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Using Identification Technology to Prevent Retail Theft in Stores

Retail TheftTheft has been an issue in retail stores for decades, and it is especially pertinent in today’s landscape, as online stores have resulted in more competition for in-person boutiques and lower profits. With such a disastrous impact on the bottom line, it’s worth exploring different techniques and tactics that can be used to minimize retail theft, and the chances thieves will get away with your inventory.

Staff training

Any and all new methods you integrate to stop theft will ultimately need to be run through your staff. This is where having a thorough training program comes in handy; using timely training sessions and meetings to keep your staff aware of all anti-theft tactics and systems can be the difference between monthly profitability and loss.  It is recommended to encourage active surveillance during shifts, wherein staff should address incoming shoppers, look for potential threats and vulnerabilities, and ensure all systems are functioning correctly.

RFID identification and tracking

From the moment inventory enters the store to when it leaves, every item can be tracked and traced quickly and accurately using RFID tags. RFID provides many advantages over barcodes:

  • Scan multiple items simultaneously
  • No need for a direct line-of-sight
  • Can be used alongside barcodes using a thermal-transfer RFID printer
  • Provides a high level of security
  • Tags can be re-encoded
  • Can be adapted to almost any label

Outfitted with an efficient RFID tracking system, any attempt to leave the store with unpaid items will result in an immediate alarm. Additionally, RFID tags can be used to process incoming items relatively quickly, providing more benefits than utilizing only barcodes. Note that barcodes and RFID can also be combined in the same label, providing a supplementary method of item identification in case any defect occurs with RFID scanning.

Autonomous monitoring and surveillance systems

Artificial intelligence (AI) is now being integrated into surveillance systems worldwide, allowing them to assess behavioral patterns and suspicious activity. Facial recognition and image enhancement are also techniques that can make identifying individuals suspected of theft easier. In most cases, merely having high-tech cameras and equipment out in the open acts to deter most criminal activity, as thieves will be wary of providing evidence against them if caught.

Anti-theft signage

Large labels and signage should be used in areas around the store that are visible to customers, indicating that anti-theft measures are in place. Psychologically, this provides a deterrent to thieves as it informs them that management takes theft seriously and actively monitors potential criminal activity.

While no store is entirely free from incident, it is possible to minimize losses due to theft using these tactics. RFID, in particular, has the potential to not only act as an efficient tracking method for inventory but also to ensure its security over the long term and prevent thieves and counterfeiters alike from taking a bite out of sales.

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Alexander Goldberg, Ph.D.
The scientific writer and social media manager at GA International. Dr. Alex Goldberg earned his Ph.D. in biology and previously worked as a post-doc in toxicology and medicine, studying chronological lifespan in yeast, anti-neoplastic small molecules, and the genetics of tuberous sclerosis complex.

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