Loss Prevention Strategies

How Plant-Based Products affect Expired Loss

How Plant-Based Products affect Expired Loss 720 480 Andrew Hoeft

With every new grocery trend comes a necessary round of conversations:

“Who will our distributors be?”

“How are we going to market this product category?”

“Where should it be merchandised in our stores?”

There’s one question that is usually left out of these conversations, but could have the largest impact on your bottom line:

“How will this new product category affect our expired loss?”

Through our conversations with grocers, we’ve seen this question missed time and again, and, as your resident expiration date management experts, it’s our job to make you consider every aspect of your inventory’s expiration potential.

The latest category to fall prey to this oversight is plant-based products. Since they joined the mainstream food scene, they’ve exploded, entering nearly every category from the meat counter to the dairy aisle. Grocers like you are jumping at the chance to stock these products – they’ve seen the data, and they know carrying plant-based products will help their bottom line. 

Just to give you a taste of the trend: “Sales were up 31.3% overall between 2017 and 2019, to a grand total of nearly $4.5 billion in revenue,” according to the Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association.

However, like every new product category, plant-based products will have some effect on your expired loss metrics – both positive and negative.

How plant-based products affect expired loss

First, the good news: plant-based foods simply don’t pose as much of a risk to shoppers past their expiration date because they are not made from animal products. For this reason, they have longer shelf lives in your store.

Now, here’s where it gets complicated. Longer shelf life does not necessarily mean you’ll have better expired loss stats.

With any new category, including plant-based products, you’re still establishing a customer base. Even though sales are rising, and plant-based products are quickly becoming a must-have for grocers, there is still education that needs to take place to get shoppers on board.

If the products that you stock don’t move as quickly as you’d anticipated, and you aren’t keeping track of your expiration dates proactively, you may end up with expired plant-based products on your shelves. And your expired loss numbers will go up, up, up…

Tips to mitigate risk of expired loss

There are a few key best practices to avoid this issue with any new category:

  • Carefully track your plant-based product movement metrics in order to make accurate inventory purchases in the future. Start small, and gauge your shoppers’ interest in the category before wasting funds on large orders that may expire before they can be purchased.
  • Educate your customers on food safety practices for plant-based products. What does a plant-based product smell like, look like, taste like if it’s out of date? Storing plant-based products effectively is another topic that you may want to cover.
  • Proactively track your expiration dates so that you can mark down close dated items before they expire and help move them. There are many forms of expiration date management, but a technology-focused process that notifies you when an item in your inventory is about to expire is the best way to avoid not only a shopper coming into contact with an expired item, but an increase in your store’s expired loss.

How to Train Employees to Be Loss Prevention Advocates

How to Train Employees to Be Loss Prevention Advocates 720 480 Andrew Hoeft

Loss prevention is a constant source of worry in the retail space – and therefore an incredible place to
innovate. The strategies that have long been associated with this department have grown a bit stagnant,
and it’s high time that grocers took a good hard look at their loss prevention mindset.

One strategy that we have seen work in the grocery space is training employees to be loss prevention
advocates. Instead of drilling mindless processes and fear tactics into employees in order to get them to
prevent theft and fraud, companies should place trust and responsibility in their employees to see real
results – and a happier team.

How to Train Employees to Be Loss Prevention Advocates

There are a few quick concepts that you can integrate into your traditional corporate training and
continuing education in order to turn employees into loss prevention advocates.

Teach employees to talk to people like they’re people

Sounds obvious, but the way that we teach employees to interact with customers (if we do at all) tends
to be very corporate and canned. In a way, it makes sense – we don’t want to put our businesses in
harm by letting employees respond in any way that they see fit – but, if we give our team the correct
resources and trust, we can create a culture of loss prevention advocates.

You see, loss prevention can be accomplished if customers feel that they like and trust your employees.
When employees speak to them in a way that is human and helpful, they create a connection with your
customers that will deter those with sticky fingers from following through with their intended action. No
need for forced language or uncomfortable procedures if your employees build a relationship with your
customers.

Explain the “why” behind your strategies

Employees need to buy into your loss prevention goals and strategies in order for them to work. For the
best results from this perspective, you need to make them feel purposeful. Explain why certain loss
prevention tactics work and others don’t, how small changes to their routine in your store could have a
major impact on LP, and how a comprehensive loss prevention plan can actually give your customers a
better experience. If you can tie a “why” to each of their responsibilities, you’ll find that there will be
less resistance to your LP strategies.

Discuss dollars and KPIs

Adding on to the previous point, employees like to feel like they’re a part of the larger company goal
and mission. They want to feel like the work they’re doing every day matters. Once you’ve explained the
“why” behind their responsibilities, get into the cold hard facts.

“We lose $XS,XXX dollars per month to loss. When we are completing every step of our loss prevention
plan, that number decreases to $X,XXX.”

“Our goal is to reduce theft by XX% in Q2. Here are the steps that our team is taking to make that
happen.”

Keep track of those KPIs in your team break room, and reward team members who become loss
prevention advocates and make a significant impact on your goals.

Reframe loss prevention as asset protection

Finally, do away with the phrase “loss prevention” all together. If you really want your team to get on
board, spinning this set of responsibilities in a positive light (protecting your store instead of preventing
something bad from happening) will take the fear and pressure out of it for your employees.

Why You Need to Update Your Loss Prevention Strategy for 2020

Why You Need to Update Your Loss Prevention Strategy for 2020 720 480 Andrew Hoeft

What comes to mind when you think of loss prevention?

Is it fraud? Customer or employee theft? Damaged product?

Grocery has been treating loss prevention the same way for decades, focusing on the negative aspects of business that result in, well, loss. We teach our employees how to identify potential threats, how to prevent customers from leaving the store with products they haven’t purchased, and the protocols that they can take while remaining compliant with the laws on shoplifting. We outfit our stores with CCTV to better identify customer and employee theft, and we work with our vendors to reduce damaged product losses.

However, there is more to running a healthy business than this traditional idea of loss prevention. In 2020, loss prevention is getting a new mindset and a new moniker: asset protection.

 

From Loss Prevention to Asset Protection

We’re not calling it loss prevention anymore – the modern grocer is focused on asset protection.

Loss prevention tends to have too narrow of a focus on theft and damaged product. It limits our thinking on what is truly causing our stores to experience a loss on our bottom line.

When we reconsider this phrase and think of it instead as asset protection, we begin to think more holistically about how to control shrink in our stores and improve our company culture around it.

 

Changing Employee Culture

For your employees, this simple turn of phrase can make all the difference. When they’re working under the umbrella of loss prevention, they can become suspicious of customers, worried about being the one who drops the ball on a theft, and anxious about the responsibility of preventing loss.

However, by reframing these tasks as part of asset protection, you’re enabling employees instead of putting pressure on them. They see themselves as proactive protectors instead of reactive heroes who catch the thief, detect the fraud, and save the day.

In 2020, when employee satisfaction could dictate the future of your business, this subtle repositioning of a traditional grocery department could be the difference maker.

 

Expiration Date Management

So asset protection sounds better than loss prevention and it takes the pressure off your employees, but what does it actually mean? What can your employees do to bring the concept of asset protection to life?

One suggestion is expiration date management. True, you probably already have some sort of rotation or spot checking system in place in your store, but the key to asset protection is remaining proactive before loss can occur.

Expiration date management is the simplest thing that you could be doing right now to protect your assets. Using an expiration date management software makes the process seamless, because it provides you with alerts when products are about to expire so that you can take action on them and avoid loss. 

In 2020, consider changing the name of your loss prevention department to your asset protection department. Through this simple switch, and a few new processes, you will not only enable your employees, but also provide a larger incentive to proactively protect the products in your store and decrease loss on your bottom line.

How Personalization Data Will Help You Decrease Shrink

How Personalization Data Will Help You Decrease Shrink 720 480 Andrew Hoeft

Reducing shrink in a grocery store can seem like an almost impossible task. While the retail industry in general is plagued with loss prevention woes, grocery can be even more difficult to monitor simply because of the nature of its products. Customers can eat products before purchasing them and items can even go bad on the shelves.

That’s not an issue for other types of retailers.

Grocers need to use every tool in their arsenal in order to combat shrink in their grocery store, including technology that allows them to collect data in order to make better purchasing and rotation decisions.

A great portion of shrink in grocery stores could be reduced if grocers accurately used personalization data to order precisely the right amount of stock, instead of overbuying items that are historically slow-moving and likely to become expired shrink. 

 

How to Collect Personalization Data

Grocers have many options at their disposal when it comes to collecting the personalization data that they need in order to combat expired shrink. Though the industry is notoriously slow to adopt new technology, installing a new software solution isn’t the only way to keep track of what your customers are buying frequently and which items tend to sit on the shelves. Here are a few ways that grocers can collect personalization data:

 

Loyalty programs

Many grocery stores already have loyalty programs in place. These purchase- and point-tracking systems make it easy for grocers to reward their customers with special perks once they’ve hit a certain purchasing threshold. However, they are drastically underused for other purposes, including the collection of personalization data.

Loyalty programs are already tracking how much a customer purchases, and what they are purchasing on a regular basis, but how much of that data is being translated into corporate buying decisions? If grocers are already inadvertently collecting this data, couldn’t it be put to good use in stocking your shelves with the products that your most loyal customers actually want?

 

E-commerce history

E-commerce purchasing history could be valuable to grocers in the same way that loyalty programs are when it comes to collecting personalization data. E-commerce platforms tend to be a bit more sophisticated, so not only will you be able to see data on what items are purchased most frequently, but also which products are searched for regularly, which are added to the cart and then abandoned, and what times of year products are fast-moving or slow-moving. 

You have all of this data at your fingertips as a grocer. It’s time to start using it to help you make better purchasing decisions and reduce expired shrink before it ever even occurs.

 

In-person interaction

Finally, for the good old-fashioned grocer, in-person interaction can be a keystone of your personalization data collection strategy.

Your store associates and managers speak with customers on a daily basis, answering questions and building relationships, but did you know that they’re an integral part of personalization data collection? 

The interactions between your store staff and your customers contain information that can help you do your job better and reduce expired shrink in your store.

What are your customers asking you for repeatedly? Is there a new item that’s become a consistent part of your staff’s conversations? Keep track of this information and take it into account when you’re making purchasing decisions.

Is one extremely loyal customer making requests? It might make sense to bring in a small quantity of the item they’re looking for in order to build a stronger connection with them and discover a potential new winner for your store.

 

How to Use Personalization Data to Reduce Shrink

Now that you’ve started using your loyalty programs, e-commerce purchasing history, and in-store interactions with guests in order to collect personalization data, you’re probably wondering what to do with all of this information.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the possibilities that data represents, but there are a few quick ways that you can use this data to create a positive impact in your store and reduce expired shrink.

First, find out which items customers aren’t buying very frequently and compare those to items that are frequently out of stock, but are popular with customers. These are your slow-moving vs. fast-moving products.

Your fast-moving products represent the items that you should be buying more of. Your customers are clearly exhibiting a high demand for these items, and frequent out of stocks are costing you valuable revenue.

Your slow-moving products represent the items that you should be buying less of, and even eliminating from your purchasing habits altogether. Use personalization data to stop purchasing items that aren’t showing up in your customer profiles regularly, as these items are easy culprits for expired shrink.

Then, use the data that you’ve collected, and the systems that you already have in place, to send hyper-specific offers and extreme discounts to your customers on items that are about to expire so that they don’t become expired shrink. Close-dated items are still viable for customers, but you want them off your shelves before they become a liability. Sending notifications to customers who regularly buy items that tend to expire on the shelf is a clever way to use personalization data to drive conversion to slow-moving items.

Using an expiration date management software could make this entire process simpler for you as a grocer. Collecting personalization data is an important aspect of your business, but keeping it organized in a way that makes it useful to your store is another challenge that you’ll have to tackle. While your e-commerce platform or loyalty program may be sophisticated enough to provide you with a dashboard that gives you personalization information, it’s likely not comprehensive.

If you use an expiration date management software, all of this information can be found in one, easy-to-access place. Your Date Check Pro dashboard not only sends you notifications when an item is close-dated or expired on your shelves, it also tracks which items are costing you the most money when they expire, and which items are slow-moving enough to be expired shrink risks for your store. 

Personalization data is discussed at length in the retail industry, for marketing purposes and for product development. However, in the grocery sector specifically, this information can be used to reduce expired shrink in your stores and put you on the right track toward achieving more optimal loss prevention results.

How Community Clout Can Be Used as a Loss Prevention Tool

How Community Clout Can Be Used as a Loss Prevention Tool 720 480 Andrew Hoeft

When you think of loss prevention, you think of the obvious operational strategies against shoplifting, fraud, employee theft, and administrative errors. It’s likely that, as a retailer, you have many systems in place to stay informed about loss in your store, and to act when you’re alerted to an attempted theft.

However, hard touch loss prevention strategies only deal with shrink when it’s already on your doorstep, when a potential thief or an aggravated employee is already considering stealing from your store.

What if you could take a softer approach, one that makes it so that taking advantage of your store never even crosses someone’s mind? That’s what cultivating community clout can do for your business.

 

How community clout can be used as a loss prevention tool

Community clout is the amount of goodwill and positive notoriety that you maintain within your neighborhood and its inhabitants. It signifies your reputation with your customers and with your employees. The more you have, the more respected you are as a business and a community member.

Through the implementation of community-focused initiatives and relationship-building, you can garner the kind of community clout that does more than give your brand a good name – it can be used as a loss prevention tool.

Let’s face it: traditional loss prevention tools fall flat without the added benefit of community clout. If your business is not well-known in the community, or, even worse, has a bad reputation amongst your employees and customers, you won’t be able to organize your company around any loss prevention strategy. Your employees won’t respect you, and your customers won’t hold the kind of trust or loyalty that keeps them from acting against your business.

 

Download our eBook, “What does it mean to be a Community Grocer in 2020” for more ideas on how to build a great reputation in your community.

 

It’s true that building a genuine connection between your brand and your customers builds trust and loyalty. By encouraging your staff to get to know your customers on a deeper level than their transaction, you are laying the groundwork for authentic relationships, the kind where your employees can greet a customer by name when they enter your store. Not only are you positioning yourself as a friendly, neighborhood grocer, you’re also reminding your customers that you’re more than just a faceless organization. When your customers get to know your employees, and subsequently you and your brand, it will be more difficult for them to take advantage of your store without a guilty conscience.

In an article in Psychology Today, Sheila Kohler puts it this way, “It is easier to steal from an anonymous, large organization, than from an individual, easier to steal from someone who seems well-endowed, has so much more.”

This soft touch strategy benefits you two-fold when it comes to your customers, giving you a great reputation and diminishing thoughts of theft, but what about your employees? How does your community clout encourage them to uphold your loss prevention standards?

If you have an enviable amount of community clout, it’s likely that your employees are proud to work for your store. You have a great name in the neighborhood, and they’re happy to attach theirs to yours. If you keep your employees engaged, and compensated fairly, they’ll be more motivated to do a good job at work.

Research backs up this correlation between employee happiness and better work. A study by economists at the University of Warwick showed that productivity increased by 12% in companies that had happy employees. This productivity, in turn, will be translated into more profits for your store, but also a general commitment by your employees to do their jobs well, which includes ensuring that loss prevention strategies are being followed meticulously.

 

How to garner community clout

Now that you know how important it is to cultivate community clout for your stores, you’re probably wondering: how exactly do I go about getting it? We have a handful of tips to get you started.

 

Personalization

Personalization is essential to building community clout, as it shows your customers, the people who are really your neighbors, friends, and family, that you know them and are focused on serving their specific needs. This idea can come to fruition through a multitude of tactics, from digital personalization like targeted offers in a mobile app and relevant advertising on social media to the most basic form of personalization, simply greeting a customer by name and having an authentic conversation. When your community feels like you know them as much as they know you, they’re less likely to become a threat to your loss prevention strategy.

 

Free eBook: Fundamental Loss Prevention Tactics

 

Relationship building

Similar to, but not quite the same as, personalization, relationship building reflects a deeper level of understanding between your employees and your customers. Training your employees to spark authentic conversations with customers and endeavor to actually get to know them is a great place to start. As members of the community themselves, it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to find things that they have in common with your clientele.

This goes for upper management in relation to your entry-level employees as well. The more that you are able to build trusting relationships between every person who works for, and shops at your store, the less likely you’ll have to deal with a shrink crisis.

 

Community initiatives

What better way to make yourself a staple within the community than by leading a few events and initiatives to help the people within it? Grocers across the country are coming up with innovative ideas to engage their community, from health-focused run/walks to community giving days where a portion of total sales goes to supporting local organizations. If you establish that you’re not only a part of the community, but a major supporter of its people, respect for your brand will come naturally.

 

Becoming an active and supportive member of your community is not only good for your brand, it’s good for your business. Cultivating community clout by intentionally encouraging staff to connect with your customers and by creating an engaging environment for your employees can act as a loss prevention tool. If you add this soft touch strategy to your arsenal, it’s possible that you’ll see a dramatic improvement in your shrink metrics, and in the way that your store is seen in your community.

 

Click the image below to download our latest free eBook, which is full of ideas for generating goodwill in your community, and boosting your local brand recognition.

What Does it Mean to be a Community Grocer in 2020?

Expired Shrink Prevention Strategies for Community Grocers

3 Expired Shrink Prevention Strategies that Can Help Your Community

3 Expired Shrink Prevention Strategies that Can Help Your Community 720 480 Andrew Hoeft

Many retail operations are created with the business in mind. We have implemented procedures in order to make our stores run more efficiently, and in a more cost-effective manner. When we originally put together those processes, we were considering how the business would be affected by the results.

That mindset is being flipped on its head as we get closer to 2020. The focus of supermarkets across the country needs to shift, placing the spotlight on our customers instead of our internal workings.

read more

How 2019 Diet Trends Impact Expired Shrink

How 2019 Diet Trends Impact Expired Shrink 720 480 Andrew Hoeft

“What’s for dinner?”

What has always been a question fraught with an overwhelming number of answers has become even more mind-boggling over the past few decades as Americans have adjusted their meals to fit dietary molds. The idea of “dieting” first became mainstream after World War II, when charts emerged that proclaimed there were ideal weights for individuals depending on their heights.

read more

Comparing Top Markdown Methods for Short Dated Inventory

Comparing Top Markdown Methods for Short Dated Inventory 3264 2448 Andrew Hoeft

When it comes to choosing how a store, or even if, a store should markdown products expiring soon, there are many options to choose from and factors to consider. Are your shoppers drawn by big savings, or is the focus more on an upscale shopping experience? How much product will need to be marked down in any given week? Will you use the same strategy across all departments, or vary it based on storage requirements? Just to name few. read more

Save Some Dough – Reducing Dairy Dough Shrink

Save Some Dough – Reducing Dairy Dough Shrink 2430 2949 Cody Sheehy

Have you ever walked into your dairy cooler and found a bunch of expired doughs among everything that had been pulled for the day?  This section of the store can generate shrink for a few different reasons, and we are going to walk through some of the tips and tricks of what to watch for and how to combat higher loss in this area. read more

Identifying Top Expired Grocery & Dairy Categories

Identifying Top Expired Grocery & Dairy Categories 640 426 Andrew Hoeft

Expired products spring up in every corner of a grocery store. Yet, there are key areas with a higher than usual density. These hot spots must remain top of mind to ensure a quality and fresh shopping experience. And while many of the influencing factors remain outside of a stores control – such as seasonality and declining category sales – how a store learns from these losses and improves management is paramount. read more