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Holiday Security

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | November 14, 2017
The prime holiday push is upon us, and all the extra traffic is great for business.  Busy stores produce great sales opportunities, but they are also prime targets for those with less than great intentions.  Busy staff members can’t look after the floor, rush transactions, and make quick decisions (on-line and in person).  Some extra training can prevent your business from absorbing losses that negatively impact your business.  Before things get any busier, schedule a staff meeting (or at the bare minimum create a memo) that cover some or all of these points:
1.  Keep sight lines on the floor.  Big trees, extra decorations, and more merchandise can hide people as they lift items from your shelves.  Walk your store to look for “blind spots” and find ways to counteract hidden areas.  Make sure your staff is seen throughout your establishment.
2.  Strategically place small, high value items in employee proximate locations.  “Impulse items” tend to sell better at the register anyway, but if you are concerned about aparticular item “walking away”, move it!  Tracking your inventory for last minute reorders and to calculate shrinkage can help you establish better inventory management, but don’t be afraid to shift your merchandise on the floor.
3.  Establish training to identify counterfeit currency.  Does your staff know how to spot counterfeit cash, checks, or other forms of payment?  CLICK HERE for a Federal Reserve education area on different denominations.
4.  Read the “from” before you click.  A lot of scammers are moving to digital methods to hack your systems and steal your financial data.  Many digital thieves use a method known as “phishing” to encourage you or your staff to click on links embedded within a standard e-mail.  These text based emails are generally evoke the name of an agency they think you will trust, and they encourage you to click on an embedded link.  Look at the “From” section in the email for a clear giveaway.  Most governmental or organizational groups won’t email you from a gmail or yahoo account.  When in doubt, call before you click.
5.  Be aware of “teams”.  Established shoplifters will often migrate through communities working in teams.  One team member will occupy a salesperson while another lifts items from  your store.  Recognize this tactic and account for all of your guests with either a single staff member bouncing back and forth, or bring in another staff member (when possible).
6.  Check the card.  Credit and Debit cards are used for 75% of retail transactions,Shop Local Christmas Pledgeaccording to a 2016 payment trends study.  Although security mechanisms within cards have improved over the past few years, it is still important to match the card with the person giving you the card.
7.  Secure your deposit.  Even though credit and debit cards are becoming much more prevalent in sales percentages, cash is still a big part of the inflow equation.  Establish a system to safely store and transfer cash to complete your deposit.  A single individual transferring a big bag of cash at night can be a scary proposition.  Emporia is a safe community, but it’s always a good idea to establish safety protocols, with the hope that they will never become a necessity.
8.  Communicate with your peers.  If you spot a counterfeit, have a shoplifter, or experience some other fraudulent activity this holiday season- tell your peers, contact the non-emergency number for the police (or share with Main Street to help spread the word), and help prevent the spread of fraudulent activity.  Thieves thrive when they can hop store to store (digitally or in person), so a little communication can prevent losses for you and your peers.
9.  Know your return/exchange protocols.  Some shoplifters will attempt to return their ill-gotten goods for a cash refund.  Make sure your employees know how to establish a sale, and issue a return/exchange correctly within the confines of your store policy.  Clearly defined return periods (with a receipt), when coupled with allowable return methods (store credit?) can help avoid becoming a target of shoplifters or receiving old/seasonal inventory that you can’t reasonably resell.
10. Stick with your buddy.  Even with all the bright lights during the holidays, extended evening hours can get a little dark.  Assign “buddies” so people can feel a little more secureMoonlight Madness Christmas Specialheading home after a long shift at work.  Make sure people get back to their car or encourage a text when people get home.  Your staff becomes like a family during the hectic holiday season, so make sure your family feels safe.
The vast majority of people you deal with this holiday season will be out shopping for their loved ones and excited to patronize your business.  Don’t lose sight of the positives within the Christmas season!  A little extra training can prevent some losses due to theft or other scams, and we want you to keep your hard earned sales for customers that appreciate what you do.
Sit down with your staff to cover all the hectic elements of the holiday season, but make sure that security is part of the discussion.

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.