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How to Prepare Your Retail Store for Black Friday

Black Friday is just around the corner, which means it’s time for retailers to prepare their stores for a higher volume of customers — and a greater risk of theft. Customer shoplifting is the number one source of shrink for retailers, but there are many ways you can fight shrink during the holiday season.

Train Your Employees

Store employees who provide excellent customer service is one of the simplest ways to deter theft, and it already aligns with your goals as a retailer. Here are more ways your employees can help you reduce shrink:

Spot counterfeit money. When employees learn how to spot fake money, they can help reduce the chances of a business suffering a loss of thousands of dollars. Counterfeit money pens and detectors are an easy way to help store associates spot counterfeit money. There are also a few ways to visually detect counterfeit money, such as checking a bill for color-shifting ink or an authentic watermark, which an employee can quickly and easily perform at checkout.

Actively manage store inventory. If there’s ever a time that a certain item in your store is going to sell out quickly, it’s during Black Friday. With a higher volume of customers and sales, it can be easy for employees to become overwhelmed and fall behind on inventory management. Implementing an inventory management system can help by making it easy for your employees to scan and view inventory anywhere in store, even from your point-of-sale system.

Protect Your Merchandise

Another line of defense against shoplifting is protecting your products from theft. EAS tags and labels come in a variety of form factors and technologies so you can apply them to nearly any kind of product. They can even be integrated with your inventory management system if you use RFID technology.

With so many customers entering your store, your first step should be to deter theft wherever possible. An ink tag, such as the InkGuard, provides both visual deterrence and benefit denial without requiring you to install an EAS system in your store, making it the perfect tag for small businesses. The tag can only be safely removed using a powerful magnetic detacher at checkout. Otherwise, when the tag is improperly removed, the ink will explode and damage the item, which discourages shoplifters from stealing. This type of tag is ideal for protecting denim, apparel and designer wear.

Boxed gift sets and electronics are incredibly popular during the holiday season, but they often cannot be protected with the typical EAS pin tag. A tag specifically designed for boxed merchandise, such as our SurfaceTag, can protect your products without interfering with the customer experience. The SurfaceTag is an excellent alternative to other cable-based tags designed for boxed merchandise, which can often be time consuming to remove and annoying to the customer.

How CONTROLTEK Can Help You Prepare

Supplying state-of-the-art EAS and RFID tags. CONTROLTEK’s wide range of EAS and RFID tags and labels offer many options to protect almost any product you can think of. Our tags are compatible with both RF and AM systems, and many can be converted to RFID technology as well.

Installing EAS and RFID systems on time and correctly the very first time. Our First Time Right™ promise has resulted in over 97 percent of EAS and RFID system installations being fully completed on the first visit, one of the highest rates in the loss prevention industry. We document every single installation, and to be rated as First Time Right™ each one must be signed off by our customer.

Providing tamper-evident retail deposit bags. More customers during the holidays means an increase in cash flow. CONTROLTEK’s industry-leading cash deposit bags for retailers have tamper-evident security features and easy-to-use seals to speed up the cash deposit process for your employees.

CONTROLTEK has solutions for every retailer who wants to boost their store’s security in time for the holiday season. Contact us to start fighting shrink today!

The 3 Most Commonly Overlooked Key Elements of Inventory Management

Perhaps you’ve met this person, or maybe you are him or her. It’s the person whose desktop is immaculate – with everything lined up just so – but as soon as you open one of their drawers, you see a bunch of things crammed in there haphazardly, without any discernable system. Sure, the desk looks great to the boss walking by, but when it comes time for this person to unearth that important financial file from a few months back … good luck with that. Throwing things in drawers to project an appearance of organization is something with which we can all relate. Simply put, it’s easier to straighten things on top of a desk than to organize the contents within.

“Some stores overlook the disorganization that’s unseen in favor of offering a great outward appearance.”

When it comes to retail stores, the outward appearance of the store is the equivalent of the top of the desk, while the inventory is the equivalent of what’s in the drawers. And just like people, some stores are likely to overlook the disorganization that’s unseen in favor of offering a great outward appearance.

Stores without strong inventory management processes are the retail equivalent of this kind of person: Sure, everything looks great on the outside, but beneath the surface, there’s a whole lot of disorganization. Organizations need to make sure they don’t overlook the importance of inventory management.

To bolster the quality of inventory oversight, stores need to make sure they don’t overlook key elements of a great inventory strategy. Therefore, we’ve decided to highlight three inventory-related practices that can be easy for stores to overlook:

1. Keeping an ongoing record of inventory to ensure accuracy: 

As a retail operation, it can be tempting to only keep track of inventory at certain moments, such as when you’re receiving orders. And as Entrepreneur pointed out, stores that don’t harness a convenient means of data entry are also left with counting/tracking methods that are far too error-prone to be dependable. Solving these issues boils down to implementing a solution that makes inventory tracking both accurate and easy to carry out on a consistent basis. This is where handheld RFID devices like the Nedap !D Hand 2, TSL 1128, and Touch Technologies r-touch can make a big difference.

2. Paying careful attention to inventory tracking numbers: 

There are items in a store that sell out quickly, and then there are others that just don’t move as quickly. But for store leaders who don’t pay attention to inventory tracking data, these items might as well be the same. The problem is, they aren’t – and stores that aren’t able to prioritize inventory items are apt to always be running out of desirable merchandise while wasting money stocking products that customers simply aren’t buying. To prevent this problem from arising, stores need to implement RFID software, which can help to automate the process of inventory and assets tracking, thereby providing store leaders with actionable data about which products should take priority in terms of stocking.

3. Letting all staffers know about the inventory strategy:

While store managers may be the main employees handling inventory issues for your stores, that doesn’t mean the remainder of the staff should be left out of the conversation. Inventory management is the kind of thing that should be communicated across the board.

As inventory visibility leaders, CONTROLTEK offers businesses a host of products that can play a key role in bringing inventory management up to speed. While inventory is something that can be overlooked by store leaders, it’s also an element of store operations that is easy to have firm control over. From the RFID software we provide to our industry-leading fixed readers and USB readers, we have the tools to make sure your store is positioned to be the most profitable it can be by increasing sales and reducing shrink.

To find out more, contact CONTROLTEK today.

About CONTROLTEK

Since 1976, we have been delivering unique products and solutions to the cash-transfer and asset protection industries to address specific business challenges. Our company has grown steadily based on the quality of our products and the quality of our service. Our commitment to research and development is combined with a willingness to listen to the people who everyday depend on our products. By relentlessly researching and introducing new materials and new features, we are proud to say we have impacted the way assets are secured globally.

With experience gained through research and collaboration within the financial and retail sectors, we actively charted a course over the past several years to bring added value, new thinking and viable approaches, addressing the dilemmas and challenges that frustrate business professionals today.

During this process, we realigned our resources within CONTROLTEK, creating three silos (ISS, ISP and IVS). This enables us to focus more specifically on the needs of our Clients and their specific challenges they face on a daily basis. Additionally, CONTROLTEK has aligned itself with Global partners to provide holistic solutions that solve today’s challenges.   Whatever the application, CONTROLTEK resources stand by ready to deliver results that enable commerce and effectively secure assets at financial institutions and leading retailers across the globe.

Put the Stock Back in Out-of-Stocks: Affordable RFID Solutions

The movement of goods is the ultimate goal for any retailer. But what happens when a retailer is unable to move goods into the consumers’ hands because of out-of-stock issues?

According to Jacqueline Renfrow at fierceretail.com, over 75% of adults found a wanted product to be out-of-stock during store visits over the last 12 months. In the same period of time, 63% of online shoppers experienced the same out-of-stock error messages. Retailers lost 58% of these sales and 65% of the online sales.

New research from IHL Group attributed a $634.1 billion loss due to out-of-stocks. Greg Buzek, IHL Group President said, “Retailers can realize huge gains by addressing opportunities that are in hand and slipping through their enterprise fingers.”

Many factors can lead to embarrassing and costly out-of-stock scenarios for retailers, such as:

  • Underestimating the demand for a product
  • Miscalculating the time needed for the supplier to deliver the product
  • Late delivery by a supplier
  • Product quality issues
  • Shortage of working capital

Those who have been in business long enough know that some situations cannot be controlled. But what can be controlled, should be controlled. Inventory visibility is something retailers can control with confidence.

“The ability to sense and respond to demand through greater inventory visibility and intelligence is critical for retailers,” explains Bryan Nella, director of corporate communication at GT Nexus.

It is time to take control with ControlSpan, CONTROLTEK’s inventory visibility system (IVS). ControlSpan is true inventory visibility made easy. ControlSpan is a modular solution built to allow freedom of choice at the beginning of an RFID deployment, to grow with the demands of the organization, and provide options at all levels instead of being locked into a single, siloed offering.

The Proctor & Gamble Company sponsored a study, A Comprehensive Guide to Retail Out-of-Stock Reduction in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods Industry, which discovered RFID showed great promise to solving the out-of-stock epidemic. The report states that “new retail support technologies, such as RFID, have changed our thinking about OOS as a single problem, to separating OOS examination to ‘not in the store’ and ‘not on the shelf’, which is key to truly understanding the out-of-stock epidemic.

Eric Green, CEO and Co-Founder at Askuity, attributes out-of-stocks due to poor data-syncing, accuracy failure of Perpetual Inventory (PI) systems, and distorted demand forecasting…flaws ControlSpan can resolve.

Bill Hardgrave, Dean of Auburn University’s Harbert School of Business and an expert on RFID adoption in retail, said the technology’s reliability and economic benefit have been well-established. Hardgrave adds, “RFID enables retailers to know what they have, and where they have it.”

Request a demo today and see how CONTROLTEK’s ControlSpan suite offers end-to-end inventory and process management solutions that allows not only improved visibility but also enhanced profitability and customized integration. CONTROLTEK’s solutions help make existing systems more efficient and accurate.

As any retailer would agree, inventory visibility is the cornerstone to meeting product demands and protecting the trust consumers place in the company brand.

Top 3 Reasons Why ORC may be Smaller Fish in the Shrink Sea

What is ORC?

The National Retail Federation (NRF) defines Organized Retail Crime (ORC) as, “theft/fraudulent activity conducted with the intent to convert illegally obtained merchandise, cargo, cash, or cash equivalent into financial gain (no personal use), typically through online or offline sales. Organized retail crime typically involves a criminal enterprise that organizes large-scale thefts from a number of retail stores and employs a fencing operation to sell the illegally-obtained goods for financial gain.”

ORC: The Smaller Fish in the Shrink Sea?

Shrink rates can be lowered by either decreasing the amount of inventory shortage or by increasing sales, The Calibration Group’s whitepaper, “SOH: The Retail Problem That’s 7 Times Greater than ORC” reveals. Accordingly, ORC may no longer be considered the biggest threat to retailers’ bottom lines from a Loss Prevention perspective. The Top 3 reasons to consider when pondering this comparison:

  1. ORC costs North American retailers a staggering $34.67 billion a year, but the $252.9 billion stock-on-hand (SOH) issue overshadows ORC by more than 7:1.
  2. If North American retailers eliminated ORC entirely, profit earned from the $34.67 billion in merchandise now available for sale would be $1.04 billion.*
  3. If North American retailers resolved their SOH issues and recouped the lost sales, the profit earned from the $252.9 billion would be nearly $7.6 billion.*

* Calculations based on 3% net profit margins

The Four-letter Solution

An inventory visibility system (IVS) with RFID technology offers retailers clear insight into their inventory at any given point in time. RFID, along with a comprehensive, yet simple software application, has now become the solution that can easily be embedded into any retail framework. An IVS system with RFID provides store personnel with key inventory management data, such as how many items are in back stock and on the sales floor, which in turn allows the staff to manage inventory more “real-time” by making necessary adjustments.

This technology also provides the ability to take a full inventory of the store within minutes as opposed to hours. Loss Prevention professionals can now enhance profitability more effectively by increasing sales while simultaneously lowering the shrink rate.

The Not-So Holiday Checklist

With the influx of customers during the holiday months, most businesses’ have taken measures to be certain their existing inventory strategies are well thought-out, and that their stores are well prepared for the added security and other inventory protection needs that come with the holiday season. All of this preparation is designed to ensure the retail stores are operating on all cylinders in order to successfully meet the demands of the holidays, while preventing losses due to theft. But what happens when the holidays are over? How can retailers ensure that all of their pre-holiday “best practice” efforts transcend throughout the entire next year?

To help prevent thefts from occurring, and to provide legitimate customers with the best shopping experience possible, we’ve created a checklist for all retail stores not only for the lead-up to the holiday shopping rush, but to use throughout the year. Take a look at this list to see if all of these things are in place:

  1. Product tagging system: The holiday rush provides exactly the kind of hectic shopping environment that thieves love to take advantage of. If your store doesn’t have an EAS tagging system in place, what’s preventing shoplifters from just walking out the door with merchandise amid the crowd of shoppers? CONTROLTEK’s line of EAS Tags offers stores a robust arsenal of tagging solutions for every product type, for every day of the year.
  2. Prepared staff: Are your employees ready to not only provide stellar customer service this shopping season and beyond, but also to help weed out potential shoplifters? For asset protection, it’s vital to equip all employees with the skills and technology to help deter shoplifters.
  3. Top-tier inventory oversight: If there’s ever a time that a particular item in your store is going to sell out quickly, it’s during the holiday season. The frequency with which purchases are made over the holiday months means that inventory managers have to elevate their oversight. Otherwise, the store could get a reputation as the place that never has the items customers want. Stopping this issue from happening means taking steps to refine inventory control to a process that runs like a well-oiled machine. This includes:
    1. Harnessing RFID active inventory control software to provide store leaders with an up-to-date picture of a business’s inventory.
    2. Using handheld RFID readers to make inventory scanning a highly expedient process.
    3. Ensuring a strong line of communication between leaders at the store and those at product stocking sites. By doing this, stocking requests can be more quickly fulfilled as popular items fly off the shelves.
  1. Cash transfer solutions in place: More customers mean a lot more cash in the registers, and stores will have to look into their currency transfer methods as the need to safely handle cash inflow increases. When it comes to store deposits and cash transfers, retail deposit bags from CONTROLTEK provide retailers with a highly secure means of transferring cash for deposit. Among the features included with these bags are tampering protection and robust sealing technology. Check out CONTROLTEK’s tamper-evident bags

Considering that we’ve been open since 1976, CONTROLTEK has seen its fair share of holiday shopping seasons, as well as the challenges retailers face on a daily basis. While the shopping landscape has changed in the past 30 years, the need to maintain a high level of inventory protection hasn’t. That’s why we’ve designed Inventory Security Solutions (ISS) that are built to meet the security needs of today’s stores and put retailers in the best possible position to be more profitable as the holidays approach…and throughout the year.

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.

Employee Awareness: The Key to Protecting Inventory

When it comes to stores preventing theft, having a robust inventory protection strategy in place is absolutely vital. But there’s one central element of a great retail theft prevention strategy that is sometimes overlooked: making sure employees across the board are prepared.

“Having a staff committed to protecting inventory is the most vital ingredient to loss prevention.”

As a loss prevention leader, you could have some of the strongest security tools dispersed around your store – and yet if your staff hasn’t been trained on how to protect inventory from being stolen or damaged, then you won’t be getting the maximum value out of the security resources you have in place.

For stores, inventory security needs to be a group effort
There are some stores out there that have an entire fleet of staff solely devoted to loss prevention. In fact, if you’re running a mega retail store, chances are you have a full department designated for the cause. But as Retail Minded pointed out, not every store out there is a major retailer with its own loss prevention division. The vast majority of enterprises are operating at a much smaller scale.

Yet whether you’re part of a huge chain or a small family business, the need to protect inventory remains the same. And for organizations of a smaller size, this task calls for a staff who’s cognizant of the value of inventory, as well as how to protect it. While it can be tempting for small companies to approach loss prevention in a siloed manner – with a couple of people assuming full responsibility for inventory protection – this is not the way to protect merchandise in practice. Here are some of the key reasons why all store employees need to be trained in the protection of inventory:

  • They provide a crucial set of eyes for suspicious activity: It’s bad news that shoplifting happens as often as it does. But the frequency with which retail theft occurs does offer one upside: There are well-documented behaviors of shopliftersthat can be identified by perceptive employees. Someone who repeatedly leaves and re-enters a store, for instance, should be cause for concern. The same goes for a person who remains in an area of the store that is difficult for employees to monitor. Without employees who are trained to identify these behaviors, however, potential thieves can fly under the radar and cause inventory losses.
  • Inventory security knowledge will improve their work quality: Staffers who’ve been trained in the fundamentals of loss prevention and asset protection know that the last thing a thief wants is employees who are always walking the aisles. Conversely, this is exactly the kind of employee who legitimate customers appreciate. When staffers know the value of inventory protection and management, they’ll patrol the aisles with more frequency, which won’t only deter thieves, but also, as Retail Minded pointed out, have the added benefit of providing better service for valued customers.
  • They’ll know how Inventory Security Solutions (ISS) technology works: Having ISS technologylike that offered by CONTROLTEK is a massive benefit for stores – but it’s optimally effective when all employees know how it operates. If, for instance, a customer is attempting to remove an ink tag from a garment and the tag releases its permanent ink, this is the kind of technological component a well-trained employee can be on the lookout for and act upon.

Loss Prevention
When it comes to loss prevention, proactive employees are a key part of the equation.

How CONTROLTEK solutions can help employees protect inventory
CONTROLTEK provides stores with a future-focused arsenal of inventory security solutions that make the job of monitoring and protecting inventory a lot easier. But it’s not just that our product offerings are innovative and highly effective – it’s also that they’re made to be easily useable by all staff members in a retail environment. Accompanying our well-regarded EAS Hard Tag product line, for instance, is a collection of EAS Tag Detachers that are built to be both strong and easy for employees to use in order to disengage tags to facilitate a sale.

For all stores, equipping employees with the best tools and training to protect inventory is the most vital step toward mounting the most impactful system of defense possible. Having a well-prepared staff can turn out to be the difference between maintaining low inventory shrink numbers and increasing sales.

RFID Inventory Management

USA-based CONTROLTEK ISS serves retailers worldwide with theft-protection tagging and RFID tracking technology for RFID inventory management.

In today’s global arena, where retailers face the nonstop threat of internal crooks, shoplifters and sophisticated thieves, the need for cutting-edge security-packaging products and monitoring devices is vital.

Meeting this international need is the development, refinement and implementation of modern-day technologies, such as Radio-frequency identification (RFID). Embraced by New Jersey-headquartered Securotek, the scientific innovation is part of the company’s quest to remain at the forefront of the security-tagging products and services.

As defined by the U.S. government, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) refers to a wireless system comprised of two components: Tags and readers.

The reader is a device that has one or more antennas that emit radio waves and receive signals back from the RFID tag. CONTROLTEK ISS provides the advantages of the technology to a variety of industries, such as retail, medical, industrial and transportation.

RFID tags can store a range of information from one serial number to several pages of data. Readers can be mobile so that they can be carried by hand, or they can be mounted on a post or overhead. Reader systems can also be built into the architecture of a cabinet, room, or building.

The RFID technology provided by CONTROLTEK ISS benefits retailers and consumers by easing the process of transactions, whether the purchase is made in a brick-and-mortar store or over the Internet.

This high-tech innovation can assist with security and tracking from the onset of manufacture, when RFID labels are printed and applied, and continue through delivery; stock-control; inventory-taking, and point of sale – where goods are registered at the checkout via RFID plates, and automatically removed from the stock list as a customer exists the shop; any items not registered at the checkout will activate the alarm.