LP Magazine

JUL-AUG 2019

LP magazine publishes articles for loss prevention, asset protection, and retail professionals covering shrinkage, investigations, shoplifting, internal theft, fraud, technology, best practices, and career development.

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BIOMETRICS: RETAIL'S BEST KEPT SECRET which has become a major contributor. Indeed, an increasing C-suite expectation is for loss prevention to become a key partner in enhancing the customer experience and contributing to bottom-line profit. The new loss prevention metric for success is built on how much an organization can enhance profits. In many instances, traditional loss prevention departments have evolved from "loss prevention" to "asset protection" and now to "asset and profit protection." The Problem Retail continues to be plagued by shrink, which is a critical metric of whether many retailers have a good or bad year. According to the 2018 National Retail Security Survey (NRSS), shrink took a $46.8 billion bite out of the US retail economy in 2017. It is no longer acceptable just to beat the shrinkage goal. The new norm, dictated by the C-suite, is by how much an organization can beat the goal. As shrinkage reduction programs continue to challenge loss prevention professionals, the emerging technologies and programs used to combat theft (both internal and external) have also become more sophisticated. This increase in sophistication is just one reason why the educational needs of the profession are changing and have led to the creation of such resources as the Loss Prevention Foundation, its certification courses LPQualified and LPCertified, and the Loss Prevention Research Council. The danger and cost associated with making any external apprehension, the strain placed on criminal justice resources, and the exposure to adverse litigation all continue to make many leaders question whether they should be making external apprehensions. Even alternative shoplifter programs, which is only one element of the external issue, have been challenged, questioned, and abandoned. The traditional civil recovery approach, as regulated by state statutes, still seems to be a highly effective post-apprehension program for many retailers. According to the Jack L. Hayes International 29th Annual Retail Theft Survey, only 7.8 percent of total retail theft losses resulted in recovery. So how cost effective are the industry's internal and external apprehension efforts? Based on these grim facts, retailers who rely too much on after-the-fact detection and apprehension are fighting a losing battle. It has never been truer that you cannot apprehend and prosecute your way to a good shrink result, especially as retailers continue to grapple with the risks and costs associated with injury to customers and employees when attempting the recovery of stolen merchandise. Employee dishonesty still accounts for 33 percent of total losses, according to the 2017 NRSS, and many believe that point of sale (POS) presents an easy opportunity to decrease these losses. Employee theft is actually one of the easiest loss components to be addressed. Since so many incidents occur in confined and controlled areas, it is easier to focus on these areas than on an entire store, as shoplifting requires. Unfortunately, many professionals rely on traditional programs and policies that have limited impact. There is, however, a ray of hope. One technology has proven to be highly effective in both preventing employee theft and improving operational efficiencies—biometrics. What Are Biometrics? Simply put, biometrics are any metrics that derive data from the features of a human that uniquely identify that person. Fingerprints, palm prints, eyes (retina and iris scans), faces, handwriting, voices, and DNA are some examples—with fingerprint biometrics being the most frequently used. Implementation into our smart phones and other technology devices has made fingerprint recognition very common. In fact, it has quickly become the most secure and convenient method to replace passwords, pins, swipe cards, and keys—traditional authentication credentials that can easily be shared or stolen. When confronted with evidence of theft utilizing these outdated credentials, employees can simply say, "Someone must have stolen my password." In other words, it is incumbent on the retailer to prove culpability in these cases. Many readers have probably noticed and experienced the CLEAR difference at many airports and large professional sports entertainment facilities. Even when a traveler has TSA Precheck or Global Entry, CLEAR helps get through screening even faster—by verifying their identity, so they can walk right up to the security bins. CLEAR uses biometrics—a person's fingerprints and eyes—to confirm identity. Even rental car agencies such as Hertz Fast Lane are using this technology to speed up service. Other industries such as health care, travel, and government have been using fingerprint biometrics for years, 53 LP MAGAZINE | JULY–AUGUST 2019

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