In an industry as dynamic as retail, asset protection leaders have long been faced with the daunting task of keeping pace with the changing landscape of the industry. This has never been more true than it is today.
Safeguarding company assets is no longer synonymous with simply catching shoplifters. Issues in asset protection, such as the approach to retail loss, now require a much more holistic approach. In a global marketplace, asset protection leaders must be global thinkers. Our needs, challenges, and responsibilities are multidimensional. This is an age where omni-channel retailing is reshaping the way that we do business. Asset protection leaders must rethink their approach to enhancing the profitability of the retail enterprise if they want to survive.
However, that doesn’t mean that we have to face the world on our own. We often talk about standing on the shoulders of those who came before us. But today it’s just as important that we stand beside those who share our interests and our passions, finding common ground to overcome our greatest business challenges. RILA’s Asset Protection Leaders Council does just that.
“When we bring together the top thought leaders in asset protection from the most progressive retailers in the world and establish a mindset of achieving shared goals, good things are going to happen,” said Lisa LaBruno, former senior vice president of retail operations for the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). “That’s why we launched the Asset Protection Leaders Council (APLC) six years ago. Our asset protection leaders are making a difference. By working together, we’re solving the most pressing challenges facing the industry.” [Editor’s Note: LaBruno is now the executive vice president of retail operations for RILA.]
Competition drives the retail engine. But when we look under the hood, we often find that it’s the sum of many different parts that keeps things running smoothly. Occasionally, we learn that some of those parts may come from sources that we didn’t expect. There are certain areas where we shouldn’t compete with each other, and by working together we can all benefit through these innovative solutions.
“This is a transformative time in retail,” said LaBruno. “Retailers are competing for every sale, and our asset protection leaders must be true business partners. The trick is to identify areas within asset protection that are noncompetitive and ripe for collaboration. The APLC seizes those opportunities to solve common problems together for the benefit of the entire industry.”
Bringing Leaders to the Table to Solve Issues in Asset Protection
“The Asset Protection Leaders Council is designed to pull together retail leaders to address critical issues facing the asset protection industry in real time,” said Paul Jaeckle, LPC, vice president of asset protection at Meijer Stores and chair of the APLC. “Our approach and what we accomplish is really representative of what’s happening in the asset protection space collectively. It was created as a forum for the leaders to have collaborative discussions about the different things that are happening in the industry but without the competitive element that exists in other areas of retail.”
By focusing on research, industry-wide initiatives, benchmarking, networking, and other projects and programs that support asset protection, the APLC is finding creative ways to approach current issues and emerging trends.
Just as importantly, the APLC is providing a platform to review and discuss those issues most important to the industry and a voice to get things done. There have been discussions regarding what’s going on in the digital space. Crisis management and active shooter situations have been deliberated. Throughout last fall’s hurricane season, the APLC discussed the top challenges facing retail organizations, shared effective solutions, and collaborated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to get communities back on their feet. By identifying these industry-wide initiatives, they’re driving innovative solutions that support the asset protection agenda.
“We’ve identified common ground that’s good for everyone to talk about,” said LaBruno. “But it’s the participants’ commitment to collaboration that makes all the difference. We’re only as good as the asset protection leaders who participate.”
The Power of Information
Much of the work that comes out of the APLC is used for educational purposes. By bringing together retailers from specialty, big-box, grocery, and other retail platforms to share ideas, considerable information is gathered that can be used to publish research documents, white papers, benchmarking surveys, and other resources.
There may be forums that will be pulled together or surveys generated to get a better understanding of what’s really happening in the industry and how people are reacting to specific trends. This also allows the individual leader to gain a better perspective of how their particular position compares to where the industry is headed, how to identify some of the trends that impact their business, and how to respond as a department to best support the needs of the business.
“As an industry leader involved in the process, completing the surveys and taking part in these initiatives gives you access to that information based on your participation,” said Jaeckle. “For example, if a white paper is generated based upon one of the APLC initiatives, the research that’s compiled will be provided back to you once a report is generated. That offers those participating a tremendous benefit. There have been several research documents that I’ve taken full advantage of to help modify or improve the way that we’re approaching things in my business.
“But it also provides a valuable resource to educate my executive leadership on what’s happening in our business. It offers a degree of independence under the sponsorship of RILA to further advise and educate executive leadership, providing additional information and focus on these important business topics under the guidance of a reliable source and a credible platform.”
Read the full article, “RILA’s Asset Protection Leaders Council, Part I,” to learn more about some of RILA’s latest projects and initiatives. The original article was published in 2018; this excerpt was updated March 25, 2019.