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April 07, 2012

Shoplifting - store design and Customer service Management

Store design to reduce shoplifting: It has been reported that employee theft and shoplifting combined account for the largest source of property crime committed. The easiest way for retailers to discourage theft in a store is by taking away opportunities to steal. A little thought into the store's layout and design can prevent theft before a loss occurs.
Here's How:
1.      Checkout: Design the store lay out so customers must pass the register area and staff to exit the store. Never leave the register unlocked or unattended. Do not display merchandise near the store exits.
2.      Tidy Up: Keep the store neat and orderly. Full displays and straightened shelves allow employees to see at a glance if something is missing.
3.      View All: Use mirrors to eliminate blind spots in corners that might hide shoplifters. Maintain adequate lighting in all areas of the store; keep fixtures and displays low for better visibility.
4.      Under Lock and Key: Place small, expensive items in locked cabinets or behind the counter. Rest rooms and dressing areas should be watched at all times. Keep dressing rooms locked and limit the number of items taken in by each customer. Use alarms on unlocked exits and close or block off unused checkout aisles.
5.      Signage: Signs and posters reinforcing security messages should be used. Post anti-shoplifting signs like 'Shoplifters Will Be Prosecuted' in clearly visible locations.
6.      Security: Use security equipment such as closed circuit television, security tags and two-way mirrors. Uniformed security guards are also powerful visual deterrents to the shoplifter.
Customer service to prevent shoplifting: Good store management can be an effective tool against shoplifting. Retailers should also use store layout, adequate inventory controls and follow common security practices to combat shoplifting. Another form of prevention is to use customer service techniques to take away opportunities to steal.
Here's How:
1.      Staffing: Schedule an adequate number of employees to work at one time.
2.      Greetings: Greet every customer that enters the store. This lets the customer know you are aware of their presence.
3.      Be Attentive: Make yourself available to all customers and never leave the store unattended.
4.      Receipts: Give each customer a receipt for every purchase. Require receipts for refunds for cash. Trash any discarded receipts immediately.
5.      Stay Focused: Don't allow customers to distract the cashier while another person is being checked out.
6.      Bag Check: Implement a policy and procedure for backpacks and bags brought in by customers.
7.      Code 3: If you notice suspicious activities, alert other employees immediately. Many stores have a security code to alert staff of possible shoplifters.
8.      Helping Hand: Approach the suspicious person and ask if he/she is finding everything okay. Mention that you’ll be nearby should he/she need your help. Make the shoplifter feel watched.
9.      Tag Swap: Cashiers should watch price tags and be on the lookout for price switching. Ask for a price check if something seems out of place.
10.  Hidden Items: Shoe boxes, pocket books, baskets with lids and any other product easily opened should be inspected by cashiers to be sure it does not contain other merchandise.
11.  Sealed Shut: Every bag should be stapled closed, with the sale receipt attached.

April 06, 2012

Shop lifting and Shoplifters

Shop lifting and shop lifters. Shoplifters can be placed in one of two categories, professional shop lifters and amateur shop lifters. While both groups can be quite skilled at the art of thievery, professional shoplifters steal to make a living and may use force or intimidation. The non-professional shoplifter may be easier to spot.

Shoplifter Methods: Many of these thieves work in groups of two or more to distract the sales staff while they pilfer or steal. Shoplifters learn to take advantage of busy stores during peak hours or they may hit at times when employees are less alert, such as opening, closing and shift changes.

Customer theft occurs through concealment, altering or swapping price tags, or transfer from one container to another. Hiding merchandise is the most common method of shoplifting. Items are concealed in the clothing of the shoplifter, in handbags, strollers, umbrellas or inside purchased merchandise. Bold shoplifters may grab an item and run out of the store. Other methods include price label switching, short changing the cashier, phony returns, and so on.
Spot the Shoplifter: Unfortunately, there is no typical profile of a shoplifter. Thieves come in all ages, races and from various backgrounds. However, there are some signs that should signal a red flag or danger signal for the retailers. While the following characteristics don't necessarily mean guilt, retailers should keep a close eye on shoppers who exhibit the following:
·         Spends more time watching the cashier or sales clerk than actually shopping.
·         Wears bulky, heavy clothing during warm weather or coats when unnecessary.
·         Walks with short or unnatural steps, which may indicate that they are concealing lifted items.
·         Takes several items into dressing room and only leaves with one item.
·         Seems nervous and possibly picks up random items with no interest.
·         Frequently enters store and never makes a purchase.
·         Enters dressing room or rest rooms with merchandise and exits with none.
·     Large group entering the store at one time, especially young men and women. A member of the group causes a disturbance to distract sales staff.
Preventive Measures: One of the most effective tools to prevent shoplifting is good store management. Retailers should also use store layout, adequate inventory controls and follow common security practices to combat shoplifting.

April 05, 2012

Types of Retail shrinkage

The percentage of loss of products between manufacture  and  point of sale is  referred  to as  shrinkage,  or sometimes called shrink. The average shrink percentage in  the  retail  industry  is about 2% of sales. While that may sound low,  shrinkage  cost  U.S.  retailers  over $ 31  billion  in  2001.  The  four  major  sources of inventory shrinkage in retail.

1. Employee Theft: The number one source of shrinkage for a retail business is internal theft. Some of the types of employee theft include discount abuse, refund abuse and even credit card abuse. Unfortunately, this is one loss prevention area that generally doesn't receive as much monitoring as customer theft.

2. Shoplifting:  Coming in at a close second is shoplifting. The crime of shoplifting is the taking of merchandise offered for sale without paying and more than $25 million worth of merchandise is stolen from retailers each and every day. Customer theft occurs through concealment, altering or swapping price tags, or transfer from one container to another. While shoplifting remains a smaller inventory loss source than employee theft, stealing by shoppers still costs retailers about $10 billion annually. One interesting way of shoplifting is to take an edible product like biscuits or a bar of chocolate and eat it in the shop itself. That way the product is consumed without paying a cent!

No matter how big or small the retail store may be, all types of retailers are susceptible to the growing problem of shoplifting.

3. Administrative Error: Administrative and paperwork errors make up approximately 15% of shrinkage. Simple pricing mistakes due to markups or markdowns can cost retailers quite a bit. Administrative errors such as shipping errors, warehouse discrepancies, and misplaced goods or  Cashier or price-check errors made in the customer's favor.

Shrinkage in retail caused by employee actions typically occurs at the point of sale (POS) terminal. There are different ways to manipulate a POS system, such as a cashier giving customers unauthorized discounts, creating fraudulent returns, manually entering values in the system or making a no-sale, which means that the cashier opens the cash counter without registering a sale.

4. Vendor Fraud: The smallest percentage of shrink is vendor fraud. Retailers report vendor fraud occurs most when outside vendors to stock inventory within the store.

April 02, 2012

Data Collection Techniques

Data collection techniques in research are classified by their degree of structure and the degree of directness of the queries or questions posed.

(1)        Structured and direct methods of Data collection  
(2)        Structured and  indirect methods of Data collection
(3)        Unstructured and direct methods of Data collection  
(4)        Unstructured, and indirect methods of Data collection  
(1) Structured and direct methods of Data collection: The most common data collection technique is the structured-direct questionnaire, which requires that the questions be asked with exactly the same wording and in exactly the same sequence for all respondents to control response bias by ensuring that the respondents are responding to exactly the same question. The response to a standardized question may require the selection of an alternative from a predetermined set of responses or alternatives.

Descriptive research projects typically require a Structured and direct questionnaire. The structured question-and-response categories usually require extensive pretesting to ensure that the questions measure what they are designed to measure. The structured direct questionnaire requires extensive time and skill to develop.

There are several advantages of the structured-direct approach, the greatest being administrative simplicity and ease of data processing, analysis, and interpretation. The structured question format is designed to control response bias and increase the reliability of the data. In addition, it can be administered over the telephone, through the postal mail, and by personal interview. We can use the internet via e-mail and websites to solicit responses.

Among the disadvantages of the structured-direct approach are the respondents may not be able to provide the desired data, they may not be willing to provide the data, and the questioning process may bias their responses.

In addition, structured questions with fixed-response alternatives may result in loss of validity for certain types of data. If the data required from the respondent are clear-cut, limited in scope, and well known, the structured-fixed alternative question may be very appropriate. Structured - direct data collection techniques presume that the respondents clearly understand their beliefs and feelings and are willing to communicate these data directly.

However, when the information needs involve exploring the nature of recently formed or evolving beliefs and feelings, the structured approach could seriously influence the validity of the data.

(2) Structured and indirect methods of Data collection:  The structured-indirect approach is often called the performance or objective task technique. Respondents are asked to report factual information about the topic of interest. These responses are analyzed and inferences are drawn about the nature of the respondents' underlying beliefs and feelings regarding the topic.

Structured-indirect questionnaires are generally used to uncover people's attitudes toward sensitive issues of concern to society, like abortion, pollution, or deregulation. A structured indirect questionnaire consists of a number of factual items to which respondents provide structured answers such as yes or no and true or false. A wide variety of items — ranging in degree of favorableness toward the issues being investigated — are included in the questionnaire. The items themselves can be real or fictitious.

The rationale behind a structured-indirect tests is the assumption that what and how much people claim they know about an issue can shed light on their attitudes toward the issue. Presumably greater knowledge reflects the strength and direction of the other attitude components. This contention is based on research findings on selective information processing, findings which indicate that people tend (1) to selectively expose themselves to information, (2) to selectively perceive the information and (3) to selectively retain information which is consistent with their attitudes. Consequently, asking respondents to recall factual information about a topic is a way to indirectly measure the direction and strength of their attitudes.

The structured-indirect approach represents an attempt to gain the advantages of indirect attitude measurement with the data collection and processing advantages of structured approaches.

(3) Unstructured, and direct methods of Data collection: With the unstructured - direct approach the purpose of the research study is clear to the respondent. There is a great degree of flexibility in how the questions are asked and in the degree of probing. The response format is open - ended, and respondents are encouraged to freely express their beliefs and feeling on the issues presented by the interviewer. There are two techniques that use the unstructured - direct approach the focus group interview and the depth interview.

(4) Unstructured and indirect methods of Data collection:
Unstructured - indirect data collection techniques are called projective techniques. They come from clinical psychology and are designed to obtain data indirectly about respondents' beliefs and feelings, very popularly called Psychographics. Projective techniques are designed to explore the underlying reasons and motivations of behavior.

i) Rorschach Ink blot test: The subject is shown a series of ten irregular but symmetrical inkblots, and asked to explain what they see. The subject's responses are then analyzed in various ways, noting not only what was said, but the time taken to respond, which aspect of the drawing was focused on, and how single responses compared to other responses for the same drawing.

ii) Holtzman Inkblot Test: This is a variation of the Rorschach test. Its main differences lie in its objective scoring criteria as well as limiting subjects to one response per inkblot (to avoid variable response). Different variables such as reaction time are scored for an individual's response upon seeing an inkblot.

iii) Thematic apperception test (TAT): Another popular projective test is the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) in which an individual views a series of pictures and is asked to describe various aspects of the scene; for example, the subject may be asked to describe what led up to this scene, the emotions of the characters, and what might happen afterwards.

The examiner then evaluates these descriptions, attempting to discover the conflicts, motivations and attitudes of the respondent. In the answers, the respondent "projects" their unconscious attitudes and motivations into the picture, which is why these are referred to as "projective tests."


iv) Draw-A-Person test: The Draw-A-Person test requires the subject to draw a person. The results are based on a psychodynamic interpretation of the details of the drawing, such as the size, shape and complexity of the facial features, clothing and background of the figure.

v) Sentence completion test: Sentence completion tests require the subject to complete sentence "stems" with their own words. The subject's response is considered to be a projection of their conscious and/or unconscious attitudes, personality characteristics, motivations, and beliefs.


vi) Word Association Test:  In this method, the respondent is presented with a list of stimulus words, and for each word, is asked to respond with what he thinks about the word. The respondent is not given time to think of the responses. The idea is that the `first thought' responses are likely to reveal the true feelings of the respondent about the stimulus.

vii) Fantasy Situation: Here, the respondents are asked to imagine that they are converted into a product itself e.g., car, box of chocolate. This leads to the respondent imagining himself to be product itself and give the human characteristics to the product. This method is used for developing brand perception, brand personality.

viii) Cartoon Completion:  In this method the respondent is shown a cartoon that is similar to a comic strip, with "balloons" indicating speech. Usually, two people are shown talking to each other about a particular product/service/situation, but only one balloon contains the speech.

The situation that is shown in the cartoon is obviously of special interest to the researcher, and is part of the research project under hand. The respondent has to fill the other `balloon' with his answer to what the other person is saying.


ix) Picture Arrangement Test: Created by Silvan Tomkins, this psychological test consists of 25 sets of 3 pictures which the subject must arrange into a sequence that they "feel makes the best sense".