Losses caused by shoplifting are on the rise. A liter of oil, a jar of mushrooms, a bottle of wine.
But also batteries, razors, deodorant, lipsticks: all into the inside pockets of heavy jackets, and all without paying. It's easy to hide from the cameras, security personnel, and theft-prevention devices at the exit. And even if the thief is truly unlucky and gets nabbed, it's easy to get off with little more than a bad impression.
Countries with modern retail, which is better organized, suffer fewer losses, thanks to strategic choices and the use of source tagging (anti-theft radio frequency technology). Nonetheless, the data that have emerged from the world barometer of retail theft for 2008 showed an overall shortage of three billion euro; specifically, the phenomenon of inventory differences in Europe cut into revenue by 1.38%, and into operating margins to an even great extent, up to 40%. These numbers also burden the pockets of families (estimated at 164 euro for each Italian family), who unfortunately find themselves sharing in the depreciation. Continuing with this analysis, we see that in 2008 a good 798 million euro were invested in security, and 30% of those funds went for surveillance personnel. But does it really represent an adequate solution?
It is important to understand that surveillance staff cannot search customers or inspect the bagged merchandise after they pass through the checkout (both things that officials from the criminal investigation department can do). In fact, the law is full of cases in which shop owners or security guards inspected the clientele, only to later be denounced and indicted, accused of encroachment upon public duties or even kidnapping. Added to this is the possibility of creating situations that border on infringing the protection of privacy, in which customers might begin to feel that shopping is no longer a pleasant experience, but a very stressful one.
So, what are the options? "The real turning point starts with innovative solutions," explains Luigi Frison, Marketing Manager for Datalogic Mobile EBS, "used inside the store itself. A concrete example is self scanning, which allows for reduced waiting times at the checkout and a direct interaction with the consumer, but also ensures that the retailer has a better understanding of and greater control over its customers."
Joya immediately comes to mind - it's the pod from Datalogic that offers a pleasant shopping experience that is completely independent. "The advantages of Joya in terms of building customer loyalty and optimizing time spent inside the store are well known," continues Frison, "but the reasoning goes far beyond that. The customer can only access the pod by swiping his/her store ‘fidelity card', a gesture that allows the retailer to obtain information about purchasing habits, but also about the ‘correctness' of how the independent shopping is conducted. We mustn't forget," the marketing manager continues, "that with Joya, every customer can read the products until the final receipt is printed. However, in addition to this kind of ‘electronic storage' of information, the checkout clerk also provides support and monitoring at the register, and the customer must first give the Joya pod to the cashier before receiving a receipt. Result: personal knowledge of individual customers is deeper, and the purchases are checked twice. All of this is done with full respect for privacy, since by using Joya, consumers give permission to the retailer to interact directly with them, providing information that is pertinent to how each of them shops," Frison explains. "Each customer becomes an effective member of the 'shopping community'. In that context, the security of the information (directly from the source) allows the retailer to identify the most loyal and the most honest shoppers, and possibly also to research some options to reward their loyalty."
The investment in self scanning solutions is also extensively amortized both in the short term and the long term, with a three-fold benefit: monitoring of items selected from the moment the customer enters the store until the receipt is recorded, without resorting to any invasive surveillance procedures; automatic creation of a sort of database of "friendly customers" (and conversely of those at risk); and the ability for retailers to study consumers personally in order to better direct successful marketing strategies.
"This is a concrete monitoring solution for reducing losses caused by differences in inventory," concludes Frison, "with the knowledge that you are helping to build a safe and pleasant shopping environment, giving consumers and retailers a service that offers innovative added value."