With the retail marketplace undergoing a paradigm shift with different models like mobile POS, e-commerce, ship-from-store, buy-online-pick-up and in-store coming into play; the potential for retail abuse has increased.
According to Walter Palmer, founder of PCG Solutions, “a retail loss prevention firm with clientele such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Toys “R” Us and more, have a competitive marketplace.” It drives business growth, potential and even points of organized retail crime. Organized retail crime, although around on some level, has seen an acceleration in the past 15-20 years. Palmer also says that easier distribution of goods, conversion to cash, and some of the technologies enabling them are major contributing factors.
Technology such as mobile POS, IoT, and social media, while opening up new retail avenues have also significantly increased the retail theft risks associated with the ecosystem. Palmer offers the examples of legitimate sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Letgo, which are often used by organized retail crime players to convert stolen goods to cash as the unintended use of these platforms.
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With human interaction being removed from the equation, the pre-existing challenges of auditing, analytics, and customer identification have only sped up. Palmer says the biggest challenge facing loss prevention professionals will be to build on top of the usual skill-set; doing so in a low-margin, competitive business environment.
The most exciting part of being a loss prevention professional for Palmer is being able to add value to a business by managing and reducing risks such as catastrophic accidents, robberies, violence and theft across a distribution environment. So the focus, according to Palmer, is to figure out how to protect a clients’ associates, employees, and customers. The idea of providing a safer workplace is the most rewarding part of Palmer’s work.