Small Business Retail Theft Prevention



A perennial threat that retailers face is shrinkage, which is the loss of inventory before it can be sold to customers. Shrinkage costs retailers approximately $42 billion per year, with shoplifting and employee theft being primary causes. Shoplifting and internal theft can have dire consequences for smaller retailers who are struggling to fend off competition from the larger chains that can offer their goods at lower prices. This makes implementing effective theft prevention techniques imperative for the survival of any small retailer.

Shoplifting Prevention Tips

 Steps smaller retailers can take to prevent shoplifting include:

  • Employee training: Train your employees to watch for suspicious behavior and the telltale signs that indicate a customer may be looking to steal something. Examples include lingering too long in one area of the store, acting nervous or constantly looking around, wandering the aisles without purchasing anything and leaving the store and then returning.
  • Planning your store’s layout to minimize the risk of retail theft: While smaller stores have the advantage of less floor space to monitor, it is still important to lay out your aisles and displays in a manner that maximizes visibility and minimizes blind spots. The effective use of security mirrors can help you keep an eye on hidden areas.
  • Use signage as a deterrent: Signs stating that shoplifters will be prosecuted placed in highly visible locations can be an inexpensive, yet highly effective shoplifting deterrent.
  • Closely monitor groups of shoppers: Shoplifting techniques have become more sophisticated and often involve multiple individuals. Be aware of a shopper who creates a disturbance, as this can be a diversionary tactic that allows an accomplice to steal merchandise without being noticed.

Employee Theft Prevention Tips

 Small business protection steps for preventing employee theft include:

  • Efficient inventory management practices: Using inventory management software is an affordable way for small retailers to keep track of goods. You can also cross-reference your software data with manual inventory counts to spot any discrepancies.
  • Monitor employee cash handling: Much of the employee theft that occurs in retail stores takes place at the cash register. In addition to careful reconciliation at the end of cashier shifts, implement practices such as performing unannounced spot checks of register drawers and staying vigilant for instances of “sweethearting,” which is when employees give unauthorized discounts to their friends or relatives.
  • Pairing up: Have employees work in pairs when performing tasks such as opening and closing the store or taking cash receipts to the bank, as this minimizes the risk of a rogue employee perpetrating a retail theft.

Consider Installing a Comprehensive Business Security System

Even a smaller retailer can benefit from installing a business security system. A key system component is strategically placed video surveillance cameras that monitor store entrances, blind spots on the sales floor, registers and other cash handling areas as well as backrooms/inventory storage areas. The cameras should also have recording capabilities, as video recordings can prove invaluable when prosecuting shoplifters or employees who commit retail theft.

Titan Alarm, Inc. can handle all your small business security needs in the Phoenix, AZ area. Contact us to schedule a free in-store security consultation today.

Learn More About Commercial Video Surveillance

Updated by Titan Alarm on November 5, 2018.