5 Quick and Easy Tips for Protecting Your Retail Store Against Theft


According to the 2015 National Retail Security Survey, shrinkage amounted to an estimated $44 billion in losses for retailers in 2014. Shoplifting made up about 38% of inventory loss while employee theft was a close second at 34.5%.

The unfortunate truth is, industries like Apparel and Accessories, Health and Wellness, Personal Care and Beauty and Electronics are especially prone to experiencing theft. Luckily, it seems like those numbers may start to decline as a new radio frequency identification (RFID) tag has hit the retail scene.


Advanced E-Textiles, has created a micro-electronic RFID tag that is changing the face of your typical unwieldy, difficult to produce tag. The tag is washable and comes in thread-form, allowing it to be sewn directly into each garment during the manufacturing process. It is only detected via radio waves, making it imperceptible to the consumer.

While the RFID industry is slated to make as much as $18 billion by 2026, as a retailer, it’s not the only method of loss prevention at your disposal. “Current RFID tags are difficult to manufacture and incorporate into textiles because they’re bulky and they don’t guarantee washability or durability,” says Dr. Anura Rathnayake, founder and CEO of Advanced E-textiles. “They are also easily recognizable, hence making the garment more vulnerable for theft.”

Experts see a definite potential for mass adoption of this new tag by retailers, as companies like Zara, Kohl’s, and Macy’s continue to invest in RFID technology. However, it isn’t exactly accessible to smaller craft businesses with lower budgets. So what can you do to protect your wares?

Firstly, be choosy. When it comes to your suppliers, try to select products packaged in a manner that would likely dissuade theft. If that’s not possible either, there are still several simple, affordable yet effective ways to guard your shop(s) against theft, such as:

  • Be organized – keep a limited amount of merchandise on the floor, it will make it easier for you to notice if something’s missing. You should also have a system in place for managing your inventory (both tracking sales and counting stock) so that you know what merchandise should be in your store at all times.
  • Be diligent – learn to recognize the signs. Keep on the lookout for common shoplifting behaviors such as coming in in groups, label switching, phoney returns or other suspicious behavior. There’s no need to be be paranoid but a little attentiveness goes a long way.
  • Be a team player – much like with protecting your online customer against data security breaches, loss prevention should involve your entire team. Again, have an action plan in place. Even if you have a designated person in charge of security, it still helps for the entire team to be on the same page.
  • Be friendly – keeping a close eye on customers shouldn’t come across as intimidating. Simple things like keeping a fully staffed store at all times and greeting each customer at the door signify that you’re there for them if they need it but also give you the peace of mind in knowing that nothing is likely to happen right under your nose. Training staff to keep calm and use code words to alert each other of possible shoplifting is also a great way to keep your guard up without sacrificing great customer service.
  • Be upfront research has proven that things like mirrors and signs featuring eyes encourage compliance simply because those who are up to no good don’t like seeing themselves or feeling like they’re being watched. Otherwise, basic signs are a great visual cue to ward off any potential thieves.

What do you do if you catch someone in the act? Laws change from state to state, country to country. However, in most cases, you can only detain someone suspected of shoplifting once they’ve left your store (or have gone past all points of purchase). While you cannot take justice into your own hands, you may be allowed to detain them long enough to alert the authorities.