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The risks of business ownership


By: Morné Stoltz, MiWay Head of Business Insurance

For most South Africans the occasional brush with crime is an unfortunate inevitability, particularly in major centres. For business owners however, this alarming trend is especially unnerving, given their reliance on stock and increasing competition from online retail sites.

Despite the prevalence of security cameras and high-tech alarm systems, shoplifting continues to be a concern for retailers across the country, with well-versed thieves easily able to outwit these technological barriers.

Rather than simply accepting theft as part and parcel of business ownership, it’s important that store owners remain vigilant, enforcing appropriate preventative measures and learning to identify some of the key signs that could give a criminal away.

Here are a few top tips to bear in mind so as to avoid falling victim to shoplifting:

1. Know the signs
While not all shoplifters employ the same modus operandi, there are a few key behavioural traits that should raise the alarm. Shoppers trying not to get noticed, or walking around nervously are obvious candidates, as are those who loiter purposefully, picking up and putting back the same items repeatedly. Also be on the look-out for customers wearing large coats or clothing items, especially in warm weather, or carrying oversized bags. Ensure your retail staff is well versed in the tell-tale signs of shoplifters, which will hopefully enable them to take action before it’s too late.

2. Put in place shoplifting policies and procedures
Your employees might be able to spot a shoplifter, but they might not be as certain of what to do once the suspect has been identified. It’s vital that you educate your staff on how best to handle a potential shoplifting situation, giving them a clear breakdown of the policies and procedures to follow in the event of an incident.

3. Let customer service be your tool
Greeting your customers as they enter your store isn’t just great customer service. By acknowledging their presence, you send a clear sign that you’re aware of your environment, something that could deter opportunistic criminals. So make sure that your staff is ready with a welcoming smile if you want to throw would-be shoplifters off their game.

4. Use your store layout to your advantage
The layout of your store can make an enormous difference, as criminals are well versed in spotting those unmanned corners and dead spaces. By changing up your store’s appearance from time to time and keeping blind spots to a minimum, you’ll keep criminals on their toes and ensure that they’ll think twice about bringing out those sticky fingers.

5. Know your stock
If you don’t keep tabs on your stock, it’ll be difficult for you to identify theft in the first place, leaving you far more vulnerable to crime. By maintaining a detailed overview of your stock items, you’ll be able to identify thefts when they happen, picking up any patterns that might potentially enable you to stop thieves in their tracks.

6. Gear up with the correct security measures
Unfortunately, it’s impossible for your staff members to monitor each and every customer at all times, particularly if you need them to drive sales. As such, it’s important to make use of crime prevention tools like security cameras, stock tags and additional alarms to act as a backup when your employees are otherwise occupied. Hiring additional security personnel can also act as a huge deterrent and if you’re lucky enough to operate in an area with local community policing, be sure to partner up with them.

7. Be vigilant
It might seem obvious, but being on the ball can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your business protected. By equipping your team with the tools to pre-empt a crime, you’ll be far likelier to stop it before it happens. If you or your staff suspects someone is planning to rob you, consider offering them help or repacking shelves close by to demonstrate that you’re watching. In most instances, this should be enough to send them away empty handed.

If you find your business has fallen victim to shoplifting, it is important to let police and security guards know of the incident. Loss of stock can cause serious damage to your cash flow – therefore it’s an important consideration to add Stock insurance cover to your Business Property policy to cover your losses caused by shoplifting.

MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)

Date Posted: 2017-03-07
Posted By: MiWay Insurance Limited
Listed under these Business Listing Categories: Financial services,

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