Posts

Asset Protection: Spelling out some key terms for all employees

As a loss prevention leader, you’re certainly familiar with all the main terms surrounding inventory security. And if there are other employees working in your store’s loss prevention division, they probably know these terms as well. But members of the LP team aren’t the only team members who need to be up on their inventory security lingo: There are certain key terms that all other store employees need to know as well.

“All store employees need to be up on certain inventory security terms.”

That’s because when it comes to inventory security, it represents a group effort. When dealing with a store whose inventory security knowledge is limited to only a few individuals, what happens if those people aren’t around and a shrink-causing incident occurs? Having staff members who know what they’re doing in terms of inventory management and security can help eliminate this kind of scenario.

To get store employees up to par in terms of inventory management and security jargon, we’ve decided to put together a list of some of the key terms. For store employees, knowing these terms and how they fit into a business’s broader asset protection plan is vital for playing a necessary role in limiting incidents that compromise security:

Shrinkage: In the retail sector, it’s imperative to keep track of items from when they’re received to the moment they leave a store with a paying customer. Shrinkage refers to item losses in the time period between the point of receiving and the point of sale. If employees notice a discrepancy between the number of items delivered to the store and the number of items that are on the shelf, this is a common situation that reveals shrink. Shrink can also be discovered at other points in the lifecycle of a product, such as damages or product expirations.

Shrink encompasses more than theft alone. While it’s true that theft incidents constitute a large part of shrink causation, there are other things that also cause shrink, including administrative/paperwork errors and vendor fraud/error. For retail stores, shrink figures are far from insignificant, with the average retailer reporting a shrink percentage of 1.22 in 2014.

One key reason why shrink numbers are so high, as National Retail Security Survey (NRSS) lead study author Dr. Richard Hollinger explained, is because shoplifting groups are growing in sophistication, with “gangs of thieves … using a lot of skills … [and] doing investigations prior to the thefts.” This is all the more reason to have store employees know what shrink is, how it occurs and how to prevent it.

stealing_shirt
Shrink is the difference between what is supposed to be in the store according to the inventory management system, and what is actually in the store.

RFID: Radio-frequency identification is a system that offers multiple functionalities, including EAS (electronic article surveillance as outlined below) as well as for providing increased inventory visibility, throughout your entire supply chain. When it comes to loss prevention, RFID is a great technology to harness because it allows for highly robust tag monitoring via readers that are either handheld or mounted for hands-free operation. RFID technology also offers stores significant data benefits, since information can be more quickly accessed using the technology. This makes RFID a vital part of overall supply chain management as well.

EAS: Electronic article surveillance is the primary technology used by stores to limit instances of shoplifting and drive down overall shrink. According to experts, the deployment of EAS technology can drive down theft by 60 percent or higher. The way EAS works is through a system of tags that interact with specially designed gates or overheads. If a tag isn’t removed by a store employee, the gate/overhead will detect this and trigger an alarm. In this way, shoplifters can be caught in the act. Beyond that, however, the presence of tags and gates/overheads present thieves with a strong deterrent to commit a crime in the first place, since good EAS systems are highly reliable.

RF Systems: Radio frequency systems are so named because they rely on electromagnetic – aka radio wave frequencies. In terms of inventory management and security, this technology can be centrally helpful in keeping thieves out of your stores. One prime example of RF technology in action is CONTROLTEK’s first-rate pedestals (the i30 and i45), which provide a seamless presence in any store environment.

As Dr. Hollinger pointed out, today’s retail climate is one in which loss prevention professionals have to contend with far more sophisticated criminals who work in well-planned groups to get away with theft. To deal with threats like these, stores need to mount equally sophisticated defensive strategies. Here at CONTROLTEK, we’ve built a powerful line of inventory security products that provide stores with cutting-edge security solutions that can help to significantly limit store losses. But for stores to drive down shrink even more, it helps to have all staffers on the same page, and teaching them the fundamentals of Shrink, RFID and EAS is a great place to start.

For clothing stores, a guide on which tags to use for which garments

Shoplifting is a practice that is very widespread, and in terms of the types of businesses targeted, few are hit as frequently or significantly as clothing stores.

“One reason clothing retailers get hit by thieves is because fitting rooms offer convenient privacy for the shoplifter.”

There are several reasons why clothing retailers are especially susceptible to shoplifting. The first is the perceived ease of carrying out the crime. You go into a clothing store, see a t-shirt you like and take it into a fitting room. Then, you put your sweater over it and walk out the front door. The thieves who steal clothes via this method are difficult to nab, as Rutgers’ crime prevention site pointed out. Emboldened by their success, they’ll do it again and again, and clothing store shrinkage will reflect the loss that results from this.

Another reason clothing retailers get hit by thieves is because they offer convenient privacy for the shoplifter. When you go to a hardware store, for instance, you typically don’t get a private room to test out the merchandise, but for clothing stores, this is the norm. For the amateur shoplifter – and the vast majority of shoplifters are amateurs – the fitting room provides a sanctuary to strategize how they’ll get away with theft. While in the fitting room, the shoplifter can determine how best to conceal an article of clothing, and decide how to leave the store so as to arouse as little suspicion as possible.

All too often, amateur thieves get the upper hand when it comes to clothing store theft. But that doesn’t have to be the case. When clothing retailers leverage EAS Hard Tags, they add a critical line of defense against shoplifters. But in order for these stores to reap the biggest theft prevention benefits from hard tags, it’s important to pair the right tags with the right garments.

Clothing stores can protect merchandise with well-placed hard tags.Clothing stores can protect merchandise with well-placed hard tags.

Defending against thieves with well-placed tags
For clothing stores, hard tags can make a big difference in terms of garment security. But to maximize the positive impact, loss prevention experts should aim for the best tag/garment compatibility possible. Here are some of our suggestions for how to tag different common items sold at clothing stores:

  • Shoes: Because of their design, shoes don’t seem to lend themselves to tagging as easily as, say, a pair of jeans. But in fact, tagging them is as easy as finding a solution that can fit through shoelace holes and other small openings. The answer to that is Pencil Tags, whose light and small construction enables them to be easily attached to otherwise challenging items like shoes. Bonus: Pencil tags also work great for accessories like handbags.
  • More expensive items (leather jackets, coats): Not all thieves are amateurs. Some are career criminals who aren’t looking to shoplift for the thrill of it or the desire to have a new item, but are instead focused on a singular task: reselling their stolen goods. For these shoplifters, expensive items like leather jackets are often the most lucrative targets, since they offer the greatest potential value when reselling. To protect these items, clothing stores should affix them with exploding ink tags, which deny thieves the benefit of reselling a pricey item by covering that item in ink when a removal of the tag is attempted.
  • Jeans and t-shirts: Items like t-shirts and pants may not be as pricey as, say, that new leather jacket featured in the display window, but for the impulsive amateur shoplifter looking for an easy swipe, they’re an ideal target. Therefore, clothing stores need to be serious about protecting these rudimentary but highly popular garments. That’s where The Falcon tag from CONTROLTEK can offer a lot of help. A product of careful strategizing among RFID engineers, retail workers and manufacturing experts, the Falcon provides industry-leading protection for apparel items. With a sleek design, these tags are great for stores looking to ensure that products are tagged in a way that’s not only safety-boosting, but cost-efficient as well.

Here at CONTROLTEK, we offer clothing stores an industry-leading EAS Hard Tag arsenal that’s equipped to comprehensively defend all merchandise.

Caught red handed: How tags with exploding ink are the ultimate theft deterrent

For all the benefits of the summer months, there is one big drawback for retailers: As the temperatures increase, so do shoplifting incidents. As loss prevention professionals know, crime tends to surge in the summer, and shoplifting is no exception to this trend. Kids are on summer break, people are out of their homes and merchandise is displayed at storefronts everywhere. These factors add up to a ripe season for shoplifting.

But they also add up to a great season for sales. Since retailers are necessarily focused on running the business and keeping customers happy, they don’t want to have to be preoccupied with shoplifters all the time. But losses from theft add up fast, and threaten to put a huge dent in profits. No business wants to find itself in this situation. Solving the problem calls for more than careful surveillance monitoring – it requires on-the-ground action.

Understanding – and undermining – the shoplifter mindset
According to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, there are around 27 million active shoplifters in the country. And these shoplifters often come out in larger numbers during the summer.

Given that roughly one in every 11 people is a shoplifter, it’s no surprise that there’s not a typical profile of this kind of criminal. As an industry professional, you know merchandise swindlers are young and old, male and female. Some of them are professional criminals, but many are not.

“By denying thieves the possibility of benefiting from their theft, they can take away their incentive to steal in the first place.”

Yet despite these differences, shoplifters are united by a common trait: the desire to benefit from what they’re stealing. When a thief steals a pair of jeans, for example, it’s because he or she wants to put them to use. Whether that means wearing them, giving them as a gift or attempting to resell them, the shoplifter plans to benefit from an item he or she didn’t pay for. But what if retailers deny thieves that benefit altogether? This is the idea behind exploding ink tags.

Enjoy some permanent ink with those stolen jeans
There’s a reason exploding ink tags have been a go-to theft deterrent for retailers since the early 1990s: they’re the ultimate tool for theft benefit denial. That’s because even if a shoplifter manages to remove a garment with an ink tag from the store, he or she won’t get to enjoy their stolen item. While some shoplifters are adept at removing regular security tags, with ink tags, they won’t be able to avoid the explosion of permanent ink. This creates an additional deterrent for prospective thieves.

Thieves can be hard to spot, but easy to deter with exploding ink tags.Thieves can be hard to spot, but easy to deter with exploding ink tags.

If a thief attempts to remove an ink tag in your store, that person will literally be caught red-handed. And if they make it out, it’ll be with an item that can neither be used nor resold. By heightening the chance of capture and denying all benefits, exploding ink tags reduce retail theft to a dangerous practice that lacks any reward. The technology has been effective for a long time. Back in 1996, for example, a survey of 14 stores that introduced ink tags found that these establishments experienced a 14 percent reduction in industry shortages after the incorporation of the ink tags.

Here at CONTROLTEK’s Retail Security Solutions division, we offer an ink tag that serves as the best line of defense for your store’s merchandise:

  • InkGuard ink tag: The InkGuard offers visual deterrence like no other and is available in AM and RF technologies. This ink tag works for any of your apparel items.

When it comes to defending your merchandise in the summer months, loss prevention experts know that a passive approach won’t cut it. The solution to the summer shoplifting boom is to confront the problem head-on, with a theft prevention solution that is explosively effective.

How to safeguard merchandise stored outside

For retailers, summer is great for business, but it can also make for risky business. That's because with the rise in temperatures, many enterprises will display merchandise outside the storefront to entice foot traffic. By showing what you've got on the outside, you drive people inside. But this setup is also lucrative for thieves.

"Making off with an item when it's already outside seems like a decidedly easy task to thieves."

Going inside a store and swiping an item is one thing. In that case, a potential shoplifter has many factors to content with, like security cameras, the watchful eyes of staff members and the challenge of getting past the RF pedestals at the exit. But making off with an item when it's already outside seems decidedly easier. In fact, it appears to be as simple as taking the item and continuing to walk.

Retail loss prevention experts are familiar with crime opportunity theory, which posits, broadly, that "opportunity makes the thief" – i.e. particular circumstances play a huge role in whether or not someone commits a crime. The circumstance that's most desirable to a thief is one with lots of temptation and few potential consequences – such as merchandise displayed unattended in front of a store.

Merchandise can face a higher risk of attack depending on where it's placed in or outside of the store.Merchandise can face a higher risk of attack depending on where it's placed in or outside of the store.

No retailer wants merchandise stored outside to be a source of shrinkage. To solve the problem, stores have to eliminate the sense of opportunity thieves feel when they see products displayed outside. Here's how loss prevention experts can do that:

  • Affix prominently displayed ink tags to every outdoor item: Having clearly visible ink tags on items stored outside is an ideal first step to eliminating the sense of opportunity a prospective thief would feel. An item with an ink tag on it, after all, is no good unless the tag is removed by a special key in the store. Otherwise, you can guarantee an explosion of ink that will ruin the item. Thus, the presence of ink tags present a strong visual deterrent to thieves.
  • Make sure surveillance systems are in place for storefront: Surveillance systems – and the presence of them – are a strong force in combatting crime. When someone planning to shoplift an item outside sees that they're on film, they'll probably think twice. In that regard, it's not a bad idea to have a sign out front – alongside the display merchandise – that says something like, "Smile! You're on camera!"
  • Prioritize inventory management: Inventory oversight should be atop your business' priority list year-round, but most definitely in the summer. When you're displaying items outside, you'll need to make sure every item is accounted for – which means having a comprehensive overview of everything in stock. That's where active inventory control using our RFID Inventory Software comes in handy.

As your store prepares for the summer shopping boom, you'll want to focus on business as much as possible, without having to devote extra time to theft prevention. CONTROLTEK is happy to help.

Tag Along with Needed Goods

‘You’re it!’ product tagging goes right to the bottom line

Automated product information and data collection enabled by radio frequency identification (RFID) are improving the budgets at a host of businesses.

These scanning and tracking methods are proving effective in boosting productivity, measuring inventory flow and solving loss-control questions.

CONTROLTEK ISS, the Cranford-based provider of RFID applications, says the technology offers numerous benefits for companies adopting it.

Once a military use, it has become a proven success in supply-chain management, among many other operations, functioning efficiently even under conditions that present visual and environmental challenges.

Moreover, RFID technology can store and retrieve considerable amounts of information, making this a desirable part of inventory management.

Just as EZ-Pass is a system of RFID technology for a car, CONTROLTEK ISS can tag and mange whatever a business needs.

With RFID, a product is affixed with a tag, embedded with information about its item. When scanned, the tag interacts with a radio-frequency reader.

When a product is transported, a scanning sequence documents its movement through checkpoints until it reaches its destination. And as a loss-control measure, it can pinpoint where movement ceased.

Although tag circuitry can be programmed to monitor temperature and humidity, it can also be given levels of security such as encryption and password protection.

These measures are useful against malicious rogue scans searching for vulnerabilities in sensitive data, as in payment authentication.

RFID readers can differentiate units of identical items because unique identifiers. Same items can be read at a time, and a tag’s data can be gleaned over a long distances.

It’s also possible to include a kill feature for removing data permanently.

InkPencil™ Garment Tag Thwarts Shoplifters

Tampering with this security clothing tag breaks its ink canister

Thieves aiming to steal clothing from stores are facing a state-of-the art crime fighter in the battle against retail shoplifting.

The technology comes in the form of a tamper-resistant, anti-theft security tag that releases an ink stain as a deterrent for thieves intending to steal garments.

CONTROLTEK ISS (Inventory Security Solutions) markets their InkPencil™ hard tag that features a strong locking mechanism to prevent it from being removed by just any detacher.

ISS is the ideal source for businesses seeking unique solutions for optimum retail-theft prevention.

The InkPencil is manufactured from high-density ABS plastic – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene – for superior durability.

The most important characteristics of ABS are impact resistance and toughness. The lightweight material is widely used in children’s toys, musical instruments and helmets.

Efforts to disable security tags on clothing underscore the ABS advantages of being flame retardant, and both  heat and impact resistant.

The InkPencil is compact in size, has a smooth pin for minimal effects on a garment, and has a built-in ink canister deterrent. It also has superlock strength, is tamper-resistant and is available in two different kinds of alarm frequencies.

Tampering with the InkPencil will cause the ink canister to break, allowing ink to spill onto the garment. This removes the incentive for a thief to steal other garments. Whereas the alarm trigger is still attached to the clothing, a thief is still unable to remove garments from the store. See: /ink-tags/sekura-inkpencil-w-pins/ for more information.