by Brad Culbert, Retail Defender
It’s no secret that the world of technology is changing faster than ever. When you picture the future of retailing, you might see holographic glasses replacing changing rooms, or integration with social media platforms to seek approval from friends.
However, there’s a ‘behind the scenes’ technology that’s uncovering great results for retailers, without changing the customer experience. The secret is in your business data and how that data can be leveraged and utilised to drive competitive opportunity and improved efficiencies.
A new generation of Business Analytics tools is making it easier than ever to find insights in data and to embed these insights in operations and decision making – be it in sales, procurement, finance, marketing or loss prevention.
What is your business trying to tell you?
The raw information has been in your retail business all along, but it’s been difficult to collect from different sources and compare. In the case of loss prevention, managers used to have to go through sales and trading reports, balance sheets and financials, manually sifting through the detail, comparing stock reports with what was sold, somehow finding what was lost and how it was lost.
Now, new technology is making it easier than ever to capture data from different systems, to highlight potential issues and helping to track down where loss is occurring. Sophisticated loss prevention data profiling can now pro-actively monitor operational environments, allowing suspicious activity to “bubble up” to the surface, presented in intuitive dashboards and reports highlighting key areas of concern. Top-down analysis can provide an overall view, broken down by state, region, franchisee, store or individual operator level. Interactive analysis pathways can guide the user into more detail, right down to transaction item level.
Not only does that help you pinpoint the causes of loss more accurately, it also shines a better light on the results of any mitigation strategies put in place, either reactively or proactively.
These capabilities mean Loss Prevention Managers no longer need to rely on tip-offs, manual data manipulation and investigations – hugely increasing their coverage and efficiency. Efforts to reduce shrinkage are amplified, immediately impacting your bottom line by allowing you to recover lost revenue and do a lot more with the limited loss prevention manpower available in most retailers.
The future of loss prevention
By making it easier to identify loss, pro-active loss prevention strategies can even have an impact on sales capabilities – not just in the recuperation of lost revenue.
Changes in store design, product placement and product selection are reflected in stock and transaction data. Tweaking these changes, in conjunction with a loss prevention expert, lead to an increase in stock availability and valid sales – which is ultimately the goal of any retailer.
Loss Prevention Investigator David Baker says, “no longer are loss prevention stakeholders working in silo. Now that there is more value placed on data and intelligence, we are seeing a more collaborative way of working emerge – from the buyer, to the store designer – everyone is now starting to think about the impact on loss prevention before products are purchased, and before they are laid out in store.”
In the past, loss prevention systems have been expensive and cumbersome, often as an add-on to a Point of Sale (POS) platform, locking retailers into vendor technology and limiting scope to integrate data from other systems, preventing a holistic view of Loss Prevention. Now a new generation of Loss Prevention technologies, like Bistech’s Retail Defender platform, allow you to seamlessly integrate with existing Point-of-Sale (POS) platforms and other systems, while infusing intuitive advanced analytics capabilities.
Loss Prevention expert David Baker says a common form of loss is staff issuing fraudulent refunds. Baker adds “If a loss prevention manager can drill down to an individual operator and find their refunds are up to 25% when the company average is 6%, they have identified a problem. They can then look at individual transactions and find a credit card transaction has been refunded as cash, and the CCTV footage doesn’t match with the timestamp on the POS refund.” Baker believes that once a retail business gets access to the real figures, the value of investing in a comprehensive loss prevention strategy is clearly evident. It becomes a no brainer, with clear return on investment in a short space of time.
The impact of “big data” in retail
The power of capturing, analysing and uncovering insights from non-traditional data sources and large data volumes is known as Big Data and it’s transforming many industries. Data Science is no longer restricted to the realm of ‘number crunchers’ who sit in a back room. New technologies are infusing data science into operational and analytic systems, bringing new insights and helping better business decisions to be made.
The ability to leverage data and insights for competitive advantage are now key to any modern business. In the field of Loss Prevention, this means thinking smarter about how to tap into these data assets to streamline the identification and investigation of employee fraud, training deficiencies or operational inefficiency.
Looking to the future we see even tighter integration across operational platforms forming a clear trend in the industry. Some futuristic technologies like facial recognition and number plate recognition are finding their way into the loss prevention strategies of some larger retailers. But on a smaller scale, there is an easy, efficient way to get the benefits of Big Data now and embrace the huge potential to claw back lost revenue.
Check out Bistech’s Retail Defender platform and register for a demo today.