- Best Loss Prevention Jobs
The best loss prevention jobs include a wide variety of tasks. The retail loss prevention field offers a wide spectrum of career options and a tremendous potential for professional growth that makes this industry one of the hidden treasures of the occupational market place. Many are attracted to the industry by the excitement of investigations while having an active role in executing the company’s initiatives and fulfilling its goals.
The responsibilities of today’s loss prevention professional goes well beyond the expected physical security, internal theft resolution, shoplifting and retail shrink, to now include safety and risk, organized retail crime, fraud, data protection, crisis management, business continuity, supply chain integrity, mobile technology, e-commerce, and workplace violence to name a few.
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Today’s LP professional is both teacher and trainer, one who drives ideas and influences the business while building programs, monitoring compliance and managing the loss prevention function in the ever changing landscape of the retail industry. Today’s LP professionals have the ability to impact millions of dollars in bottom line profitability of the world’s largest retailers while mentoring, guiding and developing tomorrow’s leaders.
For those seeking the best loss prevention jobs, there are many paths available within the profession. These career paths include:
• Retail loss prevention
• Supply chain loss prevention
• Organized retail crime investigations
• Corporate loss prevention
• E-commerce & financial fraud
• Brand protection
• Risk management
• Ethics & compliance
• Internal audit
• Corporate investigations
Among the various types of retail stores, department stores are generally the largest employers of loss prevention officers. The average Loss Prevention Investigator in the United States earns approximately $14.45 per hour. Earnings sit near $10.70 per hour on the lower side but can approach $19.87 on the higher side. Annual pay ranges from $30,712 to $70,104.
Rosamaria Sostilio, Senior Vice President of Asset Protection at Saks Incorporated and Vice Chair of the National Retail Federation’s LP Advisory Council, says, "Loss prevention professionals are becoming more engrained in the retail business and companies are realizing the talent that’s out there. LP touches almost every part of the business, so the more business savvy you are, the more interested you are in learning about your own company, the farther you can go into a senior officer position, not just in LP, but in other areas from HR to operations."
- Loss Prevention Definition
A loss prevention definition, at its most basic level, states that loss prevention is about preventing losses and shrink, and enhancing the profitability of retail companies. However, the loss prevention definition that many professionals would offer has grown increasingly complicated as various functions, philosophies, tasks, and responsibilities are debated by the LP community.
Rapid changes in retail, enabled by new technologies, mean that the way consumers shop, the products they buy, and even the way they pay for goods and services are all changing in ways that never would have been expected just a few years ago.
Technology is driving trends in areas such as mobile POS, emerging selling concepts, and business analytics. Intelligent CCTV systems with analytics technology will continue to have a bearing on how LP performs in the stores, but will take on additional value as part of other retail applications. Use of data and predictive indicators, cloud computing, and business intelligence will enhance processes as well as investigations.
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Many also believe that RFID technology will finally take on a bigger role in effectively managing inventories, from original purchase or manufacture until it ends up in a customer's hands. This may also expand the role of LP into areas that until now were considered non-traditional, such as energy savings, SKU rationalization, accident reduction, and business continuity.
The emergence of omni-channel retailing as a growth driver will have a substantial impact on the role of loss prevention. As described by one industry leader, "As the retail industry continues to consolidate, increase in complexity, and expand omni-channel solutions, the role of LP will change significantly." Omni-channel retailing will enable customers to purchase what they want, when they want it, and decide how they want to pay for it and have it delivered.
The move toward the infinite store is creating new areas that need to be secured, such as networks and customer data. LP professionals are increasingly being asked to bring their specific skills into areas where they never participated before, causing a shift in responsibilities.
For example, the dual role of increased data and analytics will create a shift in thinking that will change many roles in retail, including LP, which will work more closely with IT departments going forward. Thus a loss prevention definition in the near future will also include an expanded, more proactive leadership role to ensure data is secured and properly managed, because data breaches cost companies in many ways beyond the immediate financial losses, to include litigation, brand protection issues, and additional sales impact.
- Omni-channel Retailing
Omni-channel retailing is the newest trend in retail selling which allows customers to buy and return merchandise in a huge variety of ways. A customer can place an online order at an in-store kiosk to be shipped to her house. He can place an order from his mobile device to be picked up at a local store. If she doesn’t like the color of the new curtains she ordered through the online customer rewards program, she can return them to the nearest brick-and-mortar store to save on shipping.
Because of fewer in-store transactions and changing retail technology trends such as the increased use of chip cards, loss prevention professionals expect to have to deal more with online credit card fraud of various kinds. Additionally, the move toward the infinite store is also creating new areas that need to be secured, such as networks and customer data.
LP professionals are increasingly being asked to bring their specific skills into areas where they never participated before, causing a shift in responsibilities. "Retailers are going to continue to find creative ways to conduct business and sell to customers. Loss prevention will need to stay very close to these creative methods and retailing channels to ensure LP practices are appropriately woven into the strategies that our merchants and operators develop," claims one retail leader.
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The dual role of increased data and analytics will create a shift in thinking that will change many roles in retail, including LP. While IT has been the primary business owner in most retail companies, many LP professionals believe that loss prevention in an omni-channel retailing world must take on an expanded, more proactive leadership role to ensure data is secured and properly managed.
"Breach avoidance and protection of consumer and company proprietary information will continue to be a focal point for retailers for many years to come," says one retailer. Retail data breaches are costing companies in many ways beyond the immediate financial losses, to include litigation, brand protection issues, and additional sales impact.
According to another industry leader, "Having the LP organization partnered with the IT security organization will be the most effective way to improve security of both the actual data and the physical devices that collect and manage the data." This includes coordinating investigative approaches and law enforcement relationships in the event of a breach.”
- Organized Retail Crime
Organized retail crime (ORC) deals with professional shoplifters, crime networks, cargo theft, Internet crimes, and other organized criminal activities that occur in the retail setting. These highly organized, often mobile, and sometimes complex structures and hierarchies provide a tremendous threat to the retail industry.
ORC involves the association of two or more persons engaged in illegally obtaining retail merchandise through both theft and fraud as part of an unlawful commercial enterprise. The primary objective of these professional crime rings is to target retailers across a geographical area or cyber network, stealing from these organizations for the purpose of turning products into financial gain, rather than for personal use.
ORC groups are commonly involved in sophisticated, well-planned shoplifting incidents, check and credit card schemes, manufacturing fraudulent receipts or price tickets, gift card scams, cargo theft incidents (where goods are stolen or hijacked during transit), and a host of other organized theft events. These criminal activities have become a nationwide problem occurring at an increasing scale, costing retail companies and consumers billions of dollars every year.
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The dramatic growth of organized retail crime and the unfettered resale of stolen and fraudulently obtained goods have caused significant concerns throughout the retail industry, and to the global economy as a whole. In addition to the tremendous losses incurred, the illegal income from the expanding theft and resale of stolen retail goods is believed to benefit those engaged in other forms of criminal activity, such as drug trafficking, violent crimes, gang activity, and even terrorism. Working in teams, these groups can move from store to store, and even city to city, wreaking havoc on the retail industry.
Many retailers have countered the ORC problem by adding organized retail crime investigators and task forces to their loss prevention program. ORC investigators will track the movement and patterns of the professional ORC groups, developing intelligence that can be given to law enforcement agencies. Investigations tend to focus on where the stolen items are going, as opposed to simply apprehending the store-level shoplifter. Investigators will work with multiple law enforcement jurisdictions or agencies in their attempts to shut down the entire criminal enterprise.
- Retail Data Breach
A retail data breach is a security incident in which sensitive, protected or confidential data has been copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen or used by an individual unauthorized to do so. Data breaches may involve financial information such as credit card or bank details, personal health information (PHI), personally identifiable information (PII), trade secrets of corporations, intellectual property, or other confidential information.
The retail industry has become a primary target for malicious cyber activity, with both individuals and criminal networks trying to steal financial information, identity information and credit card information. But issues have the potential of going even deeper. As demonstrated by recent data breach incidents, there is even the potential for business strategies, processes, products, and other valued information to be targeted by those seeking to pirate intellectual property and related business assets.
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There are many different ways that these breaches can occur, which is part of what makes it such a complex issue. Some methods are fairly unsophisticated, exploiting people’s natural inclination to trust others. Other methods may be much more sophisticated, with the cyber criminals investing in any number of intricate tools that will allow them to hack into the retail information system.
While such threats can never be eliminated entirely, a key aspect of any data protection policy is managing the potential risks. This involves understanding what our vulnerabilities may be, where our vulnerabilities may occur, what the potential consequences might be, and working together internally as a team to minimize those vulnerabilities.
As the volume of information that is shared over the Internet continues to increase, the potential for harm from network threats also increases. Unfortunately, this has resulted in heightened attempts to compromise systems as new and more malicious threats to network security are being developed. Consequently, those tasked with defending these networks must continuously educate themselves on the different types of network threats and take the necessary steps to prevent and deter retail data breaches.
- Retail Shrink
In the retail environment, the term “shrink” or “shrinkage” refers to the difference between the amount of merchandise (or inventory) that the company owns on its books, and the results of a physical count of the merchandise. Shrink can come in many forms, and impact a business in many different ways. The primary causes of retail shrink include operational errors, internal issues, and external losses.
• Operational errors can involve POS software glitches, paperwork issues and other operational missteps. These incidents typically occur when processing a transaction, receiving merchandise, shipping merchandise, or taking inventory.
• External losses can involve theft by customers (primarily shoplifting), issues involving vendors, or other incidents that pertain to those not working for the company.
• Internal losses are the result of incidents that involve store associates and other company employees who take advantage of opportunities to steal from the company.
In addition to theft issues, damage, waste and spoilage can directly contribute to a company’s losses.
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When merchandise is stolen or otherwise unaccounted for, it not only impacts the company as a result of the missing product, but also skews our inventories in other ways. This not only impacts current sales, but also affects product replenishment and future sales as well. This can have a significant impact on the bottom line, and a direct influence on the health of the company. Every year, shrink issues cost retail businesses tens of billions of dollars. This is a real and growing problem that affects all of us in a variety of different ways.
This is a much more complicated problem than simply accounting for the theft of merchandise and the direct loss of profits. Managing shrink is a critical aspect of inventory control, which involves the management of the supply, accessibility, storage, and delivery of the company’s goods. As a result, retail shrink reduction strategies require a multifaceted and broad-based approach in order to successfully manage the process.
- Retail Technology Trends
This involves the latest advancements, use, and application of technologically-based products, techniques, methods or processes (for example, those used with machines, computers, and other devices) used in the retail environment.
New, enabling technologies are blossoming across the retail landscape, and understanding the use and application of these tools has become a top priority. Only by serving the changing needs, preferences and behavior of the customer will retailers and brands effectively meet today's hyper-connected consumers on their terms, across all channels of interaction.
Retail decision-makers are increasingly recognizing the value of data and insight-driven tools, and many critical business decisions will continue to rely heavily on information and analytics. Omni-channel retailing and big data have become mainstream. In stores and on the sales floor, high-tech tools help balance inventory systems, manage ordering and track pricing. Mobile payment devices and apps that provide cashless capabilities are coming into play. Customer tracking tools increase customer satisfaction by enhancing shoppers' in-store experience. Loyalty concepts are again part of the marketing conversation due to newly accessible consumer data via apps, social media, and mobile devices.
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On the executive level, technology improves planning and decision making. Various data-mining software solutions help make stocking, pricing and marketing decisions, as well as improve product design and development. All of these high-tech innovations help retailers stay competitive in terms of convenience, price, size and speed. Moving forward, retailers will continue to invest in data-driven marketing and demand-driven retail strategies to enrich the shopping experience.
From a loss prevention perspective, retail technology trends also become an essential aspect in the evolution of the profession. Our understanding of these tools helps us to keep pace with the ongoing changes across the retail landscape and the potential challenges that can result. It's in the best interest of every loss prevention professional to become more familiar with the latest trends in retail technology. As our roles and responsibilities grow and develop, our ability to stay current will only grow more crucial to our success.
- Rfid Technology
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a product identification method that relies on storing and remotely retrieving data using RFID tags. This technology aids primarily in the accountability and identification of product. Unlike UPC bar codes, RFID technology does not require contact or line of sight for communication. This system enables automatic identification of any material object or inventory item without scanning individual labels or tags.
The RFID tags are integrated circuits that include a small antenna, using electromagnetic fields to transfer data. The tagging system includes the tag itself, a read/write device, and a host system application for data collection, processing, and transmission. The RFID reader transmits an encoded radio signal to the tag. The tag receives the message and then responds with its identification and other data. This may simply be a unique tag serial number, or may contain product-related data such as a stock number, lot or batch number, or other specific information. Since tags have individual serial numbers, the RFID system design can discriminate among several tags that might be within the range of the RFID reader and read them simultaneously.
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RFID tags that contain their own power source are known as active tags. An active tag has an on-board battery and periodically transmits its ID signal. Active tags have more memory and can be read at greater ranges. Those without a power source are known as passive tags. A passive tag is cheaper and smaller because it has no battery. This type of tag is briefly activated by the radio frequency scan of the reader. The electrical current is small—generally just enough for transmission of an ID number.
Systems are flexible and adaptable, able to read large amounts of tagged items at once and allowing for various applications. RFID tags can be applied to or incorporated into a product, allowing for various applications. They are typically small enough that they are not easily noticeable and therefore can be placed on many types of objects. This technology is continuing to grow in use and application.
To shoplift is to knowingly obtain goods or merchandise from an establishment in which they are displayed for sale, without paying the purchase price. This act can include carrying, hiding, concealing, or otherwise manipulating merchandise with the intent to steal it.
Shoplifting issues are the most common contributors to external shrink, having developed into a multibillion-dollar problem that ultimately affects each and every one of us. Not only do these losses affect a company’s bottom line in a variety of different ways, but they also impact us as consumers in the form of higher prices, fewer choices, greater inconveniences, and a reduction in services as businesses attempt to find ways to fight external theft incidents and recover damages.
Shoplifters are not bound by age, gender, race, social background, or any other traits that make us unique and distinctive as human beings. This type of theft isn’t always based on need, and many different incentives may influence the motivation to steal. While every situation has its own merits, the motivations for shoplifting can be as different as the individual.
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Unfortunately, many amateur shoplifters fail to think through the potential consequences of their actions, or misjudge the potential risks of being caught, and make a poor decision. And for the professional shoplifter, their evaluation of risk and reward is based on different motives. Rather, the decision to steal has more to do with the availability, accessibility, demand for and value of the merchandise. When the attraction of the merchandise is coupled with the opportunity to take the items for profit or gain, they see the risk as justified.
Opportunity is often a primary element in the formula for theft. This is also the type of theft motivation that loss prevention professionals have the greatest probability of deterring, and is often at the center of many of training and awareness programs. By providing good customer service and maintaining appropriate controls, many of the opportunities for shoplifting and theft can be eliminated.