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How Retailers Can Use Technology to Help Prevent Shoplifting, Shrinkage and Theft

Woman shopping in retail store

Every day, the retail industry faces a $100 billion problem that affects every single retailer across the country: theft. From one-off shoplifters to organized schemes to resell merchandise on a secondary market, security in the retail world demands real-life protections. In fact, according to a recent National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, retailers saw a 26.5% increase in organized retail crime in 2021—all in one year. But just because the crimes are physical and not virtual, doesn’t mean the mechanisms to thwart them need to be, too. Technology – and not only cybersecurity – offers retailers a range of opportunities for security and theft prevention.

For example, retailers are turning to technologies like digital signage, surveillance cameras and electronic locks to deter shoplifters and protect their businesses. I noticed more of these technologies on display in the exhibit halls at industry conferences this year, like the Multi Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (MURTEC), the Verifone Client Forum (VCF) and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show.

If you are a retailer exploring new technologies or devices to prevent shrinkage and theft, here are five tips to consider:

  • Display real-time video of customers as they shop to act as a deterrent. With cloud-based digital signage, you can mount small profile SmartTV screens adjacent to high ticket items and electronics. Then, stream a live video feed of customers as they shop, with an accompanying warning message (“Shoplifters will be prosecuted.”).
  • Deploy a Managed Wi-Fi solution with fast, reliable and secure Guest Wi-Fi access and Enterprise Wi-Fi with ample bandwidth to support added applications and devices. When Wi-Fi coverage extends to your location’s perimeter, you can install external cameras for greater security.
  • Secure new third party access or endpoints on the network. Whenever you partner with 3rd party applications or device vendors, you raise the risk of a cyber-attack on your network because their network may have vulnerabilities. Work with a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) to implement a Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) strategy, which will secure all access points along the network and lower your risk profile.
  • Add secondary or even tertiary backup connectivity. Losing connectivity directly impacts whether new technologies and devices can do their job and prevent theft. If they are offline, they are not useful. Having automatic failover backup capabilities ensures the network is always up and running.
  • Increase router port density to accommodate additions. The more devices you have, the more ports you need in your router (referred to as port density) for equipment to plug into. For example, a 12-port router has a higher port density than an 8-port router. To accommodate device additions today and into the future, upgrade to routers with higher port density.

As you consider various loss prevention strategies, also explore how they may impact the customer experience. Some network security and theft prevention approaches may add friction to the customer journey. Here too, an MSSP can help you to align your goals for a secure, high performing network and your ability to deliver a convenient and efficient customer experience.

While there may be no way to eliminate theft and shoplifting altogether, the right strategies, tactics and partners can help you to reduce incidents and keep your business safe. A strong loss prevention program can help you increase your bottom line.