Loss Prevention at Automated Retail Giant Outerwall

The Art of the Kiosk Feature Image 1

You’ve likely rented a DVD from a Redbox or cashed in your penny jar at the Coinstar kiosk at your neighborhood grocery store. But have you thought about the loss prevention challenges associated with what some might view as high-tech “vending machines” that dispense valuable merchandise or cash in an unmanned environment? The retail security team at Seattle-based Outerwall brings traditional LP experience to this new “automated retail” business that could not exist without ensuring that both customers and the retail partners who host their kiosks are fully confident in the kiosk performance.

“A lot of people might walk by and incorrectly think of our kiosks as vending machines as opposed to a sophisticated, technology-based business,” said Paul LaBlanc, senior manager of LP for ecoATM, Outerwall’s kiosk that provides cash for smartphones, tablets, and mp3 players.

The company’s newest kiosk business is called Coinstar Exchange, which lets customers trade in gift cards for cash, a business that touches loss prevention professionals across a retail industry that is struggling with gift card fraud. “Though gift cards remain a concern within our industry, we’re confident that once [our LP peers] see how it works – and who’s behind it – they’ll be glad we’re around,” assured LaBlanc.

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LaBlanc is part of what Dave Hiatt, senior vice president of risk, audit, and compliance, calls a “small but mighty” team of loss prevention professionals assembled from a variety of retail security backgrounds. “When you look at all the things we do, nowhere in any of our careers have we been tasked to design physical security for both buildings and kiosks, design badging programs, unique camera applications, provide executive protection, build policies/procedures to improve controls, forensics analysis, conduct LP and HR investigations, collaborate programmatically with other retailer loss prevention folks, and implement safety programs – all concurrently,” said Hiatt.

Check out “The Art of the Kiosk” in the November-December 2015 issue.