How can retailers avoid false alarms this Christmas?

During the festive season it’s vital that retailers protect themselves against increasing cases of theft while ensuring their customer base has an enjoyable shopping experience without the inconvenience of false alarms. Brian Sims offers some top tips to ensure it’s only the Sleigh Bells that are ringing this Christmas.

Shopper traffic in the UK increases by nearly 100% between the first Saturday in November and the last couple of days before Christmas. In the same period, retailers are expected to lose an estimated £1 billion as a result of shoplifting, dishonest employees and vendor or distribution losses.

False security alarms are not only frustrating and embarrassing for consumers, but also waste valuable employee time. For retailers to protect consumers and employees from possible inconvenience, every alarm must be treated as if it’s for real. Here are some handy tips to guard against false alarms and help ensure a positive shopper experience:

Test your Electronic Article Surveillance antennas
Store employees should first ensure all antennas and security equipment are working correctly. These tests should ideally be carried out each day before the store opens.

Check your deactivation systems
One of the most frequent causes of deactivation failures for retailers often occurs because the unit isn’t plugged in correctly, or because it has been unplugged accidentally. Store employees need to make sure that all deactivation systems are plugged in and functioning as they should.

Modern deactivation systems are designed to integrate seamlessly into Point of Sale procedures, ensuring the effortless deactivation of security tags when plugged in and fully operational.

Deactivate at Point of Sale
A major cause of false alarms is tags that haven’t been correctly removed from the merchandise at the Point of Sale. Hard tags and labels need to be correctly deactivated and/or removed at the Point of Sale to avoid causing the consumer an inconvenience or delay on leaving the store.

Today’s deactivation products are designed to easily integrate at the Point of Sale, with newer solutions now offering increasingly improved detection capabilities and range. This ensures a rapid checkout for your customer and worry-free deactivation every time – no matter what the size or position of the Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) label used.

False alarms can present a huge headache for retailers

False alarms can present a huge headache for retailers

Watch out for tag pollution
Tag pollution from other stores does happen. This occurs when non-deactivated tags from other retail outlets are carried out of store by consumers, in turn causing unwanted alarms. As a result, these alarms decrease the effectiveness and integrity of installed EAS systems.

Ensure your employees are correctly trained on tag pollution as per your Head Office policies.

Be aware of metallic articles
Tagged and/or metallic articles found in the vicinity of the EAS system, such as holiday decorations and displays, can cause interference. Taking more time to consider the layout and positioning of certain types of merchandise can also reduce the frequency of false alarms.

Ensure tag applications are correct
An EAS label or hard tag not applied in the right place could pose problems for retailers during deactivation. For example, EAS labels should be positioned close to the barcode so employees don’t need to scan the merchandise twice.

By ensuring all products are universally tagged and the position of security labels is uniform, retailers can then enjoy reduced false alarms.

In addition, by streamlining product tagging (or tagging products at the point of manufacture, ie source tagging) and integrating deactivation at the checkout or when a scanner is used at the Point of Sale, retailers may prevent false alarms and keep merchandise protected without placing a significant burden on store employees.

Provide training
The effectiveness of any EAS system is largely based on how colleagues interface with it. Training for new staff and refresher sessions with existing members of the team will help keep false alarms to a minimum.

Keep a log of alarms
Keeping a log of all alarm activations will help to trace false alarms and identify whether they’re being caused by staff members or a system error.

By reducing false alarms and ensuring that EAS systems can effectively prevent theft, retailers can keep products on their shelves during the holiday season and ensure customer satisfaction and reputation is safeguarded.

Fraudsters rely on festive cheer to fleece employers

As the festive season moves into full swing, KPMG’s Priya Giuliani has warned that ‘the threat from within’ is the ghost of Christmas present.

Giuliani argues that, with many businesses in a relaxed mood, employees intent on committing fraud will try to take advantage of opportunities where the usual ‘safety checks’ are relaxed, and either attempt to remove stock or simply get away with misappropriating assets.

A partner in KPMG’s Forensic Risk Consulting practice, Giuliani explained: “Money can be tight at this time of year with higher than usual spending leading to additional pressures on employees. Combine this with a time of year when targets and bonuses are assessed and it’s easy to see how employees might be tempted to falsify sales or overstate performance so they look like they’re hitting their targets.”

Giuliani added: “For many businesses, the lead-up to Christmas also represents a boost in demand. Many companies turn to temporary staff for support, but in the rush to improve customer service they may not adequately vet the new recruits. With many regular staff taking time off, the resulting lack of supervision also provides a rise in opportunities for the fraudster.”

Also, Giulani said: “We’ve also seen a marked rise in payment diversion fraud, where fake requests are made to change supplier’s bank details so that funds are diverted into the fraudster’s own bank account. Our analysis shows that cases range in value from just over £30,000 lost by one business in a single transaction to a total of £5 million extracted from another. In almost all the cases we’ve seen, fraudsters appear to be making use of openly declared business relationships.”

In conclusion, the KPMG analyst stated: “It’s particularly worrying that fraudsters often rationalise their behaviour. They may believe that they’re only ‘borrowing’ the money from their employer to tide them over an expensive Christmas, but the fact is that their actions might have serious repercussions when it comes to an organisation’s financial stability. It’s something that cannot be ignored because, if it is, any business falling victim to fraud is more likely to be a ghost to Christmas future.”

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