How to Stop Shoplifting in Your Music Store
According to Music Inc., more than 100 people attempted to steal items from Two Street Music in California in 2018. Today, Two Street’s owner, Anthony Montova, is on a mission to bring awareness to the issue and help other retailers like him come up with effective strategies to thwart would-be shoplifters.
Here are some of Anthony’s best theft prevention methods, along with advice from several other music shop owners:
1. Create Store Policies That help reduce theft
At Two Street Music, customers aren’t allowed to have backpacks. And it’s not the only retailer resorting to this policy. City Mill Hardware in Hawaii, for example, asks customers to leave large bags and backpacks at the door.
“We try to have policies that prevent shoplifting before it even happens,” says Montova. In addition to banning backpacks, the store also has a policy about keeping store owners engaged, placing them at the front of the store where they can intervene in potential shoplifting situations.
2. Organize Store Layout to Thwart Shoplifting
Another way Montova combats theft is by organizing his store layout so that the displays naturally deter shoplifting.
According to information found on Fit Small Business, the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention revealed that most shoplifters (73%) steal in response to an impulse. So, with deterrents in place, shoplifters are less likely to act on their impulses. Below are several ways music stores can organize interior layouts for better shoplifting prevention:
- Create an open floor layout that makes most of the store visible.
- Keep displays low to eliminate the dividing of store visibility.
- Move small or easily stolen items up front, closer to the cash register.
- Design layout to maximize cashiers’ line of sight throughout the store while they check out shoppers.
- Make sure the store has sufficient lighting to eliminate dim corners, aisles or alcoves.
Joe Frawley, a former police sergeant at Cambridge, MA, police department and former owner of Eastern Security Inc., also advises retailers to post shoplifting signs and security mirrors. Shoplifting signs can be effective theft deterrents and are important for legal reasons, while security mirrors are a low-cost option for stores with taller shelving or secluded areas.
Strategically placed video security cameras and monitors allow retailers to keep an eye on customers and employees, as well as providing the obvious visual deterrent to potential shoplifters. While advanced security camera systems can be expensive, according to Business.com, a basic video surveillance system can be purchased for as little as $300.
3. Train Employees in Theft Prevention
“Your first line of defense is your staff,” says Fit Small Business. “You should educate them on how to prevent shoplifting and employee theft.”
Four common ways employees can help with theft prevention include the following:
- Be on high alert during peak hours, opening, and closing.
- Be vigilant in keeping an eye on shoppers with bulky clothing, handbags, strollers, etc.
- Stay up to date on theft tactics such as label switching, returning merchandise, theft in changing rooms, etc.
- Be aware of shoppers who spend a lot of much time watching staff, as well as those who enter and exit the store without buying anything, or share a dressing room with multiple people.
“There are many devices, systems and such to combat shoplifters, but none of these are a good as trained, personable people,” says Bill Harvey, president and CEO of Buddy Roger’s Music.
It’s a sentiment that Anthony Mantova shares. In fact, the employees at Two Street Music have been trained to be vigilant and to look for the telltale signs of shoplifting. “It’s easy once you see the usual signs,” says Montova. “If you get close to them, talk to them and make them uncomfortable, they’ll leave.”
4. Conduct Inventory Checks
In addition to a well-trained team of employees who are observant, Gayle Beacock of Beacock Music recommends regular inventory checks and cycle counts.
“This helps us keep our eye on things and address situations before there is a big problem,” says Beacock, who performs cycle counts every Friday.
Remember, too, that internal theft can be an even bigger problem than shoplifting. Bill Harvey, of Buddy Roger’s Music, suggests that retailers hire good people, along with having effective checks and balances in place. “Take inventory using people from the office or outside—never people working in the store,” says Harvey. “Overall, avoid having one person making the sale, depositing the money [or] filling out the daily worksheet.”
5. Provide a High Level of Customer Service
“The #1 way to stop shoplifting is to provide a high level of customer service and to engage the suspicious customer with conversation,” states Bill Everitt, president of Brook Mays Music. “Shoplifters do not want to be engaged by a sales associate. They want to be ignored.”
It’s a tactic Anthony Montova employed after spotting a man trying to steal accessories in his California music store—he engaged the shoplifter in conversation until the man became uncomfortable and left.
By the end of 2017, U.S. businesses were losing roughly $60 billion annually to retail shrinkage—with the vast majority of the losses attributable to retail theft.
While there’s no bulletproof way for music retailers to keep their shops 100% theft-free, there are plenty of theft-reduction solutions they can use now to lower their risk of shoplifting.
Just ask music store owner, Anthony Montova, whose policies and procedures—many of which were covered in this article—are used every day to help prevent shoplifting before it even happens.
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