How Retail Disruption Impacts Loss Prevention Efforts

self-checkout grocery

It’s no secret that the pandemic accelerated the adoption of shopping through digital channels. During the last fiscal year, for example, digital sales at Target grew from accounting for 8.8 percent of all its sales to 18 percent. Meanwhile, at Best Buy, digital sales this year were double what they were the year prior. On the surface, this is great news for retailers. But it also belies a bigger challenge: In a world where digital and physical retail are inextricably linked, how can retailers not only protect their inventories and people, but also offer exceptional customer experiences?

To answer these questions and more, Sensormatic Solutions recently hosted a webinar featuring Myron Burke, a former Walmart innovation leader, along with Sensormatic technology leaders Randy Dunn and Ned McCauley—and a surprise guest (no spoilers). The webinar, attended by hundreds of decision makers from leading retailers, featured insights on creating seamless omnichannel experiences while also mitigating shrink and other risks.

Here’s a quick recap of the top line takeaways—and a few things we learned from the audience along the way.

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What Keeps Retailers Up at Night?

When asked which factors create the most risk at their organizations, attendees were given the following options:

  • Curbside pick-up
  • Online orders being returned to stores
  • Mask rebellion
  • Self-checkout

It might not surprise you that almost half of our attendees said self-checkout created the most risk. One study by the University of Leicester found that self-checkout-enabled stores experienced up to 147 percent more shrink than those without—and that was before the pandemic.

But today’s shoppers demand the ease, speed, and convenience self-checkout offers. So, what are retailers to do?

“Trying to remove the friction from the transaction—that’s what every good retailer is trying to do,” said Randy Dunn, technology leader at Sensormatic Solutions. “But it doesn’t surprise me that’s creating some challenges for the asset protection world.”

Further making checkout a challenge for loss prevention is the fact that checkout itself is rapidly moving from inside the store to shoppers’ personal devices.

“As that happens, we have to think about what else has to change with the assets that are being checked out and delivered,” former Walmart innovation leader, Myron Burke, noted. That’s just one of the reasons he pointed out that retail is rapidly becoming a technology business—but what’s driving that transition?

The 3 Cs of Digital Transformation in Retail

According to Burke, the acceleration of retail’s digital transformation can be summed up by three factors:

  • Compute
  • Connectivity
  • Convenience of competition

What do these three Cs look like in practice? Burke summarized broadly:

“We don’t have physical comp shoppers going out and visiting stores anymore, we just have bots that comb [them] online, and are adjusting prices in the background through AI,” he said. “We have machine learning attributes looking at customer engagements and what customers search and then are not only pushing products, but also looking at the pricing and whether they’re the right price for that customer to convert and drive traffic. We’re starting to see the exploration of wireless, not only data transformations, but also wireless power transformations as giving IoT sensors connectivity without the need for wires.”

Each of these systems, events, and data points, he noted, are essentially capturing everything that’s happening in a given retail environment, down to when someone picked a product up and put it down—or left the store without paying for it.

“But more importantly,” Burke stressed, “we’re seeing gaps in our retail operations that are continuing to drive things like the black hole of shrink when we add new exits or when people bring products to different areas in the business.”

Listen to Learn More

So how do the three Cs impact loss prevention efforts? Where are leading retailers investing today to get ahead of tomorrow’s loss prevention headaches? And how is the head of asset protection at one of the world’s largest and most iconic department stores leveraging technologies like RFID to level up their loss prevention, inventory management, and even omnichannel efforts?

To find out all that—and a whole lot more—check out Sensormatic’s webinar today. It’s an hour full of insights and must-know facts and figures.

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