Bystander No More: Today’s Best Solutions Are Being Developed through LP Collaboration with Vendors

Sponsored by Checkpoint High-Theft Solutions

Loss prevention practitioners need not assume the role of spectator in the development of theft prevention solutions. With the right vendor partner, you now can have a voice in the process—and together create products that push your protection effort forward.

“We’ve seen an evolution from the days of having to make due with whatever a vendor had to sell you,” explains Stuart Rosenthal, vice president of sales for Alpha solutions at Checkpoint Systems, a leader in inventory management and loss prevention systems. “Retailers are now creating partnerships with vendors and working together to develop solutions that meet a retailer’s particular needs.”

Retailer/vendor partnerships have been a catalyst to innovation in loss prevention, according to Rosenthal. It has been driven, in part, by unmet needs. “Retailers were becoming dissatisfied with having to settle for solutions that didn’t fit their needs,” he explained. “At the same time, there were positive changes in the vendor arena, including former LP executives moving over to the vendor side.”

A more mature, synergistic relationship emerged. “It’s helped people on both sides of the equation to look at things differently,” he said. LP started to view vendors as solution partners—not just providers.

The transformation has yielded positive results for retail end users, like in the partnership between Checkpoint and DICK’S Sporting Goods. Their cooperative product development effort is a subject of focus in a recent issue of Stores, the magazine of the National Retail Federation. The article describes how the two worked together to modify an anti-theft solution originally designed to guard power tools to prevent the theft of baseball gloves. The resulting Alpha Bug Tag 2 Snare by Checkpoint allows for an inviting open product display—and supplements traditional electronic article surveillance tag security. Any attempts to cut the coiled cable or the CableLok’s adjustable lanyard results in the Bug Tag 2 module alarm. It is a substantial improvement over prior glove security measures, which comprised of padlocks, aviation cables, and protruding wires. Trust, communication, and a certain willingness to experiment helped to drive the jointly derived solution, according to the report.

For retailers, the chief value of today’s more cooperative environment is the ability to help craft solutions that are tailor-made to the unique challenges a retailer faces. “In the past, retailers had to simply make things fit, but now they’re helping to create new products that address their specific issues,” said Rosenthal. “That helps to broaden the thinking of everyone involved regarding how products can be designed to meet their needs.”

Partnerships are not only changing how things are done—but where. “One of the big changes is that we now spend a lot more time meeting with customers in the retail stores, rather than in their offices. We’re looking at their locations, we’re looking at how they display their products, and examining how they’re going about protection,” said Checkpoint’s Rosenthal.

Solutions then emerge from that hands-on collaboration. Products are developed that fit how retailers want to display their products—rather then protection solutions dictating how retailers can display them.

Once Checkpoint identifies a customer need and establishes a business case for it, they then work to design a product that will scale to the marketplace. At each step of development, the company goes back to its retail partners for feedback, including for examination of prototypes to gauge how a solution functions and performs in real-world environments. Checkpoint only goes into production when they have complete assurance that the final product will either alleviate customers’ problems or provide them with new opportunities.

The company also works on an industry-wide scale to brainstorm and create new loss prevention solutions, including spearheading a global product protection task force to design products that provide true benefit denial, with the goal of helping the industry fight back against organized retail crime.

On the retailer side of these new partnerships, it is mostly LP executives and field teams that collaborate with vendors’ product development team. “However, more and more, we are interacting with store operations, merchandising, and buyers,” said Rosenthal.

Who should retailers make available to work with vendor partners? “This is really a good question,” said Rosenthal. “There is the obvious, the person who is the decision-maker, but as important is getting buy-in on the usefulness of the products by the field and store teams [LP and store personnel]. After all, they are the end users. As you move into RFID and software solutions you need to have relationships with IT, store operations, senior management, and inventory management teams.”

Rosenthal advises LP leaders not to be satisfied with taking a back seat. Tools are being developed that they one day will use in their stores—either with or without their input. “They shouldn’t just settle for what’s out there,” said Rosenthal. “They should challenge their vendor partners and work with them to come up with new solutions.”

Ultimately, partnering with reliable vendors is vital for LP success, so that new solutions keep pace with changes in retail operations and emerging threats to merchandise. “A lot of what we do is based solely based of voice of customers, and all of our products come from some form of collaboration with customers,” said Rosenthal. “It’s important. For product protection to evolve, the more collaboration, the better.”

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