Ready for the Revolution? New Skills, Focus Are Key to Thriving Under New Challenges

Sponsored by the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

Asset protection practitioners need to accept and respond to the sea change taking place in the retail industry to avoid being engulfed by it, suggest AP leaders. Warning signs abound. They’re reflected in the closing of long-standing retail chains, in online shopping’s emerging dominance, and in the redefining of the retail experience as stores adapt to desires of today’s consumer.

AP can’t escape the re-shaping of retail—it needs to respond. Priorities and responsibilities must shift. Its toughest challenges must be recast as opportunities. In short, we need an AP Revolution, according to Todd Lyle, Walgreen’s senior director, asset protection solutions, field operations and execution and chair of RILA’s Asset Protection Steering Committee.

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“These disruptions have forced us to look internally and discover creative ways to innovate,” said Lyle. “As retail asset protection executives at industry-leading companies, we are the vanguard of the way the world views and handles loss. It’s time to redefine retail asset protection.”

According to Lyle, the AP Revolution requires action in three focus areas: growth, relevance, and influence, which is the tagline for RILA’s upcoming Retail Asset Protection Conference in Orlando, April 29 to May 2. Specifically, an AP Revolution calls on asset protection to expand its reach across the enterprise (growth); for AP to prove itself to be critical business partners (relevance); and for AP leaders to influence their organizations and industry to empower asset protection as an enabler of performance and improvement (influence).

What Will It Take?

It’s going to take progress in a variety of areas to meet the heady challenge now confronting AP leaders.
Embracing the right technology solution—from the dizzying options now available-is clearly one of those areas, as is gaining a broad understanding of technology beyond how it serves the AP function.


“In today’s budget- and sales-conscious environment, the criteria for technology is different than what it was just five years ago,” noted Lisa LaBruno, RILA’s senior vice president of retail operations. “Executives are looking for game-changing technology that can be leveraged across the enterprise and that enables a seamless customer experience.”

RILA’s (R)Tech Asset Protection Innovation Awards showcases today’s cutting-edge technology for mitigating total retail loss, and its “Emerging Technology” program l track extends learning opportunities, focusing on innovative solutions that are solving retailers’ most pressing and stubborn AP problems.

The scope of the challenge currently facing AP is further reflected in the diversity of the RILA conference agenda. To push AP forward, for example, its leaders will need to get better at pitching proposals to business leaders and more skilled at creating and sustaining strategic internal partnerships. RILA’s upcoming conference takes direct aim at both. Under the new “Cross Functional Collaboration” track, AP leaders will learn from case studies that illustrate the value of partnerships with key internal stakeholders. A conference workshop, “Writing Proposals That Get Read,” will teach AP leaders tangible tips for identifying proposal-worthy ideas and leveraging their own expertise to craft winning proposals.

Conference workshops, which will include a hands-on advanced training program on reading behavioral indicators, are complimentary and earn attendees continuing education units (CEUs) toward LPC and CFI certifications. In all, conference attendees can earn up to 16 CEUs-helping AP leaders achieve the “influence” aspect of the AP Revolution triumvirate.

Lyle notes that a host of fresh AP challenges are emerging from today’s dynamic retail environment. Presented by Rankin Gasaway, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary at 7-Eleven who oversees the corporation’s AP team, the title of the conference’s opening keynote sums up one of those: “Accepting Chaos and Returning Order.” The new AP environment is further reflected in five new conference tracks at the 2018 Retail Asset Protection Conference. In addition to those noted above, the agenda will include new tracks on emerging fraud schemes and internal theft and fraud, as well as a new Violence track.

In one recent industry survey, a whopping 97 percent of retailers said they’ve seen an increase in violence associated with organized retail crime. Sessions under the Violence track will explore what is driving the alarming increase in violence and detail the actionable steps that AP teams are taking to mitigate risk and protect retail brand equity from damage. The issue of ORC will also be examined in a conference panel (which will include a federal judge): “Shoplifters, ORC, Shrinking Justice & Opioids: What’s a Retailer to Do?”

As the retail industry breaks sharply with the past, it seems unlikely that an AP leader can maintain business as usual and succeed. Indeed, many AP leaders now warn that a traditional AP approach is simply not sustainable. But within the challenges facing AP lies opportunity, according to Lyle. Far from being displaced, an AP Revolution could propel the profession to new heights.

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