Shoplifting, administrative error, and supplier and employee fraud cost U.S. retailers nearly $44 billion in 2014. That's about 1.4% of all retail sales for the year. There are many ways to prevent this type of shrinkage, but among the easiest is simply changing the way you set your store up. In other words, your retail shelving layout can help you prevent both theft and misplaced merchandise.
Your retail shelving layout is your first line of defense in loss prevention. How?
Keep your merchandise carefully organized
Make sure you have enough retail shelving – and the right types – on the floor itself to carefully display all merchandise so that it can be seen at a glance. Stack clothing carefully in neat piles on shelving and make use of hooks, bins, waterfalls, et cetera, so that everything is clearly displayed. Not only will this make it easier for your customers to see and buy your merchandise, but it will make it easier for you to see when something has been disturbed. Any "missing" merchandise should match up instantly with store receipts. If it doesn't, you'll know right away that something may be amiss.
Create "dead end" aisles and departments
Bulky electronics, clothing, and larger "big ticket" items can't be kept behind the counter or locking cases, but you can prevent loss by creating aisles and departments that "dead end" – meaning there is only one way in and one way out. This discourages shoplifters because they cannot simply slip away unnoticed with merchandise.
Put small or easily concealable expensive items under lock and key in a central area
Jewelry and expensive clothing is best displayed in well-lit glass cases that are kept under lock and key. This is better for sales since customers can see the merchandise, but it also protects that merchandise from being stolen. Place these glass cases in high-traffic areas at the center of your store as you consider your retail shelving layout setup. That way you and your employees can keep an eye on them at all times no matter where you are in the store.
Create a central traffic layout that guides customers to the front
Ideally, your store layout should be centered around a counterclockwise foot traffic pattern. Customers come into the store, look left, and then walk right. As they shop they should be guided through the store on a central footpath that meanders around the store in a counterclockwise fashion. They can see every department from this footpath; to shop, they can break away from the footpath, browse in a particular department, and then rejoin traffic whenever they're ready.
This is good for profits because customers can see everything you have to offer, but it's also helpful in preventing shoplifting and other kinds of loss. Because customers have to leave the footpath to shop in every department and then rejoin the footpath to continue, they remain in full view of employees and other customers and are unable to slip out any unmonitored exit.
The checkout should also be a checkpoint
Guiding customers through checkout to exit the store is yet another discouragement against shoplifting. This also gives your employees a way to monitor any suspicious behavior, bulkiness in underclothing, et cetera, that may signify theft has taken place.
Even though it's a good idea to implement high-tech solutions like CCTV cameras and mirrors to prevent shoplifting and other kinds of theft, one of the easiest and least expensive ways is to set up your store to discourage shoplifting before it ever happens.