain the financial rewards of the holiday season and its impact to the store’s overall profitability
Educate all associates on specific holiday policies and procedures, ensuring they understand how to identify and react to specific situations
Train associates on theft awareness techniques such as the need to: follow company guidelines when catching shoplifters; check and empty fitting rooms regularly to verify whether theft has occurred; and inspect all packages that can hide merchandise when processing point of sale (POS) transactions
Inform store associates on tasks that occur more frequently during the holiday season such as gift card transactions, special discounts, etc., and ensure they understand how to complete these transactions
Review with associates all shipping and receiving procedures, making sure not to cut corners that can often lead to costly mistakes and shrink
Provide good customer service to boost sales while helping protect stores from theft
Instruct associates to remain on the sales floor as often as possible, using strong customer engagement as the best deterrent to shoplifting
Focus on greeting customers with a smile and making eye contact. While customers enjoy the attention, shoplifters don’t
Devise a plan to protect associates – a retailer’s most valued asset. Strategies can include having a buddy system for walking to cars after the store closes and a specific process for handling and securing cash
Protect company assets from employee theft. Having a larger number of temporary seasonal employees for the holidays can lead to a higher probability of process errors and employee theft; that’s where proper training of all new hires is invaluable. It might be prudent to increase POS monitoring and randomly check personal belongings when employees leave for the day
According to Deloitte’s 2017 Retail Holiday Survey, the holiday shopping season accounts for more than $1 trillion of annual US retail sales. Holiday spending expectations continue to rise in large part due to improved household finances. Clothing and gift cards tie for the top gift giving items. Electronics and games & toys rise in popularity and luxury categories continue to climb. Gifts may have a little more sparkle this year for consumers — and for criminals. If retailers plan now, make their LP prep checklist (and check it twice!), their employees can focus on better serving customers and keeping loss prevention efforts top of mind to make it a profitable holiday season.