For as long as there have been vendors there have been those looking to skim the cream from the top of the retail pie. But where once a burly security guard armed with a steely gaze was the best form of theft protection, now retailers have a lot more tools at their disposal to keep retail shrinkage at bay.

These are the three frontiers of retail security and the technological innovations to protect your domain.


According to the Global Theft Barometer shoplifting remains a prime concern for most bricks and mortar stores, contributing to a whopping 38% of retail shrink.

The most commonly stolen items are those easy to conceal and resell like batteries, mobile phones, spirits, fragrances, beauty products, fashion accessories and footwear.

For the retailer this presents the conundrum of allowing consumers to access their products – to feel them, test them and experience them – while protecting items from theft.

RFID tagging, which allows the retailer to track stock and identify the type of items being stolen, has gone a long way to addressing the issue, but there are a host of other alternatives at a retailer’s disposal including benefit denial options like ink tags, CCTV and visible deterrents like locked cabinets.

Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) combined with RFID gives retailers the dual security of inventory management and real time stock information, while a store wide approach that features an interplay of techniques provides the best defense.

However, in a Forbes article Paul Bessant of Retail Knowledge notes the biggest problem in retail remains the environment.

“Good salesmanship and modern store layout is the equivalent of having a house sale,” he explains. “It is like opening your garage and front door to total strangers and then sitting in your back yard and facing your neighbor’s fence.”

The solution? – Improved layout like having the register at the entrance, more attentive customer service, and additional security technology for high value items like tablets, phones and electronics through anchored cable locks, stands and alarms.

And if you think it’s just merchandise taking an unexpected walk, think again. Fixed hardware like Point of Sale tablets and information kiosks are also targeted items of theft. The solution here is lockable stands, terminals and anchored hardware from retail reputable providers of ipad retail stands.

Dishonest employees

It’s not just outsiders getting in on the theft action. Dishonest employees actually account for the most theft, comprising 39% of retail shrink globally according to the most recent Global Theft Barometer.

Fortune notes in the US this equates to $18 billion or $2.3 billion more than shoplifting. And the place it usually occurs is at the register according to Ernie Deyle, a 30-year veteran of the retail loss-prevention expert from Sysrepublic.

“Usually it happens during checkout, when an associate manipulates a transaction to benefit themselves or someone else,” says Deyle. Employees might, for instance, enter refunds, discounts, or voided transactions into a cash register. They can also “cancel transactions, modify prices, or say someone used a coupon when they didn’t.”

The key strategies for mitigation are video surveillance, Cloud based real-time monitoring of your Point of Sale, good old-fashioned employee screening along with checking staff bags as they enter and leave the store and vigilant reconciliation of your accounts.

Digital theft

Unfortunately retail loss isn’t just confined to physical items, with fraud, card skimming and data theft of customer details also among the items targeted by those with a sinister agenda.

According to recent statistics British Retail Crime Statistics published in European Supermarket Magazine, more than 53% of retail fraud is now cyber enabled, which is pertinent not only to online retailers but bricks and mortar stores who work in an omni-channel environment.

Last year’s malware attack on Wendy’s restaurants is testament to the dire impacts of that trend. In that instance 1025 restaurant POS terminals were infected with malware, enabling fraudsters to “remotely steal cardholder names, card numbers, expiration dates, verifications values, service codes and other data”, according to Forbes.

The solution involves educating employees to the dangers of opening unfamiliar emails and attachments, regularly changing POS passwords and logins, utilising firewalls and, as a minimum, installing anti-virus protection.

On another front, retailers should carefully monitor their gift card and loyalty codes, with these details particularly susceptible to online sharing.

The final word

Just as the retail environment becomes increasingly innovative in its drive to entice consumers in a new-age digital world, so too do those looking to take advantage in any security loopholes. The key is to remain a step ahead of the game, knowing your weak spots and combating them through a variety of technological and real-world means.