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A tougher economy has led criminals to become more sophisticated

Anticipating the emerging patterns in retail crime is one of the critical challenges for loss prevention professionals.


A tougher economy has led criminals to become more sophisticated

Anticipating the emerging patterns in retail crime is one of the critical challenges for loss prevention professionals.

Retail suffers at the hands of shoplifters, travelling gangs, internal thieves and online fraudsters up to £4 billion every year. Crime and loss prevention forms a considerable proportion of the overall cost of retail crime in the UK, with an average expenditure of £750,000 per retailer.* 

E-commerce is increasingly proving a route in for criminals to commit fraud in-store, which is being made possible by most retailers' lack of integration of fraud solutions across their multiple channels.

Steve Frame, head of safety and loss at River Island, recently told The Retail Bulletin: “It’s easy to commit fraud online and it’s now coming offline as e-commerce is the way in, through click & collect. It’s now very muddy.”  

At River Island Frame has sought to mitigate the problem through the creation of a single team that encompasses both payments and fraud, which then handles the integration of solutions across the company’s different channels. 

“In most companies each channel has its own focus and strategy, with loss prevention not merged in any way. The challenge is to get them to talk together. But most importantly we’ve got payments and fraud together. They both sit with me and I can then cross the channels together,” explains Frame.

Taking another angle, Lisa Cluett, fraud manager at BrightHouse, said that the company had saved more than £1 million over the last 18 months since it introduced a centralised and more automated system for investigating customer applications for purchasing its goods which require credit.

Much of the personal document checking was previously done in a “common-sense” manner by the store teams, but with a more rigorous approach now taken through the adoption of the new systems Cluett says the results have been dramatic.

Adopting an intelligence-led approach to loss prevention, by utilising data from across its business, has enabled B&Q to deliver six years of continuous improvements to this critical part of its operations.

Ray Palmer, head of asset protection at B&Q, says this approach is different to the traditional way of often relaying on gut reaction.

“We know the seven particular brands targeted by organised criminals. These are high risk, high loss lines so we have a strategy to better protect these lines,” he says, adding that this might involve having conversations with the suppliers to change how the goods are packaged or require some action by B&Q in how they are presented in its stores.

Steve, Lisa and Ray are among a knowledgeable speaker line-up at the Retail Bulletin’s 4th Loss Prevention Summit, September 10th, in London. Other speakers include Phones 4u, Scotmid Co-op, Spar, eBay, Metropolitan Police, National Fraud Authority, University of Leicester, Retailers Against Crime, CIFAS, MeadWestvaco. Click here to join us for this interactive networking day

* BRC Retail Crime Survey 2012

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