The Benefits of using Social Media Tools in your Loss Prevention Program
When we hear “social media”, we automatically think of marketers trying to promote their newest products, politicians releasing damage controlling apology statements, or celebrities over-sharing personal information that now has the world buzzing. But what if social networks were used for another purpose? Loss Prevention.
The social world has countless people blurring the lines between real life and the private sphere; appropriate behavior versus inappropriate behavior. We see friends and family members posting thoughts and activities without realizing the whole world (and I mean the WHOLE WORLD) can see what they are doing at any given moment. Words, pictures, videos, you name it… someone will see it.
Luckily, the social realm doesn’t heavily monitor WHO uses their sites (anyone with an email address can create an account and even setting up an email address can be done while waiting for your YouTube video to buffer) or WHAT is posted on their site (even if it implies illegal activities). There is a remarkable amount of visibility of ALL types of people, especially: shoplifters, dishonest employees, and unhappy customers. So why not use this to your advantage as a Loss Prevention Professional who is trying to evaluate a stores’ risk factor, the causes of shrink and food costs, or the effectiveness of an LP training program?
You have spent the time and money developing the proper procedures and implementing employee policy training to ensure that in-store processes are carried- out thoroughly, but sometimes, that may not be enough. Do your employees tweet about their lunch breaks? Do they post pictures on Facebook of themselves at work? Do their LinkedIn profiles contain their picture, the company they work at, and its location? That’s all a shoplifter needs to know! We have seen an increase of ORC (organized retail crime) groups using these social footprints to track and exploit the security policies you have worked so hard to put into place. These tiny details can leave your organization highly susceptible to shoplifting because these criminals know the inner workings of your stores.
The newest trend of ORC activities to be wary of is called “flash robs”. This is when a 5-10 minute shoplifting spree by a large group of people is coordinated online using social media as the driving vehicle. Each person grabs as many items as they can and run out of the store. If 10-20 people each having $100 worth of products, that’s $1000 - $2000 worth of stolen property. Some of these raids reach as much as 100 people participating. Can you afford $10,000 worth of shoplifting? Check your social media. Read more about it below.
We all want to think that our employees are honest, hardworking, and team players. And many of them are, but we tend to run into a few that, unfortunately, are not. This group of dishonest employees can cause more harm than good, whether they know it or not. Last year, our own John Fice (COO at LP Innovations), wrote an article called “Show Rooming: An internal thief’s online store thanks to you!” that is still very relevant to today’s conversation. Here he explains the modern take on show rooming done by employees, where they take pictures of a store’s inventory, post them online for a lesser price and wait until someone bids on it. This practice is more common than one would think. But the solution for this employee theft prevention is rather simple… check your social media! Check to see if your products are being placed online and you may help alleviate your unexplainable shrink problem.
Another important reason to have a social media component in your loss prevention program is for customer service. Are your employees following proper procedures? Are they providing great service or just okay service? Try listening to what people are saying about their shopping experience: “Woman at cashier forgot to ring up my shoes! #freeshoes”, “Just got a box of cupcakes for half off!” or even “guy charged me double for my shirt!!” If you are seeing these comments about your store, these can be red flags that there is a potential leak in your inventory which can impact your shrink or food costs or even point to an employee training problem. Tracking and reviewing EVERY transaction is not a realistic situation but, being able to periodically check in on these comments can help foresee an issue and allow for you to act proactively versus reactively in nature.
With new technology constantly emerging, we as loss prevention professionals need to learn to evolve with these new trends and be able to manipulate them as an aid in our loss prevention efforts. Social media isn’t a replacement for a well thought out LP program, but it is a great secret weapon to put in your toolbox.