LP Magazine

MAY-JUN 2018

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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continued on page 46 SECURITY AT THE SOURCE 44 MAY–JUNE 2018 | LOSSPREVENTIONMEDIA.COM The issue is also broader than LP and buyers. That relationship is critical, but it is just one aspect of a larger ecosystem on the retailer's side that requires proper alignment. LP, merchants, store operations, sales incentives—they all need to work together for retailers to work effectively with vendors, according to DeHoratius. After a challenging shrink year at GameStop in 2017, and with the company transitioning into collectibles and other merchandise, the company saw value in meeting more frequently and proactively on shrink issues. The internal partnering and communication has been very successful, according to GameStop's Adam Alford. For more than six months, the company has held biweekly committee meetings to talk about shrink issues, testing, ideas, and high-risk product launches. The meetings include key department heads and representatives from inventory control; loss prevention; head merchants from collectibles, video games, and other key product categories; general counsel; and vice presidents of store operations, IT, and business planning and analytics. "The goal is to drive awareness around shrink and to bring up issues and discuss solutions," said Alford. "It also reinforces the issue of shrink for merchants so that they can go to a vendor for new packaging or new fixtures and know that everyone is really behind it." Monnin sees the same imperative for inclusiveness on the manufacturer's side of the aisle, with operations leaders engaging with sales people. That team can then engage in collaboration with a retailer's team, including buyers and LP. "There have to be bridges across all these different groups for effective collaboration," she said. Specifically, Monnin thinks multifunctional meetings are critical when theft problems arise, where retailers bring in their team, including LP experts, and manufacturers include asset protection, operations leaders, analysts, and product supply people. "You need to have more people than just the category buyer and the sales person. There needs to be a more expansive meeting of many stakeholders in order to build the trust that leads to data sharing and collaborative solutions that fit a retailer's LP strategy, and for store operations to be effective." External forums also play a useful role in facilitating solution sharing, according to industry leaders, such as Checkpoint Systems' annual National Source Tagging Symposium (May 22) and the RILA annual conference. RB's Rich Widup sat on the steering committee for RILA's 2018 Retail Asset Protection Conference and said the involvement has been invaluable to his effort to work with retail partners. "Not only to hear where their pain points are but also to have open and honest discussions about solutions and to come up with creative ideas," he said. "That has been really key from our perspective." The LPRC boasts fifty-five major retail chain members, sixty-five solutions companies, and a half-dozen manufacturer members, including P&G. "Being involved in LPRC is valuable for building relationships, and in identifying what works, and for research that I can take back to my company and make people aware of," said Monnin. LP directors said they see similar benefits on their end—learning about solutions that their peers are coordinating on with manufacturers and passing those ideas onto to their merchant teams. Doggette sees similar value—Lowe's is also an LPRC member—and he hopes that the LPRC can provide a successful venue for addressing the traditional ad hoc approach to product protection. He believes that the LPRC is the key to bridge the gap between retailers, "so we can work with manufacturers on solutions that will work for everyone." It's a common sentiment that retailers don't align with respect to the product protection they ask for from vendors— with one retailer asking for one thing and another for something else. Bill Inzeo expressed similar sympathy for manufacturers' need to serve many of their retail partners and thinks joint data collection/sharing provides another way for retailers to broaden cooperation. The company participated in a data collection effort lead by Checkpoint Systems to provide manufacturers with anonymized, item-level theft data from a group of retailers, a fresh take at cooperation that he thought worked pretty well. "Retailers need to work together to enable the manufacturers to be more supportive," he said. "And this allowed us to approach them with a more uniformed ask for support." Together into the Future No one seems to believe truly universal product protection solutions are viable today, but there is yearning on both the manufacturer and retailer side for additional uniformity, answers that can be applied more widely across retail channels. There seems to be, on both sides, certain weariness to product-by-product protection solutions. There is also a sense that while relationships are the central A successful product protection partnership with a manufacturer can occasionally hinge on luck—right time, right ask. But as for elements that LP can influence, making sure merchant teams aren't blind to inventory shrink and gaining their support is critical.

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