The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to look at what we do and how we approach our personal and professional lives from a much different perspective. Many of the things we once took for granted must be seen through a different lens as we adjust to a new normal. During a time when wearing masks and social distancing have become crucial to protecting ourselves and others, we’re forced to interact much differently as well. Sacrificing for the sake of safety, individuals and communities have suffered, businesses have been impacted, and times have changed.
Yet through it all, we remain resilient. While 2020 may be a year like no other in recent history, we still learn to adapt and move forward. This may all be happening in what amounts to a moment in time, but the way we respond, the lessons learned, and our approach to most everything we do during these times will last for generations. It’s a badge all of us have been forced to wear, yet what’s most important is how we choose to wear it.
One of the casualties from a loss prevention perspective has been the annual conference events. Over the past 7 months these events were forced to cancel or postpone in the face of our current dilemma. With face-to-face interactions put on hold, we’ve been forced to adjust. Virtual meetings have become much more commonplace, providing a much needed and valuable venue for us to learn, grow, and interact.
NRF PROTECT ALL ACCESS was a 4-day online event for the retail loss prevention/asset protection community. Held September 22nd – 25th, the event featured live daily sessions with industry leaders and subject matter experts, a virtual Exposition Hall, and some fun networking events for the participants. Each day of the event featured a different theme and exceptional speakers to share their insights and educate the audience.
While different than the NRF PROTECT conferences of the past, the virtual event had a premier advantage—the live event was accessible to all loss prevention professionals that had interest in sharing the conference experience. All attendees were able to participate from the convenience of their home or office with the ability to watch, listen, and learn. They could ask questions of the speakers, and interact with other participants through the online chat function.
General Sessions featured interactive presentations with industry leaders and subject matter experts discussing important and timely subjects prominent in today’s retail environment:
Ripped from the Headlines. Featuring a roundtable discussion reviewing pandemic preparation and response, managing protests, and other critical incidents in and around retail stores.
Delivering on Demand: Safety First. As retailers adjust to consumer needs, home delivery can present new risks to profitability, safety, and brand protection. This session discussed implementing processes to protect both employees and customers.
De-escalation: New Challenges. This session had retail experts discussing how to protect employees and customers from volatile situations in today’s retail climate.
Managing Store Operations in the Face of Crisis and Critical Incidents. This presentation reviewed the importance of collaboration between LP/AP professionals and our operational allies, how to work together during the age of COVID-19, and the importance of these partnerships should critical incidents arise.
The Unfriendliest Friendly Fraud of All: Professional Refunding. “Friendly fraud” involves customers making purchases through legitimate means, but then initiating a chargeback after the product is received to get their money back. In this presentation expert panelists discussed the newest form of “friendly fraud”, how to recognize it, and how to prevent it.
The Quest for Racial Justice. A critical conversation between two senior loss prevention leaders as they reflect on ways retailers, and individuals, can invest in policies, practices, and beliefs to deter systemic racism.
Cybersecurity Challenges Amid Risks and Digital Transformation. In this session industry experts discussed dealing with novel threats, ecommerce, new payment methods, budget pressures and a remote workforce while managing through the pandemic.
Building Stronger Ties: Information Security and Digital Teams. Senior-level retail information security leaders discuss critical cyber-related business issues to include the nature of the challenge, what they learned, and what the business impact has been.
Post-COVID Payment Security. A panel discussion on how market trends related to COVID have shifted the dynamics of the security of retail payments, both online and in-store.
A New Decade of Account Takeovers. Instances of criminals using stolen login credentials to take over online accounts continues to grow. This session has a panel of experts explaining what ATO attacks look like, what type of companies are likely to become targets, how the business model affects the type of attack, and what the thieves are after.
Interviewing in the New World with Wicklander-Zulawski. The team at WZ discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has created obstacles in the way of conducting face-to-face investigative interviews, including some suggestions on how to prioritize health and safety while still conducting a thorough and fair interview.
Crisis Leadership – The Chrysalis of Opportunity. The final session of the conference reviewed how to prepare for the current challenges facing retail managers while keeping a renewed focus on people and their capabilities.
The Virtual Exposition Center featured exhibits from 75 different solution providers where attendees could view demonstrations and discuss new and innovative solutions. to make sure retailers have the right tools to prepare for any security threat.
Another exciting feature of this year’s exposition hall was the virtual Fusion Center. A highlight for many loss prevention professionals as part of the annual conference, the NRF Fusion Center provides a unique opportunity for retailers and law enforcement to meet, build, and strengthen partnerships. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, mall security and organized retail crime associations (ORCAs) come together to explore strategies to counter retail crime. The virtual forum provided opportunities for networking, group chats, one-on-one conversations and to review materials such as whitepapers and videos in support of our shared mission.
Looking Forward to 2021
The virtual event explored new territories for all those involved, but it also provided many new opportunities for networking and learning. And while the success of the event provided a boost to all those involved, we look forward to the 2021 NRF PROTECT, which will be held June 14-16, 2021 at the Gaylord Hotel in Grapevine, Texas.
Congratulations on a successful conference, and gratitude to all those that helped make the conference a tremendous opportunity for LP/AP professionals everywhere!