The trend: Retailers are struggling to find a middle ground between preventing theft and improving the in-store experience.
The context: Retailers lost $94.5 billion last year due to retail shrink in 2021, up from $90.8 billion the previous year, per the National Retail Federation’s 2022 Retail Security Survey.
A heavy-handed approach: More retailers have turned to locking items up or shifting inventory to stockrooms to keep shoplifters from snatching items off shelves. But these tactics are frustrating to shoppers who must now wait for a retail associate for assistance.
A better way: Keeping items under lock and key is a “triage-type scenario,” Glenn said—a measure for buying time to test more customer-friendly options. While no retailer has developed a perfect solution, there are a number of approaches, such as reformatting stores to have fewer products on shelves or adding staff to high-risk areas, that can help reduce the possibility of theft.
The big takeaway: Theft is a huge problem for retailers—but so is the risk of alienating consumers over a poor shopping experience. “From a customer standpoint, there is not much worse than wanting to spend your money and not being able to access what you want,” noted Patty Soltis, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence. One bad experience could send shoppers fleeing to the relative ease and convenience of Amazon or other competing retailers.
Instead of thinking solely about theft prevention, retailers should follow Best Buy’s example and think about prevention within the context of the holistic shopping experience, aligning security with increased convenience and efficiency.
This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Retail & Ecommerce Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the retail industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.
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