Summer 2013
Stop Thief! Five Tips to Minimize Retail Theft

In the common area, security can be a challenge. But you don’t need high-cost devices to keep your merchandise safe. Here are five tips you can implement now to keep loss at a minimum. Averi Walker

Kiosk security can be a tricky and expensive endeavor. After the initial investment into after-hours security, whether from kiosk covers or roll-down gates, it can be difficult to decide how to best maximize your kiosk’s security. Security options are even more limited when the budget eliminates obvious methods like top-notch security systems and cameras.

Below are some easy and budget-friendly ways to improve kiosk security during and after business hours. These low-tech, and low cost options will boost your kiosk security without hurting the bottom line.

1. Learn Your Layout

Kiosk and product layout optimization is a crucial and simple way to reduce theft. Visibility can make all the difference when monitoring product in a kiosk setting. To improve visibility, follow a few simple rules.

First, set up the shelving of your kiosk to eliminate blind spots. The goal is to minimize the amount of product that is out of the tenant’s line of sight. While it may be good marketing to have product on every side of the kiosk, consider if any of the shelves on your kiosk create blind spots that make it easy for theft to occur unnoticed.

Sherry Drew, Specialty Leasing Manager at The Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs, shares her experience with kiosk layout, saying, “High and low shelves tend to be a waste of product space when trying to catch a customer’s attention, and therefore just increase the risk of product theft.”

To optimize product layout, try not to place product above or below eye level. This will ensure that the kiosk tenant has a clear view of all sides of the kiosk, and easily allows them to monitor the product from a variety of angles. Eye contact can be a powerful tool in deterring theft, so increase the range of visibility for maximum eye contact.

If the tenant uses a stool or chair during business hours, place the most expensive or valuable product closest to the tenant. Putting the most valuable product directly in site of the tenant will both deter thieves, and make it easier for tenants to discuss the product with potential customers.

When creating your layout, always factor the risk versus the reward of the design. The Educational Consultants and Research Associates Group, based in Rosemont, IL, describes the balance, saying, “Putting high-value products behind a counter can frustrate shoppers and lead to lost sales. Putting them in a dark or less visible location creates temptation. Place hot products in highly visible locations where the risk of detection is high—in the line of sight of associates, in high-traffic locations such as checkout, or simply increase the lighting levels.”

2. Cure the Clutter

Many kiosks have a lot of product to offer their consumers, but putting too much product on the counters creates a high-risk environment for theft. A cluttered kiosk makes it altogether too easy for theft to occur without anyone noticing product is missing.

Drew points out, “A tenant can sell just as many T-shirts with 10 shirts on display, as with 50. A controlled level of product on the shelves is more eye-catching for the customer and easier for the tenant to keep track of.” To determine the appropriate amount of inventory, Drew strongly suggests making full use of the mall’s visual merchandiser if available.

Controlling inventory allows kiosk tenants to closely supervise product, and quickly know if an item was stolen, or is at risk. Knowing theft has occurred is the first step in taking action against the criminal. Again, consider the risk and reward when arranging product. “Too much product in stock or on display tempts thieves. Too little frustrates shoppers. To reduce both risks, keep inventories in line with the rate of sale and replenish more often,” recommends The ECRA Group.

3. Mock It Up

A security camera doesn’t have to be functional to act as a deterrent. Simply the sight of a camera mounted on the kiosk can have the same preventive effect as a fully functioning security camera system—and will cost a lot less money. If mounted in the right places, these mock cameras can deter theft during and after hours.

For a comfortable $9.38 on Amazon, you can get a “dummy security camera” that looks reasonably realistic, and with a couple batteries, will blink a red light to simulate activity. The online reviews report that the system looks believable and has generated positive results at deterring theft.

If you decide to install mock security cameras, remember the following recommendations while getting started.
Purchasing: Security Camera King.com recommends getting matching colors and models when buying mock security cameras, and if possible, matching them as closely as possible to the other cameras around the mall. Doing so will enhance the authenticity of the cameras, and maximize their ability to deter petty thieves.

Installation: Install them in highly visible areas, and high theft risk areas. If there is an area of the kiosk that is obviously less visible to the kiosk tenant, the mock camera gives the impression of monitoring a potential thief, even when the tenant cannot.

Follow through: Most important, remember that these cameras serve no other purpose than to deter theft. The mock cameras are not a fail-safe security system, and will not provide security footage to help catch a person in the event of theft. Keeping this in mind, don’t let your guard down. Tenant vigilance is still a critical theft deterrent, and tenants should be made aware if a camera is not active.

4. A Helping Hand

Even though the kiosk 10 feet from yours may be the competition, every retailer is in the fight against retail theft together. Be a good neighbor and help your fellow retailers keep their product safe.

Let the kiosk tenants near you know that you are monitoring for theft, and that you will keep an eye on their kiosk as well. You may be able to offer a vantage point on an area of their kiosk that was previously vulnerable to theft.

A goodwill offer like this tends to inspire reciprocal offers, and pretty soon, your kiosk and product is being monitored by several sets of concerned eyes. If a situation does occur where you can help deter theft at a nearby kiosk, make sure another tenant is watching your own kiosk.

5. Friend the Beat Team

The security guards at your mall are going to be the most forceful method of preventing retail theft. While security covers and roll-down gates act as deterrents, security guards are the final stand between your product and a determined thief.

Chapel Hills Mall Specialty Leasing Representative, Kristin Drost, says that the mall kiosks have been theft-free in the three years she has been with the Colorado Springs mall, largely due to the work of the security team.

Make it known to your security team that you appreciate the work they are doing. Making your appreciation known does not have to involve grand gifts. It only takes a simple introduction and thank you to give your kiosk personal significance.

A personally invested guard is going to be more alert and more vigilant as they protect your merchandise after hours.

Averi Walker

Averi Walker is a first-time contributor to Specialty Retail Report, and the Marketing and PR Coordinator at Equip Inc. Equip specializes in custom retail security covers for after-hours kiosk and RMU protection. Working with Equip Inc. in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Averi is aware of the security and budget challenges faced by malls and specialty leasing managers across the country. Averi can be reached at Equip Inc. via email at averi@equipinc.com, or by phone at 719.599.0300.
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