From trending news stories, 2019 conference presentations, and interviews with industry thought leaders, a picture of the future becomes—if not clear—perhaps a little sharper in focus. Here are ten trends expected to impact retail and LP in the next few years.
Buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) is poised to grow. Several LP leaders we spoke with are newly contending with BOPIS, and all signs indicate the trend will expand. In the UK, for example, some 68 percent of shoppers surveyed said they now take advantage of click-and-collect programs. And it’s clear why stores will advance the trend: 85 percent of customers that pick up online orders in a store buy additional merchandise while there, according to Barclaycard data. Since Kohl’s began accepting Amazon returns at its stores, Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass reports that 80 percent of those customers stick around to shop.
Omnichannel strives to be omnipresent. Industry leaders are noting the trend of products integrating services—toward a new goal of “omnipresence”—and increasing interactions between brand and consumer. The goal? For a brand to always be in the right context at the right time. One decades-old shelf staple provides an example: Tide is no longer just laundry detergent. You can now download an app, go to a Tide locker with dry cleaning or laundry, drop it off, and pick it up when a text tells you it’s ready.
We haven’t reached peak data. At the Madrid meeting of the ECR Community Shrink & OSA Group, visions offered on the subject of LP in 2025 make it clear that data management and analysis is both the present and the future. Even more information is heading LP teams’ way, and our effectiveness will hinge upon making sense of it all. Specifically, “to identify how it can be combined and integrated into a single platform to enable statistical tools to be used to rapidly seek out and visualize previously unseen insights on the causes of retail loss,” according to a report from the meeting. Data analytics will be the foundation of LP for years to come, and the ability to squeeze value from it will determine how much of an asset LP is able to be to their organizations. Technology is allowing for increasingly smart pattern detection in retail transactions—it’s up to LP to take advantage and to use improved data analysis to make effective decisions
The definition of “retail security” will continue to expand, destined to grow as wide as the imagination of marketers. Helzberg Diamonds, for example, recently had this gem of an idea: let’s offer wedding ceremonies at our 216 stores for customers who buy wedding rings. That concept, and many marketing ideas like it, have security ramifications. So it seems certain that LP will continue to be pressed into managing security risks arising from new operations. Retailers are being told they need to be nimble, and LP will need to minimize risks as stores pursue that goal without unnecessarily tapping the brakes on innovation. From examining a background check process of a third-party in-home delivery service to writing a plan to minimize safety risks from new “store experiences,” LP will continue to be pressed into action to maintain the safety of our employees and guests.
LP must protect brands as well as products. Similar to the point made above, industry thought leaders have been suggesting that, as retail becomes more about experiences, preventing loss becomes as much about preventing interruption to those experiences as it is about protecting the products you sell from theft. Better store security equals better customer experiences. And in 2020 and beyond, that will increasingly equate with a successful retail operation.
Social media monitoring is important in a divisive society. It’s getting more difficult for retailers to avoid being swept into polarizing political debates. After El Paso, for example, CVS Health and Walgreens asked customers to stop openly carrying firearms in stores, and Walmart announced an end to select ammunition sales. Some retailers may wish to avoid taking positions on culturally divisive issues, but others may make a point of doing so to connect with their customers. Picking sides on hot button issues—or even appearing to pick sides—makes retailers more likely targets of protest groups and can spur individuals to conduct politically motivated cyber attacks. These attacks are particularly difficult to defend against because the aim isn’t theft but to cause headaches and embarrassment. In addition to technical safeguards, corporate security teams should consider proactive monitoring for what is being said about them online.
Collaboration for LP must be the new normal. The effectiveness of LP—as both a department and an industry—will increasingly depend on engaging and cooperating with others. IT and online divisions are obvious examples but just some of many cross-functional partners with which LP will need to engage to provide value to retail enterprises, say industry leaders. In the latest NRF Protect survey, nearly nine in ten respondents said there is increasingly overlap between LP and cyber, but many retailers haven’t aligned them yet.
Delivery wars are only just beginning. Kroger piloted a thirty-minute delivery service called Kroger Rush at two stores near its Cincinnati headquarters. Macy’s plans to offer free same-day delivery. Walgreens teamed up with Google’s Wing Aviation to test drone delivery in a small town in Virginia. All are examples of the growing effort by stores to compete with online sellers. As the battle continues, experts say it’s important for loss prevention to be part of planning as retailers innovate, whether they embrace ship-from-store, pick up in store, and into futuristic scenarios like autonomous delivery.
Social engineering scams will continue to grow in sophistication. One ORC investigator acknowledged fighting external scams targeting employees in which individuals pose as a company manager or other higher-ups to facilitate fraud. These scams are fueled by greater access to information—and posing as someone else is poised to get even easier. The Washington Post recently reported that a French insurance company said one of its clients was victimized by thieves who used artificial-intelligence-driven voice-mimicking software to imitate a company executive’s speech and scam a managing director into transferring $240,000 into their bank account. The employee said he thought the request was odd but that the voice was so accurate he felt he had to comply. “This is a technology that would have sounded exotic in the extreme ten years ago, now being well within the range of any lay criminal who’s got creativity to spare,” Andrew Grotto of Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center, told the Post.
Retail organizations need to improve natural disaster preparedness to limit business disruption. In 2018, the US experienced 14 billion-dollar-plus natural disasters, which caused approximately $90.9 billion in losses, according to the latest US Household Disaster Giving report. Once-a-century type storms now seem to happen all the time, and climate experts generally agree that the trend will persist. Disruption from civil unrest and political instability also seems poised to increase, warn experts in risk management. In today’s evolving retail environment, effectively mitigating the business impact from these events can make the difference between winning and losing in the global marketplace. LP’s expertise is vital to enabling businesses to manage both predictable and catastrophic challenges and forge greater resiliency.