A contingent of twenty-five members of the Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC), representing fifteen different retailers, spent two days in early August touring one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers and Microsoft’s Retail Experience Center. The trip was headed by the LPRC’s research director, Dr. Read Hayes, and Tom Meehan, corporate manager of data, systems, and central investigations for Bloomingdale’s and chair of the LPRC’s Future of LP working group. LPRC member Checkpoint facilitated the tours.
The tour at Amazon provided the group with a start-to-finish look at the company’s fulfillment process. Starting with receipt and inventory of incoming merchandise to picking orders to boxing and shipping, the use of technology was evident. Product is scanned either by hand or automatically at multiple points to ensure inventory accuracy and correct routing of orders. Throughout the operation, various robotic technologies were in use primarily moving merchandise in and out of storage as needed for customer orders.
The Amazon facility was tightly controlled for both security and safety, with cell phones and cameras not permitted. Multiple metal detectors were used for both visitors and employees entering or exiting the building. Safety vests were worn by the tour members. Vests, eye protection, gloves, and other safety equipment were used by employees throughout the facility. Amazon’s loss prevention team coordinated the tour.
At Microsoft’s Retail Experience Center, housed in a nondescript office building without signage, the company has essentially built a retail mall inside the facility. Marty Ramos, CTO, worldwide retail, consumer products, and services for Microsoft, provided the visitors with a lively, energetic tour highlighting numerous technologies currently in use by retailers worldwide.
The demo center featured full-size retail stores and kiosks representing multiple retail environments from coffee shops to electronics stores to apparel, cosmetics, and even convenience stores. Dozens of technologies were in use for customer service, merchandising, retail operations, as well as loss prevention, including Bluetooth and audio beacons, WiFi location tracking, RFID EAS gates, virtual mirrors, mobile POS, facial recognition, and many more.
Future of LP Working Group
In addition to the tours, the group spent a half day at the headquarters of Outerwall, the company behind Red Box® movie and video rental kiosks, Coinstar® coin-counting kiosks, and ecoATM® device-recycling kiosks. The time was spent primarily by the Future of LP working group members discussing the deliverables they wanted to achieve. The discussion centered on a wide range of topics, including:
- Partnering with delivery service providers such as UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service to investigate claims
- Issues around labeling privacy and security tape or other identifiers of high-value shipments
- The value of RFID and the skill sets necessary to analyze data
- The rise in e-commerce fraud and data breaches and how to protect information and investigate events
- Omnichannel best practices from ordering, fulfillment, delivery, and returns
For more information about the LPRC, its various research projects and working groups, and membership, visit LPresearch.org. The LPRC’s annual Impact conference scheduled for October 5-7 at the University of Florida in Gainesville is open to a limited number of non-member retailers. Information is also available on the website or by contacting jessi (at) lpresearch (dot) org.
LP Foundation’s Diversity Committee Solicits Industry Input
The Loss Prevention Foundation’s Diversity Committee took a major step forward recently when professionals from across the country participated in a telephone conference to discuss needs within the loss prevention community and objectives of the committee.
“Attaining a more diverse and inclusive environment in the loss prevention industry is paramount,” said Paul Jones, LPC, senior director of global asset protection for eBay and chairman of the Diversity Committee. “Our mission is to create an environment that supports and represents the communities where we work and live.”
Loss prevention leadership recognizes that both diversity and inclusion are critical assets of a successful program. This involves the ability to recognize the differences, characteristics, and ideologies that make all of us unique as individuals; accepting and respecting those differences that are a part of all of us; and finding positive channels to understand and support one another in real ways for the benefit of all.
Increasing awareness regarding diversity and inclusion covers a broad spectrum of potential topics. And while diversity may refer to all of the ways that we may differ, inclusion involves bringing all of those differences together and putting diversity into action. This should be a message and an objective that we all share—creating a culture and setting a tone that is productive and supportive. With nearly seventy LP professionals taking part in the conversation, the interest and the value of this message was clearly underscored.
All of us want to see our efforts progress into positive results, and your support is important. The goal is to create content and dialogue to enhance discussions around diversity in LP. This requires both group support and individual participation to build learning experiences that are positive and meaningful. In the process, the hope is to create nuggets of informative content—calling on industry knowledge, experiences, and perspectives to create a truly exceptional result.
If there is an opinion or perspective that anyone in the industry would like to share, LP Magazine has agreed to provide a forum for comments and further articles. As a means to provide further support and incentive, eBay has generously offered five LPC certified scholarships that will be awarded to select individuals that will be determined through a drawing based on content submissions, with every submission awarded an entry into the drawing. The ultimate goal is the content and dialogue can then be used to help build a training course that will assist retailers in delivering on the objectives of the Diversity Committee.
“I’m excited about the energy and commitment we have from the LP community as it relates to the LPF Diversity Committee,” said Jones. “We will make a difference in shaping our industry.”
Do you have an opinion that you would like to share or a topic that you’d like to discuss? You have a real chance to make a difference, but only if you’re willing to share your voice. Submissions can appear as anonymous if you prefer, and we are willing to work with you to most effectively express your thoughts and opinions.
If you would like to learn more, please send your comments to diversity (at) LPportal (dot) com. Inquiries will be kept confidential unless otherwise indicated.