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Loss Prevention, Physical Security

5 Tips for LP/AP Professionals to Thrive in Uncertain Times

Andy Stefens
20 September, 2023
by Andy Stefens

Image of woman seeing two directions and not knowing which to pursueWhen it comes to describing the retail environment, “unpredictable” is an understatement. At the Asset Protection Executive Exchange (APEX) in Nashville, economic futurist Andrew Busch opened the conference with a seemingly endless list of events that could impact consumer demand, the economy and the retail industry. Retail loss prevention and asset protection (LP/AP) teams face a daunting list of challenges, the dynamic nature of which require innovative approaches. For LP/AP teams that may feel overwhelmed in a sea of challenges, here are some tips to help you thrive in uncertain times.

  1. Follow the latest organized retail crime (ORC) trends – According to the National Retail Federation’s 2022 National Retail Security Survey, 70% of retailers believe ORC has become a more prevalent threat over the last five years. The scope of organized retail crime extends beyond stock-sweeping to new and evolving threats. One example highlighted at APEX was the surge in fuel theft at the pump. Equipment such as pulsar manipulation devices allows criminals to steal fuel for cents on the gallon, reselling it to unethical independent gas stations, truckers and other buyers. Take steps to understand ORC trends and deploy risk-reduction tactics and technologies to stem losses before they hit your store at full throttle.
  2. Use your energy wisely – With new types of threats constantly evolving (innovative organized retail crime, global pandemic, surge in violence), it’s impossible to address every single risk. Learn to prioritize well and don’t be afraid to say “no” to projects. Don’t go down rabbit holes or chase technology for technology’s sake. The greatest threats and opportunities for reducing loss will depend on your particular store, location, environment and culture. Pick the areas where you think you can maximize impact and address those first.
  3. Embrace asset protection as an organization – In today’s day and age, the organization as a whole has to embrace the desire to offer a safe and profitable shopping location. Bombarded with brazen theft and violence and taught to “let them go,” many employees become complacent about loss. Successful retailers are prioritizing loss prevention and asset protection efforts on all levels, from the c-suite, down.
  4. Don’t solve the problem through a single idea – Things are moving entirely too quickly to attack a complex problem with a single solution. Brainstorm a number of solutions. Try them. Assess effectiveness of those solutions and move ahead. In other words, don’t fall into the trap of “analysis paralysis.”
  5. Don’t beat yourself up – Unfortunately, in a world of new threats, it’s impossible to predict and prevent every incident. Heart wrenching stories from Joe Lawless, Public Security Director of Boston’s Logan Airport on 9/11, point to challenges faced by security professionals and lessons learned. His advice was to document recommendations, communicate risks and take the best action possible.

LP/AP teams are more critical than ever to retailers’ success and viability. There’s no doubt it can be a challenging, even frustrating, environment, but with a team of outstanding individuals who are willing to keep pace with the changing world, new strategies against loss will prevail.

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