Home Improvement Retail Theft Prevention

Prevent Shoplifting: 7 Tips for Home Improvement Retail Theft Prevention

Mar 07, 2023

Shoplift­ing is a per­sis­tent prob­lem for home improve­ment retail­ers across the coun­try, from big-box and spe­cial­ty sup­ply stores to inde­pen­dent hard­ware shops.

There are mul­ti­ple caus­es for loss of inven­to­ry — or shrink — with­in the retail indus­try, includ­ing inter­nal theft and dam­age, but exter­nal thefts remain the lead­ing cause. The issue has grown over the past few years, with labor short­ages strain­ing retail estab­lish­ments and the pop­u­lar­i­ty of online shop­ping mak­ing it eas­i­er for shoplifters to offload their stolen goods.

In light of this cri­sis, home improve­ment retail­ers must step up their shoplift­ing pre­ven­tion meth­ods, with sup­pli­ers hav­ing an impor­tant role to play as well.

What are the Best Ways to Prevent Retail Theft?

Hard­ware and home improve­ment stores con­tain a wealth of high-val­ue items, and it can seem like an over­whelm­ing task to keep them secure, espe­cial­ly in large stores that are spread out or filled with blind spots. As shoplift­ing is often described as a crime of oppor­tu­ni­ty, the goal is to lim­it or under­mine the oppor­tu­ni­ty in a vari­ety of ways.

To help reduce shrink due to theft, here are a few strate­gies to employ:

1. Make a Plan and Train Employees

All home improve­ment retail­ers—regard­less of size — can pre­emp­tive­ly cre­ate a shoplift­ing plan of action and make sure it is shared with employ­ees. Part of this train­ing should involve help­ing them under­stand com­mon shoplift­ing tac­tics and signs to watch out for. Along with fea­si­ble poli­cies, pro­to­cols and tips for how to deal with shoplift­ing inci­dents, include what they should not do — both to pri­or­i­tize their safe­ty, lim­it lia­bil­i­ty, and de-esca­late sce­nar­ios. Also, research the most at-risk home improve­ment sup­plies with­in your inven­to­ry, such as pow­er tools, so you can take extra pre­cau­tions when it comes to those items.

2. Installing Anti-Theft Devices

Anoth­er typ­i­cal way to mit­i­gate shoplift­ing is to install anti-theft devices for retail stores. Secu­ri­ty cam­eras are one exam­ple. Include sig­nage that warns poten­tial per­pe­tra­tors that cam­eras are in use and you’ll take action. A secu­ri­ty alarm sys­tem is anoth­er typ­i­cal pre­ven­tion mea­sure, and, again, have a vis­i­ble post about the alarm com­pa­ny that you’re work­ing with to mon­i­tor and secure the premises. 

Oth­er rel­a­tive­ly low-cost mea­sures for small­er stores include anti-theft mir­rors to increase vis­i­bil­i­ty for employ­ees and phys­i­cal locks on cer­tain high-val­ue items or those iden­ti­fied as being at par­tic­u­lar­ly high risk for theft. Mod­ern anti-theft devices — such as locks and recoil­ers — can be cus­tomized to fit the var­i­ous shapes and sizes of equip­ment and mate­ri­als con­tained in your inven­to­ry. They can be con­fig­ured to inte­grate seam­less­ly into your store dis­plays, allow­ing cus­tomers to ade­quate­ly view and han­dle the items while mak­ing it hard­er for shoplifters to ful­ly remove them or set­ting off an alarm if they attempt to do so.

3. Leveraging Customer Service

Not all shoplift­ing pre­ven­tion meth­ods have to be overt­ly deter­rent. You can apply cus­tomer ser­vice tech­niques that are designed to both pro­vide a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence to shop­pers and also con­front exter­nal thefts. Acknowl­edge all cus­tomers and ask if they need assis­tance find­ing the right prod­ucts for their pro­fes­sion­al or DIY home improve­ment project. This alerts them that you’re being atten­tive and you’ve noticed their pres­ence. Also, it’s impor­tant to prop­er­ly staff your home improve­ment store, as shoplift­ing is more like­ly to occur when employ­ees are dis­tract­ed or over­ly busy.

4. Unlocking Tools via Technology

Pow­er tools are a big-tick­et item when it comes to shoplift­ing. One anti-theft method that some larg­er chains, such as Lowe’s, are exper­i­ment­ing with involves the use of radio-fre­quen­cy iden­ti­fi­ca­tion (RFID) chips that would be scanned at the point of sale. It is cou­pled with blockchain tech­nol­o­gy that records legit­i­mate trans­ac­tions. Home Depot has pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned the idea of try­ing a sim­i­lar sys­tem. This would allow retail­ers to essen­tial­ly unlock” tools when they’re pur­chased by a cus­tomer, and there also would be a pub­lic record of trans­ac­tions for man­u­fac­tur­ers, retail­ers, and law enforce­ment offi­cials to refer to if they need to con­firm authen­tic purchases.

5. Using Inventory Management Tools to Identify Shrinkage Trends

Make sure your home improve­ment retail store is orga­nized and laid out well — plac­ing your check­out in an opti­mal loca­tion and lim­it­ing blind spots — and ensure that you’ve adopt­ed reg­u­lar stock orga­ni­za­tion tasks into your dai­ly rou­tine. To bol­ster those phys­i­cal steps, use effec­tive inven­to­ry man­age­ment tools and estab­lish good prac­tices around them. Doing so may help you and your staff rec­og­nize shrink­ing pat­terns, enabling you to take extra mea­sures when needed.

6. Integrating Anti-Theft Measures into Product Packaging

One way that sup­pli­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers can help their retail part­ners is by incor­po­rat­ing anti-theft solu­tions into prod­uct pack­ag­ing. For instance, mak­ing pack­ages more dif­fi­cult to open dis­suades prospec­tive shoplifters from try­ing to open them in store aisles and hid­ing the items in bags or purs­es. Embed­ding secu­ri­ty fea­tures direct­ly into the pack­ag­ing is anoth­er way man­u­fac­tur­ers can con­tribute to retail loss prevention.

7. Creating In-Store Theft Prevention Displays

Although the respon­si­bil­i­ty of cre­at­ing effec­tive in-store dis­plays falls to the retail estab­lish­ments them­selves, man­u­fac­tur­ers can be sup­port­ive part­ners by help­ing to sub­si­dize such dis­plays. Pair your mate­ri­als and equip­ment with ideas for secur­ing them and con­sid­er sup­ply­ing some appro­pri­ate anti-theft devices with your items. In this way, you’re shar­ing the bur­den with retail­ers when it comes to secur­ing prod­ucts, which ben­e­fits both of you in the long run.

Improving Home Improvement Retail Security and Safety

Deter­ring shoplifters and reduc­ing retail loss is imper­a­tive for home improve­ment stores, and it requires atten­tion from both retail­ers and prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ers. To aid in this process, learn more about prod­uct pur­chase trends, changes in demand for par­tic­u­lar prod­ucts, and the home improve­ment retail sec­tor in gen­er­al through mem­ber-sup­port­ed research pro­vid­ed by the Home Improve­ment Research Institute. 

Book Your Consultation