Retail security best practices to keep your store and customers safe

In 2019, it was reported that criminal activity, such as shoplifting and criminal damage, cost the retail industry a staggering £4,821mn.

Assigning a high priority to the physical security of your premises and the wellbeing of your staff and customers is crucial.

Here are the core recommendations that we make to our clients on physical security.

1. Know the threats

Whether you're a national supermarket chain or an artisanal jeweller, your retail business faces three primary threats:

  • Shoplifting

  • Burglary

  • In-house theft

While none of these can be countered with 100% reliability, all of them are manageable. Experienced security pros do this by adopting the mindset of a shoplifter, a burglar or a light-fingered employee.

A shoplifter, for example, will usually be on the lookout for small, high-ticket items stashed in out-of-the-way places. Make a tour of your store wearing your 'shoplifter hat'...and take along a notebook. If you find that a particular corner makes your fingers itch, resolve to get it changed. That might involve physically rearranging the space, or using CCTV or other measures to deliver improved oversight (see #4 below).

You can adopt the same approach with the other bullet points, too. Scout the 'staff only' areas in the manner of an in-house thief, and the outside of the store like a burglar.

2. Make the right hires

It might seem an obvious point, but you need to be certain that your employees won't compromise you. Background checks should be an integral part of your store's security measures.

Take a leaf out of the book of larger businesses and tailor the checks to the role. If you're hiring a cashier or clerk, address and employment verification and verifying the lack of a criminal record should suffice. If you're bringing in warehouse staff and drivers, then you’ll want to add drug tests and records of motoring offences to the list. If you're hiring staff who will deal with vulnerable younger people, in-depth background assessments will be needed.

3. Educate and inform

Make sure that all your employees are fully up-to-speed on your security policies. Ensure that your guidelines and procedures are clearly documented and that they're available to your staff during their onboarding process. Follow-up show-and-tell sessions will reinforce the message, as will posting guidelines in places where staff gather — such as the stockroom, back office, or behind the counter.

If you don’t have in-house security specialists - and you don't have time to coach your employees yourself - consider bringing in the experts from RG Security. We're used to employee communication, and we'll make sure that everyone understands their responsibilities.

4. Tool up

Many start-up businesses resist spending money on security measures...until their first big loss. Give serious thought to some or all of the following:

CCTV cameras

Over the last couple of decades, the term "closed-circuit television" has become outdated as old-fashioned videotape has given way to networked digital cameras. Modern surveillance cameras are tiny, smart devices that offer a dazzling array of functionality, and they're surprisingly cheap.

Security tagging

Large retailers have relied on security tags since the 1980s, and now SMEs are catching up via accessible systems like barcoded labels. If your budget will stretch, RFID tagging provides even stronger security, plus a number of additional benefits...including easier inventorying.

Security shutters A no-brainer for burglary prevention, and less expensive than you might expect. If you're unsure about investing in a set of shutters, stroll down your local high street and note how many businesses have invested in their own set.

5. Conduct your own security audit

Security auditing has been described as 'imagining everything that can go wrong'! To carry out your own audit, run through every one of the processes that you and your staff would need to complete on a working day, from the moment you open shop to the moment you lock up. Now imagine how that might go wrong, and note those points in a checklist.

  • The alarm is working properly

  • The shutters and locks are functional

  • Every key is known and accounted for

  • Staff-only areas are not accessible outside of business hours

  • All stock is tagged

  • Only authorised personnel have access to the POS etc.

When you've completed your checklist, move around the store running through all the operations it describes. If you can check off every single item, your security policy is working well.

6. Security guards

Security guards are an increasingly common sight at retail premises, and their deterrent effect on potential criminals cannot be overestimated. However, providing your own uniformed guards is prohibitively expensive. RG Security has an in-house team of experienced, well-vetted security personnel who we can deploy exactly as needed with minimum fuss.

Most businesses find that the process of formulating security policy is ongoing! If you need help with this complex task, call us on 023 8181 0000. We'd be delighted to assist.