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The Green Sheet Online Edition

January 08, 2024 • Issue 24:01:01

Help merchants beat the nighttime crime spike

By Elie Y. Katz
National Retail Solutions (NRS)

As winter nights stretch out, casting a longer shadow over our streets, retail stores face unique challenges. It's not just the chill in the air; it's the spike in crime that comes with the darkness. In this article, I'll address these challenges head-on, offering a range of practical and effective strategies you can relay to your merchants to enhance their security during these longer winter nights.

Boosting visibility and vigilance

Increasing visibility in and around a store is a primary defense against winter crime. Good lighting, both inside and outside, makes a significant difference. Brightly lit exteriors discourage criminals, who prefer operating under the cover of darkness. Ensure all entry points, parking areas and peripheral zones are well-lit. This deters potential thieves and makes customers and employees feel safer.

Inside stores, adequate lighting helps staff monitor all activities. Smart placement of lights eliminate shadows and dark corners where theft could easily go unnoticed.

Vigilance is equally crucial. Merchants' employees are their eyes and ears on the ground. Training them to be observant and proactive can turn the tide against retail crime. Retailers should encourage employees to acknowledge every customer entering the store—a simple greeting can make potential shoplifters think twice.

Staff should be trained to recognize and respond to suspicious behavior. This doesn't mean being confrontational. Instead, it's about being present and available to offer customer assistance, which can prevent theft without causing discomfort. Regular training sessions on safety protocols and how to handle various scenarios can empower a merchant's staff, making a store a less attractive target for criminals.

Smart store design for safety

A thoughtfully designed store layout is a powerful tool in preventing retail theft. The goal is to create an environment where visibility is maximized and potential hiding spots for thieves are minimized. Retailers can arrange shelves and displays at lower heights to ensure a clear line of sight across the store. This layout not only aids in surveillance but also creates a more open, inviting space for customers.

Additionally, incorporating mirrors strategically can effectively extend the field of vision, allowing staff to monitor hard-to-see areas without being intrusive.

Technology at the forefront of defense

Incorporating panic alarm buttons into a store's POS systems is a smart move toward heightened security. These panic alarm buttons are seamlessly integrated into the POS system, allowing employees to discreetly alert law enforcement during emergencies without drawing attention or escalating the situation.

This integration is crucial, as it provides a swift and subtle way to respond to threats, be it shoplifting, armed robbery or any other dangerous situation. The strategic integration of these panic alarm buttons in every POS terminal ensures that employees are always within reach of a silent alarm ready to be activated in case of suspicious or threatening activity.

Combating internal theft

Security cameras strategically placed throughout a store provide a visual record of all activities, deterring potential internal theft and offering valuable evidence if misconduct occurs. Coupling these cameras with real-time POS transaction monitoring creates a powerful tool.

This integration allows store owners to correlate transaction data with video footage, allowing them to spot discrepancies and unusual patterns, such as voided transactions or discounts, that could indicate theft. This dual approach helps identify and address internal theft swiftly and acts as a significant deterrent, promoting a culture of honesty and accountability among employees.

Investing in robust safety measures, especially during the long, dark winter nights, goes beyond mere loss prevention; it's about creating a secure and trust-inspiring atmosphere for customers and staff. Like advanced POS systems, enhanced safety measures play a crucial role here. They streamline transactions and boost security by integrating features like panic alarms, which are invaluable during winter's extended hours of darkness.

A store known for its security becomes a preferred choice for customers, nurturing loyalty and fostering a positive community image. When customers and employees feel confident and secure, it naturally results in a more profitable business model, as customers and employees feel more confident and secure, leading to increased foot traffic, higher staff retention and, ultimately, a stronger bottom line. end of article

Elie Y. Katz is founder, president and CEO at National Retail Solutions (NRS), https://nrsplus.com. Contact him by phone at 201-715-5179 or by email at ekatz@nrsplus.com.

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