Interview with Kevin O’Brien
O’Brien has been with LPI/DTiQ for over seventeen years and is responsible for sales within the retail enterprise markets. Drawing on over thirty years of loss prevention and operational experience, including leadership roles with The Home Depot, Bradlees Department Stores, Ames Department Stores, and Lord & Taylor, O’Brien marries clients’ goals and objectives with the correct custom programs and technology. His extensive background in program development, training and education, shrink reduction, food cost improvements, investigations, and auditing provides customers with access to advice that nets results.
What are some of the LP challenges you’ve witnessed in recent years?
Retail LP has changed a lot over the last decade, and it continues to do so at an ever-increasing rate. A 2018 National Retail Federation survey described the 2017 fiscal year for US retailers with some pretty serious numbers, putting the average shrink cost at 1.33 percent of sales, which translates to $46.8 billion in avoidable losses in the US alone. There is far more pressure on LP than ever before to combat loss, and the concerns continue to expand even though budgets for additional staff are not keeping up with the need for them and therefore having to do more with less.
What new skills are necessary in today’s LP world?
There’s no doubt that the skills needed for success are changing, and the bulk of retailers are unable to hire every new LP competency in-house. The retail organizations I work with repeatedly cite the need for analytical expertise and actionable performance reporting. These can enable management to make timely, informed decisions and focus on the specific mitigation activities that will yield the largest return.
What do retail LP organizations need to do now to prepare for the coming years?
Building on what I said above related to skills and budgets, retailers need to invest now in partnerships and technology to enable the insight they need at a price and scale that they can take on. On-the-ground LP managers can only be in one place at a time, so they need to have analytics-driven dashboards, intelligent video/point-of-sale verification, and on-demand expertise where and when they need it. It’s the only way they’ll be able to scale to meet the needs of tomorrow.
Retailers need to invest now in partnerships and technology to enable the
insight they need at a price and scale that they can take on. On-the-ground
LP managers can only be in one place at a time, so they need to have
analytics-driven dashboards, intelligent video/point-of-sale
verification, and on-demand expertise where and when they need
it. It’s the only way they’ll be able to scale to meet the needs of tomorrow.
What changes in the retail LP industry are you excited about?
LP professionals are increasingly being invited to the table for business discussions that encompass more than their traditional LP concerns, and I think that is a very good thing. When LP key performance indicators are monitored alongside other vital metrics—such as conversions, speed of service, and dwell times—the entire management team can participate in planning for the next stages of progress. Loss is not just about shrink, after all. Other studies also estimate:
- $37.7 billion is lost due to long checkout lines.
- $1 trillion is lost because stores don’t have stock of what customers want to buy.
- 74 percent of in-store customers leave without buyin when they don’t get timely assistance.
So we need all hands on deck with LP front and center and leading the charge with real-time, actionable data.