Ah, the final stretch. I sure hope you’ve enjoyed, and more importantly, learned something from my little mini-series on how to spot a thief in your crowds of customers. We’ll round things out with another 5 tips on how to spot a criminal and to ultimately Stop Shoplifting altogether. So, here’s some more behavioral indicators to look for in your stores.
#11. Draping clothes around a shopping basketThis is another one of those things that I’ve seen hundreds of times. A shoplifter will take several layers of clothing and drape them around the shopping cart, to prevent seeing into the cart. At the bottom of the cart, will be a purse, or bag and it’s here that they conceal product, making it difficult for you to see what they are doing. Anytime I see a shopper doing this, I immediately head over and begin making small talk about this week’s deals, or making comments on their selection of product. This will most often discourage their actions and save you some shrink.
#12. Asking dumb questionsYes, contrary to what you were taught in school, there are in fact dumb questions. I’ve found that if you happen to startle a would-be shoplifter as they are concealing, or prepping to do so (whether intentional, or not) they often ask some really silly questions. I once turned the corner as this guy was about to conceal some pants, and he began asking me about home insurance policies. I’ve even had a guy ask me if our Checkpoint Tags were tracked by satellites. Granted, sometimes, you just have crazies that shop in the store, but distracting questions, overly odd questions and distracting behaviors could be a strong indicator of a potential thief.
#13. Wearing old and dirty shoesThis one is for all of you footwear retailers out there. If you notice a shopper come in the store with 1. No shoes or 2. Old dirty and worn out shoe, there’s a high chance they’re going to try and pull the old swithceroo. You know, where they leave you their nasty old shoes and leave with new ones, conveniently passing the cash registers. Sometimes, they don’t give two shakes if the shoes have Checkpoint Tags or not, since they’re running as soon as they hit the door. The best thing to do if you observe this is to provide the very best customer service possible. Don’t let them have a chance to swap the shoes.
#14. Bringing in bags from other retailersNow, if you’re in a mall, this probably doesn’t apply to you. If you’re a stand-alone store, this is odd. If you’re going to Stop Shoplifting, your team has to be observant of this indicator, I’ve seen folks pull into my parking lot (stand-alone store), open their trunk and pull several (full) bags from other retailers from the trunk and then come into my store with them. Before long, they were slipping some of my product into their bags. Train your team to recognize this as a potential indicator and offer to hold the bags at the service desk, or create a policy that discourages shoppers from doing this.
#15. Getting angry at service levelsThey’re not angry that there is no service, they’re angry because they’re TOO MUCH service. This is my absolute favorite indicator. Literally no honest shopper is going to turn away good customer service. I’ve had would-be shoplifter’s file corporate complaints against me because I gave them “too much” customer service. Usually, the DM and store manager thank me. 😊 If you have a customer that just gets madder than an old red hen about customer service, well, I suggest that you give them a little more. Chances are they want to be alone to steal from you!
I really hope you’ve learned something from these few tips. Often, we rely on fancy gadgets, technology and our Checkpoint Tags to identify criminals, when in reality, you can just look for a handful of behavioral indicators. While each of the previous 15 tips can help you to Stop Shoplifting, you should also understand that legitimate and honest customers can and do exhibit these same behaviors. Always use these tips as a guide and remember, providing great customer service will always win you praise from your shoppers and will make you a repellent for shoplifters.
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