As we march closer to 2020, a few common themes have emerged among the research questions that the Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) receives from its membership base. While much of our research seeks to provide insight on whether introducing a new loss prevention technology solution or policy to your retail environment will curb shrink and protect sales, members are starting to adopt the same analytical approach for what’s already in their stores.
Does the technology that’s already in your stores work? The intuition of many loss prevention professionals on this question is shifting toward skepticism. There are a few reasons behind this, some of which are logical, and some may require a second look.
It’s Not Preventing Theft Events
Loss prevention technology solutions are deployed in my stores, and I still have a significant shrink problem. This can lead to the sense that the technology isn’t deterring anyone. While it’s true that the technology failed to deter 100% of the theft events that occurred in its presence (occurred events), that’s only one third of the equation.
It’s difficult to gauge how many potential events could have occurred (total possible events), and how many were prevented (prevented events) by the technology. In order to do so, we would need to run a randomized controlled trial where we systematically remove the technology from test stores while keeping the technology deployed in control stores.
Verdict: Needs to Be Tested
Its Effect Has Waned with Time
• An onset of action,
• A peak action,
• A continued effect throughout the duration of action, and
• A return to near or at baseline.
In many cases, there is a full return to baseline: the effects ware off completely over time and the technology becomes ineffective. In other cases, the effect tails off and settles above the original baseline. A percentage of the effectiveness survives the decline of action (the “new” factor) and the technology remains effective over time.
Verdict: Often true that the effect declines, but also true that a residual effect often remains
I Need to Signal to My Coworkers and Boss that I’m an Innovator
You’ve just been put in charge of a district, or a region, or an entire loss prevention division. The guy before you installed that legacy loss prevention technology. You need to set the tone that you will be more effective than he was—that you’re innovative and willing to get with the new to get results.
We’ve all been there. There is a good chance that some of your predecessor’s initiatives aren’t effective, but there is also a very good chance that many of them are. Setting the precedent that you are a champion of results and ideas that work, no matter who is responsible for them, may be a more impactful message than that of change for the sake of change.
Verdict: Consider championing results and a higher standard of proof instead of change. Test which existing tech/policies work and which ones need to go.
Several current LPRC studies involve exactly what’s outlined here: randomized controlled trials (RCTs) testing the systematic removal of a technology and assessing that removals effect.