2015 National Source Tagging Symposium Retailers and CPGs Challenged to Move Forward

Charlotte, North Carolina, was the site of the 2015 National Source Tagging Symposium sponsored by Checkpoint held June 3. Over eighty representatives of both retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers spent the day discussing the momentum for source tagging and developing next steps to moving forward.

After introductory remarks by John Peterson, senior director, key accounts, and Per Levin, president and chief sales officer, merchandise availability solutions, both of Checkpoint, two senior officers from a Fortune 500 retailer that hosted the meeting made passionate appeals to the attendees to take immediate, tangible steps to implementing source tagging on high-loss products or “risk having your products pulled from our stores.”

The retailer’s chief merchandising officer bluntly told the audience that “we should be embarrassed” for the lack of progress in implementing source tagging on product lines that have a history of high theft. The senior executive for store operations supported those remarks by offering insights into how source tagging could positively impact retail operations. The executives’ remarks set the tone for the rest of the day.

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One of the highlights of the day was a panel discussion on “Common High-Risk SKU Analysis” with Bob Oberosler, group vice president, loss prevention, at Rite Aid; Erin Knight, director of product protection at CVS Caremark; and the head of loss prevention for the host company. Moderated by Carlos Perez of Checkpoint, the panelists discussed how the three companies plus a fourth retailer gave each of their top 2,000 loss SKUs to Checkpoint to analyze the data for common hot products. According to Oberosler, this was the first time in his career experience that competing retailers worked together to this extent for the common good of the industry.

Describing the process as “whiteboarding,” the retailers engaged Checkpoint as an objective third party to analyze the data and provide each retailer with aggregated results that protected the proprietary data while allowing each retailer to compare their top-loss products across the four retailers. The end result identified 5,780 SKUs that represented just 4 percent of the total products carried by the four retailers, but accounted for 50 percent of all loss. This led to a spirited discussion of how collaboration with the CPGs who manufacturer those items could make a significant impact on shrink and on-shelf availability by implementing source tagging of the top 1,000 high-loss SKUs.

Knight and Oberosler also informed the attendees about conducting surprise inspections of product diverters who supply their company with merchandise. The two companies independently inspect diverter facilities for cleaning stations and demand “pedigree” for products. If documentation cannot be provided, the diverters are cut off immediately. The two recommended that other retailers should take similar actions to help prevent stolen merchandise from being sold back to retailers.

Other presentations included:
– “Value and Impact of Visible Tagging” by Erin Knight of CVS
– “Are We Relevant, Are We Ready?” by Shawn Evans of Procter & Gamble
– “Applying Clear EAS Labels at High Speed” by Paul Nowak of QuadPackaging
– “Tesco—A Case Study in Successful Source Tagging” by Neil Matthews of Checkpoint
– “Technology Roadmap” by Seth Strauser of Checkpoint

The symposium concluded with several specific next steps. First, the retailers and CPGs agreed to meet to review their specific loss data and take appropriate action to protect the high-loss merchandise without further testing. Second, the CPGs requested that they be allowed to use a single visible tag that all retailers would agree upon to minimize the need to produce customized inventories for each retailer. The retailers agreed that Checkpoint’s Visible Clear Black Lock EAS Label would be acceptable.

For more information about this year’s source tagging symposium, contact Carlos Perez, vice president of global marketing for Checkpoint at Carlos.Perez@checkpt.com.


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