The National Retail Federation (NRF) is hosting loss prevention leaders from around the country at NRF PROTECT 2022 in Cleveland this week, June 21-23, and after welcoming everyone at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Tuesday night, the show floor officially opened yesterday, June 22.
This year, attendees are able to explore 200 exhibitor booths representing more than 50 service categories. Also on the show floor was the NRF Fusion Center, where retailers and federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, mall security, and organized retail crime associations could connect and discuss industry issues. The Center also featured explosive and narcotics detection K-9 demonstrations with their handlers from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department.
In addition to all of the networking opportunities on the show floor, attendees were also invited to listen in as industry leaders shared their LP insights during educational sessions.
Evy Poumpouras, former special agent and polygraph examiner with the United States Secret Service, started the day with the opening keynote, Mastering Resiliency and Conflict. She discussed how human behavior has changed since the start of the pandemic, and gave advice on how to manage conflict, identify a person’s behavior, and control your personal brand.
“We become so hyper-focused and myopic that we just focus on the person in front of us, and not whether we’re escalating their behavior,” she explained.
Attendees had multiple sessions exploring a variety of topics to choose from after that. One highlight was a panel featuring Bloomingdale’s Operating Vice President of Asset Protection and Risk Management Peter Chie, Ahold Delhaize USA Retail Business Services Director of Asset Protection James Cosseboom, Family Dollar Vice President of Asset Protection Cynthia Grizzle, Inspire Brands Senior Director of Loss Prevention and Corporate Security David Johnston, NRF Vice President of Government Relations and Workforce Development Edwin Egee, and NRF Vice President of Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jon Gold.
Together, they discussed the challenges their teams went through during the pandemic, and what their outlook is for the future of the industry.
“It was a time period no one will forget,” said Peter Chie. “For Bloomingdale’s, being a luxury brand, we were deemed non-essential right from the get-go, which was a tough time. At the same time, we were also dealing with a corporate office move from midtown Manhattan to Queens with about a thousand employees. But we were able to collaborate very closely together to get our stores open again and get the colleagues back in the stores.”
“Early in the pandemic I worked for Macy’s, and later I moved to Family Dollar, so I had the experience working for both a non-essential retailer and an essential retailer in the last couple years,” said Cynthia Grizzle. “The experiences between the two were vastly different. Working for Macy’s, we shut down the stores believing it would be for two weeks, and the company had to make the difficult decision to furlough the majority of the workforce, which left a very small group behind, charged with dealing with things outside of their normal duties. The biggest contribution the AP team made was helping think through the implications of these many challenges and applying them to the business.”
“Working in the grocery industry, you’re used to dealing with spikes in volume,” said James Cosseboom. “But like a lot of retailers, we ran out of toilet paper and paper towels, which I’m still scratching my head about. The volumes we experienced were insane.”
“We as an organization had to look at and pivot to become more resourceful for our franchisees while staying hands-off,” said David Johnston. “For us, there was a heavy reliance on associations like the NRF for information.”
In the afternoon, after the show floor closed, California Retailers Association President and CEO Rachel Michelin led a panel on how the association is battling ORC featuring Macy’s Senior Director of Investigations Chris DeSantis and Albertsons Division Asset Protetection Manager Ron Foss.
They discussed expanded funding in the California state budget that includes $346 million for fighting ORC.
“The media is reporting on how emotional these issues are, but if we think back, ORC isn’t a new thing, it’s been around since the 80’s,” DeSantis said. “What the public is seeing is the aggressive, in-your-face acts of violence. But the ORC groups are still working in the shadows, creating significant financial impact.”
Outside of organized retail crime, they also touched on how the average shoplifter has become emboldened.
“The shoplifter has graduated in the last few years based on the lack of consequences,” DeSantis said. “They know they can get away with it. The reselling aspect is what we use to define whether it’s ORC or not, but what’s changed is that the reselling aspect has become so broad.”
Other sessions from the day explored issues such as refund fraud, cybersecurity, and mass shootings. For the final keynote session, Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates President and Partner David Thompson and the International Association of Interviewers Executive Director Tony Paixao talked about strategizing the investigative interview.
Attendees were then invited to the Grand Ballroom Lobby for a networking mixer before a busy night of mingling with others.
Check back for more exclusive coverage of NRF PROTECT tomorrow.