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AP Fundamentals: Developing Business Acumen

Working in a business as dynamic as retail, it’s essential to remain flexible in our methods and progressive in our approach to a global retail market. As the business moves forward change comes quickly, and our skills and abilities must evolve to meet the needs and expectations of a higher professional standard.

While loss prevention provides an important service, it is by no means a profession that stands on its own. We are a retail support function, and none of us would have a job without the industry that we support. We are business partners. We are retailers that happen to specialize in loss prevention. While it’s certainly important that we recognize what our role means to the retail industry, it’s absolutely critical that we understand what the retail business means to us. Without maturing into the role of a business professional, the job will never evolve into a career.

Understanding this, it’s essential that we develop a better grasp on the basics of retail if we hope to establish a foundation that allows us to best serve the business. Business acumen is a concept that pertains to our knowledge and capacity for making sound, profitable business decisions. Through the development of our business acumen, we forge our role in retail, which also helps us to make better strategic decisions in every other aspect of the job. It’s through the understanding of the fundamental concepts and operations of retail that we develop strong and productive business partnerships. That being said, understanding alone simply isn’t enough. There also must be an acceptance of these concepts, and that acceptance must be embedded in everything that we do and every decision that we make as part of the business.

First and foremost, retail is a business, and businesses are in business to make money and turn a profit. Yet while that may be the ultimate goal of the retail operation, the process is much more complicated than simply buying a building, filling it with merchandise, putting in a register, and hoping for sales. Upon looking at the retail industry from a global perspective, we must consider the different elements that make a retail business successful and a company most profitable.

- Digital Partner -
  • We must establish an identity that will attract our core customers. Establishing our identity sets the tone for everything that follows.
  • We want to provide a quality product at an attractive price.
  • We need to display our product in a way that makes it desirable to purchase. This concept must reach beyond our visual display and extend to the general appearance and efficiency of the store. We should look for ways to draw the customer into the store. We should present merchandise in ways that makes the customer desire the merchandise, but also may give them additional ideas and accessories.
  • We should take all necessary steps to make our customers feel that they are important, that we will take care of them, that we value their opinions and their business, and that we want them to return and offer us their future business. Our entire approach to the business should have our customers in mind.
  • We should provide an environment where our customer feels comfortable, confident, safe, and secure. Our business should provide an atmosphere where our customer wants to shop and should reflect a culture that best fits the core customer. Naturally they should feel safe, but it’s much more than that. They should feel that they belong. Even when it’s clear that a store must protect its product, the customer should feel the delicate balance between protection and trust.

The most successful retail operations apply these simple but critical concepts as essential aspects of their core business. Retail is a dynamic business, but it can also be a delicate business. Many retail operations that falter or fail do so because they have in some way lost sight of the core business model. Clear vision must permeate every aspect and every department within the organization if we are to succeed as a business. That reality underscores the importance of a strong relationship between the stores and the loss prevention department. Our role can play a critical part in the perception of these concepts among our valued customers. A long and successful career in loss prevention requires that we learn, understand, and apply these core concepts as a key aspect of our approach to the business as well.

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