Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Stay One Step Ahead of Retail Crime

Most store-based retailers recognize the draw for shoppers of a liberal return policy. With that in mind, retailers have been issuing gift cards when someone returns an item without a receipt. This seems better than giving cash or refusing outright to take back the item.
     However, the National Retail Federation’s “2013 Organized Retail Crime Survey” results indicate the thieves are already a step ahead: About 78% of retailers of all sizes report having been victims of a scam in which people exchange for a gift card merchandise which they’ve stolen, and then sell or exchange the gift card—perhaps at a discount—online, at a pawn shop, or at a check cashing store.
     Other studies have shown that people are less likely to steal from small to midsize retailers than from large retailers. Therefore, your chances of being victimized with this scam might be much less than 78% if you do choose to use gift cards for returns-without-receipts. Still, you’d be wise to use a research-based, experience-tested method to get ahead of the crooks:
     When someone comes to the returns counter, ask them to tell you the reasons for the return, and then record those reasons along with the person's identification information. Never make this procedure a prolonged inquisition, but your request should be more than the formality of checking a box for the category of reason. It should be a brief interview. As word gets around that you do this, the dishonest consumers become more likely to decide to take their business elsewhere. And that's fine with you, since their business is fraud.
     NRF suggests you consider tracking how often a shopper asks you to confirm the value of a gift card. This could give you insight about how often you’re subject to the scam. The logic is that people who obtained a card from a source other than the store itself will be unsure of what it’s worth.
     I agree that tracking could be informative. You also could ask how the gift card was received. That’s different, though, from becoming suspicious of shoppers who check the value of a gift card. As the “NRF ORC Survey” report says, many who get these cards don’t realize the cards are the fruits of criminal activity. We certainly don’t want to offend innocent shoppers. The vast majority of those coming into your store have no interest in stealing from you.

Click below for more: 
Ask for Specifics on Merchandise Returns 
Double Duty to Prevent Shoplifting 
Influence Who Uses Gift Cards

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