Omni-channel retailing is the newest trend in retail selling which allows customers to buy and return merchandise in a huge variety of ways. A customer can place an online order at an in-store kiosk to be shipped to her house. He can place an order from his mobile device to be picked up at a local store. If she doesn’t like the color of the new curtains she ordered through the online customer rewards program, she can return them to the nearest brick-and-mortar store to save on shipping.
Because of fewer in-store transactions and changing retail technology trends such as the increased use of chip cards, loss prevention professionals expect to have to deal more with online credit card fraud of various kinds. Additionally, the move toward the infinite store is also creating new areas that need to be secured, such as networks and customer data.
LP professionals are increasingly being asked to bring their specific skills into areas where they never participated before, causing a shift in responsibilities. “Retailers are going to continue to find creative ways to conduct business and sell to customers. Loss prevention will need to stay very close to these creative methods and retailing channels to ensure LP practices are appropriately woven into the strategies that our merchants and operators develop,” claims one retail leader.
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The dual role of increased data and analytics will create a shift in thinking that will change many roles in retail, including LP. While IT has been the primary business owner in most retail companies, many LP professionals believe that loss prevention in an omni-channel retailing world must take on an expanded, more proactive leadership role to ensure data is secured and properly managed.
“Breach avoidance and protection of consumer and company proprietary information will continue to be a focal point for retailers for many years to come,” says one retailer. Retail data breaches are costing companies in many ways beyond the immediate financial losses, to include litigation, brand protection issues, and additional sales impact.
According to another industry leader, “Having the LP organization partnered with the IT security organization will be the most effective way to improve security of both the actual data and the physical devices that collect and manage the data.” This includes coordinating investigative approaches and law enforcement relationships in the event of a breach.”