Actions and Outcomes

Walmart AP Meeting 2018 Team Photo

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Does This Mean Goodbye to Sears?

By Bill Turner, LPC

Well, it finally happened. Sears filed for bankruptcy. For now, it’s only chapter 11, so there is still hope. Toys’R’Us and Circuit City are both rumored to be making comeback attempts, and they liquidated. So you never know. Only time will tell.

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I’m willing to bet that Sears has touched almost everyone reading this post in one way or another. It’s worth looking up the history of the company online to get a feel for just how many facets of everyday life in the United States have, in some way, involved Sears. Whether with its brands such as Die Hard, Craftsman, and Kenmore, its companies such as Allstate, Land’s End, Orchard Supply, or Kmart, or with its once 3,500+ stores (including Kmart), Sears was everywhere.

I know Sears has touched my life in a number of ways. My first bike was a J.C. Higgins (Sears). My dad would buy nothing but Craftsman tools (Sears). I still do. Die Hard batteries (Sears) powered my cars for many years. I have a Kenmore (Sears) refrigerator in my laundry room and still buy all my tee shirts from Land’s End (once Sears). Last, but certainly not least, my first retail job was at Sears in Glendale, California, which I think is still there.

I worked in the marking room at night and on Saturdays. I still have dreams of pin-ticketing bras and panties by the thousands. Goldie, the foundations manager, was constantly coming to the marking room demanding more bras and panties. Ugh!

And then there were the 110-pound weight sets that we had to bring to customers from the third-floor stock room.

I met my best friend there, and we remain so to this day, some forty-nine years later.

But my most vivid memory of my time at Sears was standing in the marking room on December 1, 1969 (yes, I’m that old!). We were intensely listening to the first lottery drawing (based on your birth date) for the draft on a transistor radio. Most of us were college students, and it was at the height of the Vietnam War. All of us were hoping for a high number. We didn’t know it at the time, but the highest number ever drafted ended up being 195. But we knew higher was better. My number was 300. The guy standing next to me was 001. He joined the Navy the next day.

Lives affected by Sears? You bet. Sears has also had an impact on retail loss prevention. Some prominent retail loss prevention executives have spent at least a part of their careers at Sears, including Bill Titus (retired), Mark Stinde (now at 7-Eleven), Tom Arigi (Walmart), Stan Welch (Agilence), Suni Shamapande (PricewaterhouseCoopers), and Scott Glenn (Home Depot).

So what happened to Sears, which once had 3,500+ stores (with Kmart), tremendous brand loyalty, and at one time was the largest employer in the United States? The list of concerns is long and varied, and there are lots of opinions. In order to understand the whole story, one really needs to do a fair amount of research. But here are a few things that led to the beginning of the end:

  • Walmart, Home Depot, and Amazon
  • “Merging” with Kmart
  • Slow mastery of online retail
  • Management shake-ups
  • Lack of investment in stores and product
  • Cutting hours, pay, and headcount, thereby negatively affecting service
  • Eddie Lampert, if you believe many

As with any bankruptcy filing, it’s not over till it’s over. But Sears is a sad story nonetheless. We all want to see what happens, and most of us will look back on the many ways Sears has impacted our lives, generally in a positive way.

Walmart Asset Protection in 2018: Transforming with Technology

By Karen Rondeau

In late August, LPM Media Group was on site at Walmart’s Asset Protection National Meeting in Rogers, Arkansas, where the theme of the event centers around embracing change to enable the transformation of the business while reducing losses and accidents.

Walmart AP’s transformation journey started three years ago on their quest to achieve their aggressive shrink goal, and in August they are able to celebrate the progress that’s been made in reducing unknown shrinkage.

According to Joe Schrauder, vice president of asset protection, the shrink reduction success was not brought about by just one thing but rather the combination of many factors working together. Schrauder spoke to the fact that investments made in the stores and in the associates are working, but he emphasized that the AP leadership is to be credited for bringing the strategy to life across 4,700 stores.

Schrauder then challenged the team to deliver better results by staying ahead of change, driving innovation, and providing the leadership that will push the team to get better every day. “Change is hard, and the pace of change will not slow,” he said. “The better we become at adapting, owning, and implementing it, the easier it will get.”

To further drive this message, Schrauder shared an audio recording of former Walmart President and COO Jack Shewmaker from 1978 as he addressed the organization, highlighting this poignant point: “We must change as circumstance and time and competition and our customers require us to change.”

The AP team heard from CEO Greg Foran who stressed that the way to get better is not by luck but by hard work. He implored the team to keep building the muscle that deals with change and to enjoy the journey, explaining that the AP team is making the difference. “Great people make a big difference to the performance,” said Foran.

The team was also surprised by a visit from legendary NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, who spoke on leadership and conducted a thirty-minute question-and-answer session with Schrauder. Fifty attendees who have each experienced a great year qualified and were selected to have a private meet-and-greet with Manning.

At the event, over 500 field leadership attendees experienced hands-on rotation sessions that mirrored parts of the store—the sales floor, receiving, and front end—where teams aligned on proper processes and were challenged to solve problems they encounter on a daily basis. A dynamic safety and security rotation session stressed the importance of situational awareness and used virtual reality to engage participants with an active shooter and a tornado scenario.

As is tradition with Walmart, the meeting concluded with the annual AP awards celebrating the hard work of Walmart asset protection’s best of the best.

Walmart AP Meeting 2018 Team Photo

What It’s Like to Find and Buy EAS Detachers Online as a Shoplifter

By Mike Giblin, LPRC

Imagine that you’re away on vacation. Your home is empty and unguarded, but it’s safely locked tight while you relax on the beach. You promised you’d limit phone time, but despite yourself, you check your messages to find a link a friend has shared with you. It’s an online posting in your hometown stating, “House Keys for Sale. Will Work on Any Lock, Any House.” The listing price? Eighteen dollars with free shipping and a money-back guarantee.

While this wouldn’t be feasible in the residential world, it’s exactly the challenge that the world of retail faces daily.

In retail, stores spend thousands of labor hours each year applying and removing protective electronic article surveillance (EAS) technologies on products. It’s an elaborate and costly ecosystem, with upfront costs for the tags, wraps, and safers, replacement costs when they wear down or are stolen, labor costs for application and removal, and costs for EAS detection technology at each store exit.

These costs, however, have a tremendous payoff: they deter most kinds of shoplifters and stop an incalculable amount of shoplifting events from ever happening. They help create and reinforce an overall impression of control, as well as signal to shoppers that the store cares and isn’t “asking for theft.”

There’s an important psychological effect to reinforcing the barrier between “in the store,” where it’s okay to have products you haven’t purchased, and “out of the store.” They deter opportunists, otherwise honest shoppers who may stumble into an opportunity to steal that’s too easy to pass up. They deter low-level shoplifters, people who are only trying to steal a few hundred bucks here and there and will go elsewhere if they encounter resistance or obstacles.

But despite all of this, a lingering question keeps retailers up at night: “Why am I bothering to lock it all up if anyone can get the key?” The primary answer to that question is because can and will are two very different outcomes.

I set out to explore the underground, surprisingly accessible world of online shoplifting communities and marketplaces. I was going to try to buy the keys to the castle online, with free shipping.

First things first, I needed to take off my research scientist hat and go at this endeavor with the same set of knowledge and resources that a typical shoplifter would have-no business credentials, no insider knowledge on technologies and where to find them, and no advanced schemes. I started where I believe a typical shoplifter interested in detachers would, with Google. I conducted a series of Google searches, combined with searches on these online marketplaces: Amazon, Alibaba, Craigslist, eBay, and Walmart.

Several months ago, Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) research scientists were able to successfully purchase low-gauss magnetic detachers on Walmart.com. Walmart has since addressed this as no detacher devices of any kind were available for viewing or purchase on September 5, 2018. The final column below represents the rest of the Internet.

Alibaba and the Personal Shoplifting Concierge

Upon placing an order for a 16,000-gauss detacher on Alibaba, within twenty-four hours I received email correspondence from six different suppliers offering to fulfill my order. One supplier was particularly helpful, sending me a friendly email asking what types of tags I “use,” so she could ensure she sold me the correct detachers. She also sought me out on LinkedIn and connected with me there.

This was a curious mix of due diligence and lack of caution as she had used my ordering email address to find out who I was and seek me out. Also noteworthy is that the price for these tags was very high at $149 plus $50 shipping.

Our correspondence is captured below. In it, I simulated the experience a potential shoplifter would have, only using information and materials readily available to the public online. No verification or information was required to establish that I was placing a “business order” that could not be easily fabricated-and did not appear to be checked. Her name and business have been anonymized.

#1 First Contact
Hi Mike Giblin,
How are you, this is X from XX Limited.
We are 16000GS eas detacher factory. Please check the attached picture.
You can tell me the tags you use, so we can suggest you the best suitable detacher, different detacher used for different type tags.
Any questions,you can let me know.
Best Regards
X

#2 My Response
Hi X!
I’d like detachers for the following tags, please let me know what you can sell me:
-https://intelligentlossprevention.com/products/turtle/
-https://intelligentlossprevention.com/products/lm-tag/
-https://www.alphaworld.com/en/our-solutions/keys-detachers/multi-detacher/ There is also a version of this that requires a coded key, I’d like that as well if you can get it
-http://www.cisssinc.com/newgen-5-alarming-teather.html
-https://all-tag.com/portfolio-items/q-tag/ Will your 16,000 magnet detach this?
Thank you for your help!
Mike

#3 Her Response
Hi Mike Giblin,
–The first Turtle ,we think use 16000GS can open it, because we checked the video, it is 9000GS ,and it use the same detacher to open the spider tags. The spider tags can use this 16000GS detacher.
–The LM tags need use their speical detacher,other detacher can not open it.
–We have no the third one (Alpha S3), it is patent (sic).
–The last two likns (sic) can not be opened dear, could (sic) you please send me picture ? thanks.
Any questions,you can let me know.
Best Regards
X

#4 My Response
Sure!
#4: Here is the info from the website: The CISSSinc Gen 5 and Decoder can be customized to a unique IR signature for your brand, certain stores or even specialty zones within stores.
#5: Here is the info from the website: Q-Tag® can be RFID, along with AM and RF. It’s also the latest and greatest RFID and EAS solution that combines High Security, Versatility, Efficiency, Safety, and Marketing/Promotion.
High Security
” Q-Tag’s size, shape, and the connectivity between the tag and pin make it virtually impossible to be forcibly removed from retail merchandise.
” Q-Tag’s unique stacked RF coil offers superior EAS system detection performance to standard RF coils. Retailers no longer need large EAS tags to achieve adequate detection.
” The patented lock inside of the Q-Tag is built to withstand 110 LBs. of pull force.

Full results, including a complete chart of website results, the resolution of my conversation with X, and the metrics below, were shared in the EAS Detacher Learning Lab Breakout Session at LPRC’s 2018 Impact Conference, October 1-3 in Gainesville, FL.

  • Price ($USD)
  • Arrival time
  • Effectiveness (does it work?)
  • Forced account creation versus guest checkout
  • What personal information was necessary to complete the order

For more information, visit lpresearch.org/impact/.

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