What do you think of when you think of a thief? Perhaps they slink around, looking suspicious. Or perhaps you even think of a cartoonish character with a ski mask and a moneybag. Unfortunately, thieves come in all shapes and sizes - and can even work in teams to remove merchandise from your practice.
Unfortunately, retail theft, or “shrinkage”, is part of life for any retail operation, regardless of what industry you’re in. Expensive, high-end spectacles and sunglasses may represent an especial target - 8 of 10 optical shops report being a target of theft. After all, they’re small and most optical shops stock hundreds or even thousands of sample frames. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that your property stays safe and sound, ready for paying customers to try on.
Thinking LIKE Thieves
If you want to get serious about reducing shrinkage, it’s important to understand how thieves attempt to steal frames from stores. For example, thieves may use shopping bags from other establishments in order to smuggle frames from your shop. They might attempt to distract you in order to abscond with merchandise. It’s possible they could work in small teams, with one person taking frames or sunglasses from your displays while you help another “customer”. Understanding common retail theft tricks can help you avoid future incidents.
Banish Blind Spots
You can’t prevent what you can’t see. One of the best ways to cut down on shrinkage is to ensure that you can see all areas in your shop at all times. If you can’t see everything, at least eliminate as many barriers as possible and use strategically placed mirrors to boost your vision throughout the area.
Educate Your Employees
It’s all well and good to know what a thief looks like or improve your visibility. However, your employees also need to be empowered to help stop retail theft as well. Good training will help them reduce theft. For example, personally greeting each person who enters the shop and walking through the shop to talk to customers while they browse can help deter theft while also encouraging employee vigilance. It’s also key to understand your local laws, and ensure they’re communicated to your staff. Conveying this information to your staff and encouraging them to write down details of theft can help you stay well inside the law, and possibly catch suspected thieves.
Audit Inventory Regularly
Finally, a key step to ensuring that you can reduce retail theft is to know what you have in stock. When you keep a spectacle display full, for example, you can easily spot when a pair or five is missing. Conducting regular audits helps you stay on top of what product you have, so you can better protect it from would-be thieves.
Shrinkage may be part of retail life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to discourage or prevent it outright. Put these tips to the test in your optical store and just remember - if all else fails, at least some thieves are honest.
How do you prevent retail theft in your optical store? Share your best tips for others in the comments.