The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

Dan Reynolds, VP Retail Sales, 3SI Security Systems

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Jacque Brittain, the editorial director for LP Magazine to look at some key retail trends and how they will ultimately impact the LP function. While 2018 was a tough year for retailers, the predicted retail apocalypse didn’t actually occur. In fact, some brick-and-mortal retailers are adding locations albeit with changes. For instance, Ikea, Barnes & Noble, and Nike all opened stores with smaller formats better suited for urban areas. Nike and Barnes & Noble incorporated community-use space to draw in customers and foster loyalty with shoppers. 2018 also saw on-line retailers like Amazon and Casper embracing the omnichannel approach by building physical stores. The common denominator to success is to understand the changing nature of the retail space and adapt. So, maybe as Yogi Berra said, the “future ain’t what it used to be”…but it’s certainly bright for retailers nimble and discerning enough to embrace it.

What key trend or development in 2018 will drive the loss prevention agenda in 2019? 

One way to understand trends is to look at the buzzwords we’re hearing. “Omnichannel” is one of the first that come to mind. I think omnichannel is affecting LP in two ways. First, the delivery method of retail continues to evolve. While the “death” of brick-and-mortar stores is an exaggeration, it’s certain that online sales are growing. For traditional stores to survive, they need to adapt to this consumer trend. That means that LP professionals must also adjust their solutions to accommodate. For example, in addition to protecting stores against shoplifting, burglary and robbery, LP now faces the additional challenge of protecting the supply chain at multiple stages. Whether inventory is shipping to a warehouse where items will be sent directly to customers, or organized and sent to physical stores, there are many vulnerabilities along that path that criminals seek to exploit. To combat losses, it’s critical to protect inventory at each and every stage.

Whether inventory is shipping to a warehouse where items will be sent directly to customers, or organized and sent to physical stores, there are many vulnerabilities along that path that criminals seek to exploit. To combat losses, it’s critical to protect inventory at each and every stage.

Further, like retail sales, retail LP should take a multilevel approach. There’s no one-size-fits-all security solution. The solution that protects against robbery in the store won’t work to protect inventory being shipped cross-country or stop the growing menace of porch pirates stealing packages. Becoming familiar with as many security solutions as possible is the best way to protect the most product.

In looking at the risk landscape in 2019 and considering the many challenges facing LP, where do you think LP is the most vulnerable?

Criminals are always evolving their methods and LP must likewise continually evolve its approach. That’s not to say that traditional methods aren’t worthwhile, but by themselves, they’re no longer enough. While it can be challenging to stay on top of the latest technology, it’s incumbent on all of us to do just that. I like the concept of using a “layered” approach to security, where multiple technologies work together to increase the likelihood of predicting and deterring criminal activity and apprehending violent criminals.

I like the concept of using a “layered” approach to security, where multiple technologies work together to increase the likelihood of predicting and deterring criminal activity and apprehending violent criminals.

The increase in retail crime also impacts law enforcement, and retailers who are perceived as doing their part to stem this growth will strengthen their relationships with police. Interrupting the crime cycle helps both police and the community as a whole. Less crime and fewer criminals on the street will help create a safer world for everyone. This definitely sends a positive message for retailers and is a way to connect with potential customers and employees.

The retail culture is changing at a fast and furious pace. In 2019, how do you see these changes reshaping LP?

It really will be all about technology. Smart retailers are using intelligence-enabled platforms to deliver more-personalized customer experiences every day. Those that don’t embrace customization will find themselves on the losing side of the sales equation. Just as with the retail sales function, there are benefits to leveraging technology in the physical security space as well. Facial recognition and AI have become hot topics in loss prevention.

Smart retailers are using intelligence-enabled platforms to deliver more-personalized customer experiences every day. Those that don’t embrace customization will find themselves on the losing side of the sales equation.

Traditional security methods have become smarter: cameras and alarm systems now have the intelligence to decipher what they sense and see. Covert GPS solutions have become more proactive and provide real-time results. Alarm systems have evolved in sophistication to improve their performance as well. But I don’t believe there is a “cure-all” approach for anything, and even with this tech-injection, we will continue to see the best payback coming from a layered approach to safety, albeit with more tech-driven layers.

Looking at the industry as a whole, what is the most important lesson that loss prevention professionals should take away from the past year and apply to their career development as they move forward?

LP professionals who want to succeed must embrace change and the need to keep learning. It’s always easier to make low-risk decisions and stick with the “tried and trues”, but the big rewards will be had by those who are open to new possibilities.

Lastly, relationships. True success is built on good relationships and long-term trust:  in the industry, with law enforcement and with your own internal company contacts. I am a firm believer in that. Tap your industry organizations:  the Loss Prevention Foundation or the Loss Prevention Research Council are two that come to mind. We’re heavily involved with both groups and they support research, ongoing education and networking that will help keep you plugged in to what’s going on in the industry.

Did you agree with Dan’s opinions? Feel free to share your comments or thoughts here!