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Marketing online during COVID-19

Marketing online during COVID-19

To read more about how to be found by local shoppers, click here. 

How easy is it for customers to find you online?

When you open an online store, attracting traffic or site visitors is very different from attracting foot traffic to your physical store. In fact, it can be even harder for shoppers to find you because there isn’t an equivalent to “street traffic” online. If you have a new online store that does not rank online in search results, would-be shoppers would need to know the exact website address to be able to find you.

This is why it’s common for a new web store to receive very little traffic in the beginning without any marketing. This is particularly true with brick and mortar first retailers as established stores often start online stores as secondary channels or even just as online catalogues. And even though the current COVID-19 crisis has driven many shoppers online, being found is still an issue when your web store is new. In order to get regular customers and traffic to your site, it’s going to take some effort on your part to promote and market your online shop.

Below you’ll find some easy and cost-effective ways to start promoting your online store to both new and existing customers.


6 tips to increase online presence

  1. Adding live chat to your website
  2. Using automated email campaigns
  3. FREE Google Shopping listings
  4. Selling on Facebook and Instagram
  5. Retargeting ads
  6. Optimizing the checkout process

How to drive more e-commerce sales

Facebook Messenger
Live chat on a website

1. Adding live chat to your website

Adding live chat to your online store allows you to chat directly with your website visitors in real-time. It’s a must-have tool for any online retailer as it’s one of the best ways to answer customer questions right when they are on your site and encourage immediate sales. 

Instant messenger applications such as Facebook Messenger make it easy for retailers to add live chat to their site and take advantage of its many benefits. After all, millions of people already communicate through Facebook Messenger daily, presenting a huge market for retailers to tap into. Additionally, many e-commerce software providers (including TAKU eCommerce) offer direct integrations to Facebook Messenger – for free!

Click here to find out more about adding live chat to your TAKU online store. 

The following are some of the ways your business can benefit from adding live chat to your website: 

  • Reduced expenses: Traditional customer service and support teams usually operate via phone. But this can be costly – in terms of costs per employee and toll charges. For smaller retailers especially, a free live chat platform such as Facebook Messenger can help reduce costs substantially. 
  • Increased sales: According to a study done by CrazyEgg, 38% of customers are more likely to buy from a company that offers live chat support. 
  • Improved customer service and loyalty: Customers appreciate having access to live chat support as it leads to faster problem resolution and improved customer service. Live chat also results in more loyal customers; 51% of shoppers are more likely to stay with or buy again from a company if they offer live chat support. Even if your live chat is not available 24/7, shoppers are increasingly comfortable asking “chatbots” for help after hours to find information or to send a message to the team.
Automated abandoned cart email

2. Using automated email campaigns

Email marketing continues to be one of the highest performing marketing channels in terms of return on investment (ROI). According to Hubspot, email generates $38 for every $1 spent, resulting in an outstanding 3,800% ROI

As a retailer selling online, the best way to gain subscribers and have your emails stand out is to use email automation. For those not familiar with email automation, these are marketing tools that allow you to send out targeted messages at certain times or based on specific actions. For example, you can create email campaigns that automatically remind customers of the products they were interested in, encourage shoppers to buy products that they added to their online shopping carts but didn’t purchase (automated abandoned cart emails), or simply thank them for being loyal customers. 

Basically, automated email campaigns give you the ability to use analytics to create an individualized email for each of your customers. And the benefits are numerous; you can encourage the first purchase, increase loyalty and drive repeat purchases, and re-engage inactive customers. As a result, you build personalized relationships with customers while increasing your revenue. 

Google Shopping
Google Shopping Listings

3. FREE Google Shopping listings 

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, Google just recently announced the launch of unpaid Product Listings. Beginning on April 27th, 2020, U.S. retailers will be able to sell on Google for free with Google Shopping. While it will initially launch in the States only, Google does have plans to expand this globally before the end of year. Click here to learn more. 

Google Shopping Ads have proven to be one of the most effective ways to drive e-commerce sales. The ads appear above organic search results in Google and consist of a product image, rating, price, and store information. To learn more about Google Shopping, click here.

They have become a popular option for many ecommerce merchants and for good reason; they have a 30% higher conversion rate compared to text only ads. Below are some of the key benefits of Google Shopping:

  • Attract better store traffic: product ads are displayed based on the keywords a user searches for. For example, if a user conducts a search for “pet food”, Product Listings of pet stores will be shown. If a user isn’t interested in your products, your ads won’t be displayed – which brings us to the next point. 
  • Higher ROI: Google Product Listings have a higher conversion rate due to the fact that they drive relevant traffic. This means more relevant traffic to your online store at a lower cost per click. 
  • Stand out: Google Product Listings instantly grab the attention of users as they are the only ads in search results that contain photos.  
  • Broad reach: Multiple products can appear under a single search which means more exposure for your store and products.
Instagram Shop
An example of an Instagram shop

4. Selling on Facebook and Instagram 

Facebook and Instagram remain the most popular social media platforms with both applications amassing billions of daily active users. Taking advantage of the popularity of both social media channels can help you reach new customers and sell more. 

Think about it this way: your customers are already on social media. Adding a way for them to browse and purchase your products directly on each platform gives your brand increased visibility. And it makes it easier for shoppers to buy your products –  all they have to do is click on the “Shop” or “Store” tab to view your products. 

It takes just a few clicks to start selling on Facebook or Instagram with TAKU eCommerce. Click here to learn more. 

The following are some ways you can drive more traffic to your store with Facebook Shop: 

  • List store details such as your store address, phone, website, temporary service changes etc. This makes your business more accessible because it makes it easier for potential shoppers to find your business when they search Facebook. 
  • Share content about your online store including special offers, new products, contests etc. 
  • Use Facebook Ads to target a specific type of shopper, build brand loyalty, and increase your online sales. 

Follow these tips to sell more on Instagram: 

  • 60% of Instagram users rely on the platform to find products so make sure to use high quality product photos
  • Take advantage of user-generated content (customer photos). Let your customers serve as your best billboards and encourage shoppers to tag your brand with photos of their latest purchases.
  • Use Instagram Ads such as Stories and Carousels to target customers shopping on Instagram. 
Facebook Retargeting Ad
An example of a Facebook Retargeting Ad

5. Retargeting Ads 

Retargeting ads are effective at re-engaging customers who haven’t purchased on their previous visit to your online store. In fact, shoppers who see retargeting ads are 70% more likely to convert.

Basically, retargeting is a form of online advertising that targets users based on their past behavior on your website. Chances are, you’ve been exposed to retargeting ads yourself at one point or another. For example, after browsing through some clothes online you may have noticed ads popping up on your social media advertising the specific clothes and store you were just viewing.

Retargeting ads are very effective at encouraging shoppers to “finish” their sale and generally cost less than regular social media ads. But it’s important to remember that they are only effective if you are already receiving a reasonable amount of website traffic as they will only be able target people who have already visited your online store.

The most popular methods of retargeting include using the Facebook pixel or Google Adwords. The Facebook pixel is essentially a small software code that “follows” your customers as they browse your online store and allows Facebook to advertise to them after. 

You can start retargeting in minutes with TAKU eCommerce’s built-in integration with the Facebook pixel. Alternatively, you can download the retargeting app for Google and Facebook. Learn more here.

If you prefer to target customers using Google Adwords, you must add Google Analytics to your store and connect it with your Google Adwords account. Learn more here.

Remember: When you use remarketing strategies, you are collecting extra information about your site visitors and customers, which means you must update your privacy policy. 

Optimize the online checkout process

6. Optimize the checkout process

Retailers who are looking for ways to increase their online revenue often overlook the importance of checkout optimization. But in order to reduce checkout abandonment and improve your conversion rate, it’s important to create the best checkout experience possible. 

The following are some ways to create the optimal e-commerce checkout experience: 

  • Optimize the checkout experience for mobile: The majority of online shopping is done on mobile devices. When you are developing your layout, ensure your design is mobile-responsive. If you are not design or tech savvy, consider choosing an e-commerce provider with premade layouts. All of TAKU eCommerce’s pre-made themes are mobile-friendly but whatever platform you are using, make sure to always check your website on every device (desktop, tablet, mobile) once it’s published to make sure everything is re-sizing correctly.
  • Add custom messages at checkout: Display any important information to your customers at checkout. For example, you can draw your customers’ attention to special offers, remind them of your shipping/return policies, remind them that they will receive an email confirmation, etc. 
  • Be transparent about costs: Unexpected costs are the number one cause of cart abandonment in the online shopping world. Make sure to provide as many details as possible by including a subtotal, shipping fees, applicable taxes, and a final order total.

We hope you found this article helpful.

Keep an eye out on our blog for more e-commerce marketing tips and strategies.

In the meantime, learn more about how you grow your retail business online with TAKU eCommerce.

COVID-19 Survival Tips for Retailers

COVID-19 Survival Tips for Retailers

👇👇👇 Scroll to Download the PDF Version of our COVID-19 Survival Tips for Retailers!!

For retailers dealing with the impact of COVID-19, shutting down may not be an immediate option, particularly if they are an essential business in their community. Over the past 10 days, we’ve spoken with many small businesses who are looking for ways to better manage the impact. Scroll down for tips on how you can minimize the impact of COVID-19:

Sell Online and Stay in Contact with your Customers

  1. Add or Expand Digital Sales Channels including e-commerce for shipment or pick-up in store. Read more regarding the TAKU special offer to support local businesses who want to start selling online.
  2. Offer Contact-less Options. It is expected that shopper behaviour will be significantly impacted by COVID-19 at least until there is a vaccine developed next year. This means that shoppers will have health and safety top-of-mind for the foreseeable future. Prepare now to make sure you are prepared before your competitors. Take this time to set up “Leave At My Door” delivery options or “pre-scheduled contactless curbside pickup” with orders placed online, by phone, fax or email. These are great options as you have confirmed pre-paid sales before you pack an order, you minimize staff and customer exposure and you avoid the cost of packaging products for shipment.
  3. Make sure you have a Google My Business profile and keep your store hours up-to-date. For a limited time, Google will be showcasing any Posts made on merchant GMB profiles to people searching locally to ensure that local businesses get more coverage in their community. GMB Local Posts are a free (!!) and effective way to stand out in local searches and update shoppers about any new offers, delivery options, etc
  4. Join Local Social Media Support Groups to stay engaged with the community. These are not commercial spaces so don’t sell unless it’s appropriate but find out what your community needs. Here is a great example of a small business that found a way to give back.
  5. Connect with local businesses to pool resources. Large retailers who rely on delivery such as Amazon can’t ship products in a timely manner anymore. There may be an opportunity for your local businesses to step up, particularly if you supply complementary products by offering local delivery together.
  6. Keep an eye out for government Requests for Proposals if you’re in a position to re-tool your business to help address the challenge of COVID-19..
  7. Look for ways to leverage the new “Stay-at-home Economy,” the new market created by demand from family, friends and children in self-isolation as a result of coronavirus. There are reports of sizable increases in at-home related categories including: personal fitness gear, home office equipment, indoor games, home and garden supplies, educational materials and books, hobbies, entertainment-related electronics, direct-to-consumer (DTC) friendly products suitable for mail-order subscriptions such as coffee, etc.
  8. Keep an eye on your POS sales data to see if there are new trends to make sure you are stocking and promoting the products that shoppers want now vs. what they wanted to buy a few months ago.
  9. Take advantage of marketing offers to get free ad credits to reduce the cost of staying in contact with customers. For example, Google has announced $340 million in Google Ads credits available to all SMBs with active accounts over the past year. Credit notifications will appear in your existing Google Ads accounts and can be used at any point until the end of 2020 across Google advertising platforms.
  10. Be flexible and don’t be afraid to take action. A flexible and adaptable mindset is what will get you through this crisis. The situation is changing day-by-day which means you will need to make adjustments in your response. Even if you come up against resistance in the beginning, shoppers will eventually come around because people still need to buy and consume things.
  11. Expect long-term changes in shopper behavior. While some pre-crisis shopper behavior will return, this pandemic will have long-term impact on general shopping behavior. Make sure you’re aware of those changes and adapt your business to match them. My parents are both over the age of 70 and have never ordered anything online in their lives. While they still prefer shopping in stores, needless to say, they are both avid online grocery shoppers now and will likely continue to buy more online in the future as they find it more convenient for re-stocking.
  12. If sell B2B, find a way to pivot to target recession-resistant or essential companies as they will be the most likely to invest in new products or services.

In-Store Management Tips

1) Encourage Visible Hygiene Management in store by having all staff use gloves or wear masks. Have hand sanitizers readily available at the checkout area, near doors with handles, etc. If possible, have staff wipe baskets or trolley handles before passing them to shoppers.

2) Have clear signage to help customers understand the impact of COVID-19 on your store and what to expect for their shopping experience. Download these signs from CFIB to customize for your own business: Temporary Closure Notice, Safety Notice to Visitors

3) Pre-pack bulk goods such as fresh produce wherever possible to minimize touch. Stop offering samples unless they are pre-packaged.

4) Encourage Social Distance In Store by increasing the space in the checkout area between cashiers and where shoppers are waiting to pay. It’s as simple as adding tape on the floor to clearly show where shoppers need to stand as Walmart has done. Costco has famously used pallets to enforce social distance requirements in an orderly fashion.

Walmart Canada, Peter J. Thompson/National Post
Costco Canada entrance, Toronto, Canada

5) Merchandise for fast retail as most shoppers will be shopping for necessity versus discovery. Keeping in mind the social distance required for safety, you will want to consider moving fast-moving goods in an easier to access location.

6) Put up transparent barriers wherever possible to minimize transmission while protecting staff.

Colemans Foods, Newfoundland, Canada

7) Encourage “Contactless” Payments (e.g. tap or Apple Pay) and discourage the use of cash to protect your staff wherever possible. You may even want to increase your “contactless” limit with your merchant processor but remember that you are liable for any potential chargebacks on “contactless” payments.

8) If you are an essential business that is still sourcing, pay special attention to your supply chain. Anything sourced from areas dealing with a surge in COVID-19 cases will need alternatives in place. If necessary, even look at your suppliers’ suppliers for critical products.

9) Minimize Any Processes that Require Touch such as loyalty programs that require a tablet or credit card terminals that require optional prompts. Print out a QR code or signage for your web site and encourage users to sign up on their own phones.

10) Review Receipt Management Procedures to train staff to put receipts directly into shopping bags instead of handing them to customers or, even better, ask if they are ok to receive their receipts by email. Remember that privacy regulations require that you get positive customer consent to save their emails for future use so use an integrated email marketing tool to capture consent that will allow customers to unsubscribe themselves.

11) Sell In Store Gift Cards with an Incentive (e.g. extra $15 for every $100 gift card) to encourage shoppers to come back to the store when things are back to normal.

12) Offer Free Pens to shoppers who don’t have their own. It’s a cost-effective gift that discourages the use of public pens and helps customers remember you. Remember to minimize touch when offering them.

13) Communicate Proper Treatment Procedures when staff are sick. Make sure all managers and staff know what to do when they are sick. There is a lot of information out there – be sure to refer to the most credible medical sources in your country. In Canada, that will mean the public health authorities for your province or territory. In the US, the CDC is a reliable authority for guidance. For further details, you can also review the steps to prepare worksplaces for COVID-19 published by the WHO.

14) Minimize the Number of Shoppers In-Store to protect your own employees and make sure that shoppers are both comfortable and safe while in your store.

15) Encourage or Support Donations of Essential Supplies to local hospitals to protect frontline healthcare workers where supplies are short. This is one of the local PPE (personal protective equipment) drives for the Toronto GTA area.

16) Limit Stock Quantities for any essential household and medical products to avoid stock outs. #WeAreAllInThisTogether


For more information regarding government grants and relief programs, click here.

How to Improve the Retail Checkout Process

How to Improve the Retail Checkout Process

Let’s face it, no-one likes long line-ups. In fact, a slow checkout process is almost guaranteed to result in frustrated shoppers, poor customer satisfaction, and a whole lot of lost sales in the process. 

So, while the brick-and-mortar checkout experience has long since evolved from the standard cash register, shopper expectations have also risen along with it. Used to the convenience that e-commerce provides, today’s retail shoppers expect a similarly fast and easy checkout experience.

That’s why we’ve put together the following tips to help you speed up your in-store checkout. Keep reading to find out how you can provide a frictionless experience that will keep your shoppers smiling while you ring in more sales! 

1) Accept different payment methods 

Nowadays, shoppers pay with a lot more than just cash or card. That’s why accommodating different payment methods can go a long way in reducing lineups and speeding up the checkout process. In fact, the more payment options you accommodate, the easier it is for shoppers to check out efficiently. 

To speed up your checkout process, consider enabling the payment types below. 

  1. Contactless Payments: Contactless payments are a faster alternative to chip and pin transactions. In fact, tap-and-pay technology has been adopted by many major credit card companies – becoming a popular payment option for in-store shoppers. 
  2. Mobile Payments: According to a survey done by Blackhawk Network, three out of five U.S. smartphone users have a mobile wallet. While this is a large chunk of consumers, enabling mobile pay can also help retailers capture sales when shoppers leave their wallets at home. 

Expert Tip! Check your processing contract to see if you are liable for any chargebacks on contactless payments. While the increase in speed may still be worth the risk of possible chargebacks, you will want to minimize your exposure by encouraging the use of digital wallets (Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.) which have secondary authentication. You can also consider having CCTV coverage in your checkout area to deter would-be fraudulent shoppers.

retail checkout

2) Offer a buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS) option

Convenience continues to play a significant role on the customer’s path to purchase. And notably, checkout is considered to be the part of the shopping experience where convenience is most valued. In fact, 40% of in-store shoppers state that check-out is when convenience is most important to them

And what better way to provide immediate shopper convenience than a BOPIS option? After all, a great deal of retail continues to happen in nearby physical stores as shoppers are looking for something for immediate usage and they can’t wait for delivery. BOPIS solves several problems that have increasingly discouraged today’s customers from shopping in-store by:

  1. Optimizing the customer experience by ensuring that shoppers are never disappointed (e.g. products are out of stock) when they get to the store.
  2. Saving shoppers time when they are in the store – everything is already ready for pick-up. Retailers can streamline the process even further by dedicating certain checkout lines and POS stations to BOPIS shoppers. Don’t forget to merchandise around these areas with high-margin “snackable” products to capture any last minute impulse purchases!

According to an article by the Business Insider, almost 70% of US consumers use BOPIS. Buy online pick-up in-store options significantly increase checkout speed because all shoppers have to do is come to the store and pick up their orders. In some cases, 50% of shoppers state that they decide where to buy based on whether they can pick up their orders in-store.

At the same time, BOPIS also boosts sales and profitability for merchants by improving cashflow with prepaid orders, encouraging more impulse buys in-store, reducing overall delivery costs and minimizing returns compared to e-commerce.

It’s important to remember that BOPIS is most effective when used with a retail POS that can handle “unified commerce” as real-time stock levels are key to product availability. Unified commerce is just another way of saying a total retail management platform that offers a single view of inventory, sales, and customer data across an entire business in real time. As expected, the need for real-time data grows as sales volume and transaction complexity increases.

buy online pick up in-store

3) Upgrade to a line-busting POS

Perhaps the most important decision you can make to speed up your checkout process is to choose the right POS system. With so many different options out there on the market, it’s best to choose a POS that is designed for checkout speed. Particularly, look out for the following features in your POS software:

  • Cross-platform capabilities that let you turn any device into a station. You’ll want to ensure that your POS is mobile-friendly and that it can be run from any device. This will allow you to ring in sales from anywhere in your store when lineups get too long. Which means you can speed up the checkout process for your shoppers based on real-time demand.
  • Easy to navigate salescreen. Look for a POS software that is user friendly and designed for minimum clicks. Ideally, cashiers shouldn’t have to leave the salescreen in order to complete a transaction. 
  • Fast barcode scanning. To ensure a fast checkout process, it’s necessary to choose a POS system that is designed for fast scanning speed. It’s also important that your POS software can handle multiple barcodes per SKU.
  • Advanced inventory search. In addition to the features mentioned above, your retail POS needs to have smart search functions and the ability to quickly recall your last search. This will give you and your employees the ability to search products by keyword, description, or tag in case labels fall off or barcodes are not scannable.
line busting retail POS

4) Train your staff effectively

Having the right POS technology and hardware in place is not enough. Retailers need to consider the people who are actually operating the technology a.k.a their sales associates!

Staff are a crucial part of checkout optimization. Which is why store owners must devote the time and resources to adequately train them. To make things easier, think about adopting a POS system with built-in training tools. This will boost employee productivity and encourage self-service while significantly reducing training costs and time.

training retail staff

5) Email Receipts

While digital receipts are environmentally friendly, they’re also useful in cutting checkout lines. For one, shoppers won’t have to wait for their receipt to print out. And your employees won’t have to waste time refilling the receipt printer – risking the chance of aggravating customers who are already waiting in line.

In addition to streamlining the checkout process, digital receipts also come with significant business benefits, including:

  • Giving retailers an easier way to build email lists and gather customer data
  • Helping reduce fraudulent returns 
  • Decreasing overhead costs by eliminating printed receipts
  • Driving future interaction when you include links to the store website and social media
  • Allowing retailers to include personalized marketing message on receipts boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty

Expert Tip! Privacy is an increasingly important customer expectation. If you are collecting email lists, make sure that your POS system gives you the ability to legally collect consent for marketing directly from your customers.

email receipts

We hope you found this article helpful!

Join our beta waitlist here. In the meantime, you can subscribe to our blog for more helpful retail tips and strategies!

Valentine’s Day Retail Tips

Valentine’s Day Retail Tips

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! Which means that it’s time for retailers to spread the love.  

This year, shoppers are planning on spending an average of $196.31 on their loved ones. And with 55% of consumers expected to celebrate, total spending is estimated to reach a historical record of $27.4 billion

The best part is, you don’t have to be in the chocolate or gift industry to win the hearts of consumers! Keep reading to find out how you can take advantage of the record spending expected this Valentine’s day. 

3 Ways to Increase Store Sales this Valentine’s Day 

1. Add a Valentine’s Day section to your store and website

Valentine’s Day is infamous for being a last minute holiday. So, to make it easier for last minute gift buyers and shoppers, place all of your Valentine’s Day related merchandise in one section of your retail store and website.

If you own a physical retail store, dedicate a corner of your store to Valentine’s day so busy shoppers can grab and go. Consider creating a vibrant point of purchase display with Valentine’s Day colours (see the example below). Making use of signage to guide shoppers towards deals and merchandise will also help make the shopping experience more convenient. 

valentines day retail merchandising

With more and more shoppers browsing online before purchasing in-store, it’s also good practice to dedicate a section of your website to Valentine’s Day – regardless of whether or not you sell online.

Have a look at what Mejuri is doing for Valentine’s Day below. The retailer devoted a whole page on their website to Valentine’s day and even created a gift guide for shoppers. 

2. Create a retargeting strategy

Selling to existing shoppers is easier and more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. So, consider retargeting shoppers who have made purchases at your retail store during the holiday season.

To target these shoppers, you can create an email campaign to inform them of your upcoming Valentine’s Day promotions. It’s also a good idea to create a Valentine’s Day gift guide to include in your email campaign. 

In addition to email, running Facebook Retargeting Ads is an effective way to connect with shoppers. Facebook even gives merchants the option of uploading an email list when running retargeting ads. 

You don’t need a crazy budget either – retargeting ads generally perform well with a small budget of $10- $15 a day. 

valentine's day retargeting ads

3) Find a Valentine’s Day angle

Not in the chocolate or jewellery industry? That’s ok – you don’t have to sell Valentine’s Day related items to capitalize on the holiday. 

You can always find a unique angle to sell your merchandise. For example, Apple found a brilliant way to position their products for Valentine’s Day, using the slogan “Love is in the Air” to promote the iPad Air. 

And remember – about half of consumers will not be celebrating the holiday. Rather than alienating this customer segment, cater your marketing message to single people by encouraging shoppers to treat themselves. 

For example, Mac is a retailer that recognizes the power of self-love as a marketing tool. In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, the retailer sent out an email campaign encouraging shoppers to treat themselves for the holiday. 


Happy Valentine’s Day retailers! And happy selling! 

Join our beta waitlist here and in the meantime, sign up for our blog updates for more retail tips. 

#valentinesdayretail #sellmore #increaseretailsales #builtforretail #cloudpos #retailpos

Retail Loss Prevention Tips

Retail Loss Prevention Tips

Inventory shrinkage (loss of inventory due to employee theft, shoplifting, vendor fraud etc.) continues to be a serious issue for retailers – both large and small.

In fact, according to the 2019 National Security Survey, industry-wide shrinkage was estimated to be $50.6 billion. Thus highlighting the importance of having a loss prevention plan. 

So, to help you establish a plan of your own, we’ve put together some tried and tested tips and strategies. Check them out below! 

What is retail loss prevention? 

The loss associated with shrink is two-fold; you’re losing your initial investment in the merchandise itself as well as the revenue that the product could have generated with sales. This doesn’t even include reduced customer satisfaction due to stock-outs. 

Which is why store owners should consider retail loss prevention to be a priority. Loss prevention can be defined as a set of best practices that a retailer should follow to prevent product and profit loss. 

In order to better understand how to prevent product loss, you must understand what causes it and how those losses occur. 

According to the NRF National Security Survey, the main causes of inventory shrinkage include: 

  • Shoplifting/external theft (35.7%)
  • Employee/internal theft (33.2%)
  • Administrative or paperwork error (18.8%)
  • Vendor fraud/error (5.8%)
  • Unknown loss (6.6%)

Retail loss prevention tips

1) Merchandising 

As outlined above, the number one cause of inventory shrinkage is shoplifting. Shoplifting can take many forms, whether it’s an individual acting alone and stealing one or two items or it’s a serious case of organized retail crime where thousands of dollars worth of merchandise is stolen. 

merchandising in retail loss prevention

Whatever the case may be, it’s important to take necessary precautions so you can lessen the chances of shoplifting taking place in your retail store. 

The following are some merchandising best practices that can help deter physical theft: 

Merchandising best practices

a) Use effective signage: Make it clear to potential thieves that your store is being monitored. Hang signs around your store warning shoppers that they are under surveillance. Or alternatively, you can use signage to remind them of the consequences of committing theft.

b) Cameras: It’s good practice to place cameras by POS terminals, the entrance/exit to your store, and by any loading/delivery areas. To beef up your security even more, you can also consider hiring security staff. 

c) Mirrors: Smaller retailers may not have the resources to install cameras in every corner of their store or have their employees constantly monitor the aisles. For theses retailers, mirrors are a cost effective option to make a significant impact when it comes to loss prevention. Placing mirrors in key areas and corners of your retail space will allow one or two employees to easily monitor the whole store. It also helps your store look more spacious. 

d) Revise your store layout: Thieves are less likely to act when they are in plain sight of store employees. This is why it’s a good idea to organize your store layout so that employees have maximum visibility – avoid tall shelves and clustering product displays together. Also, consider placing valuable merchandise closer to staff or in locked displays. 

e) Keep your store organized: An organized store is key to deterring theft as well as encouraging shoppers to buy. Keeping your store organized will also make it easier for staff to identify missing product. On the other hand, a disorganized store makes it easier for thieves to operate and can even play a part in attracting them. 

2) Use RFID technology

A radio frequency identification system (RFID) is an advanced technology system used by larger retailers to improve inventory management and protect against shrinkage. It is particularly effective against internal theft and administrative errors as RFID tags are harder to manipulate.

RFID chips contain inventory information and are embedded in product tags or packages. This then lets store owners track product information in real-time. They are especially useful for retailers who are omnichannel as RFID provides item level visibility so you can track merchandise from distribution to sale.

While RFID technology has traditionally been too expensive for small retailers, the cost continues to fall as more and more retailers are using them. In some cases, the cost has fallen below $0.05 per tag. While this may still be too high (especially when you add the labor cost of applying tags), depending on your volume (which may allow you to request your supplier to apply them) or the value of your products, it may still be more cost-effective than any losses you would incur as a result of shoplifting.

To learn more about RFID technology, click here

RFID technology for loss prevention

3) Use a POS system with strong user permissions

Many POS systems give retailers the ability to create different staff accounts and set user permissions. These permissions allow store owners and managers to restrict staff members from accessing certain features in the POS system. Put simply, user permissions are ways for business owners to limit employees from performing tasks outside of their job description and to prevent internal theft. 

It’s a good idea to invest in a POS system with strong user permissions and access rights as it can go a long way in preventing shrink.

Depending on the size of your business, you will want to be able to customize the type of rights different employees have access to. If you have a lot of staff or have turnover due to seasonality, you’ll want to look for POS systems that allow you to easily group employees by different customizable roles. In this way, you can easily set the access rights for a role (e.g. cashier) and then simply assign any employee to this role without having to manually set up the rights for each person.

Use a retail POS with user permissions

4) Manage refunds and returns

Fraudulent returns (returning used, stolen, exchanged merchandise or returning merchandise with counterfeit receipts/money) happen frequently in retail. And while return fraud is harder to assess than shoplifting, a strict return policy can help prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Here are a few tips for developing a practical return and exchange policy that minimizes the risk of internal and external theft:

  • Require the original receipt for all returns and make sure the store’s return policy is printed clearly on all receipts. Most POS systems will allow you to customize receipts to include important important information such as store policy, contact info, and social media. 
  • Make sure employees are strict about enforcing the store return policy. Consider placing a written version close to your checkout tills. It’s also a good idea to have employees remind shoppers of the policy at checkout.
  • Require customer ID to process refunds and exchanges and train staff to spot fraudulent returns.
  • Consider offering refunds only in the payment method used to make the purchase. While there is a processing cost to allowing refunds on credit cards, it is a lot easier for savvy users to process fake returns if it is possible for them to refund using cash. After all, it’s as simple as reprinting a receipt, processing a return and pocketing the cash themselves.
  • Look for a POS system that gives you the option to accept returns with a separate return screen that forces users to associate a refund to past invoices.
have a strict return policy

We hope you found this article helpful. 

If you are a Toronto retailer, you can download the following whitepaper for emergency situations.  

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