Please enable javascript, or click here to visit my ecommerce web site powered by Shopify.

Can Mystery Shoppers Help Reduce Shoplifting?

By now, we all know what a great help mystery shopping can be to help you do better business, from customer service to merchandising. But have you ever considered hiring mystery shoppers to help you to reduce shoplifting?

Now, this isn’t to suggest you hire mystery shoppers to stage a theft from your store. That would be unconventional to say the least, and something most shoppers likely wouldn’t be comfortable with in the first place!

Patricia Maynor, of the Post Exchange's loss prevention office, scans the store Sept. 16 from an electronic video surveillance room. This is a good way to prevent shoplifting.No, what I’m suggesting is that you bring shoppers in to check out how your store is doing with its security practices. Mystery shoppers can help you point out holes and flaws in the measures you’re taking, so you can tighten them up after the fact and reduce shoplifting and to ensure less loss in your stores.

I’ve seen a lot throughout my years in retail buying, and I can say for sure that mystery shoppers are one of the best ways to check how employees are doing with the security measures you already have in place.

  • Do they ignore customers when they walk in or are they sure to let people know they’ve been noticed — and therefore monitored?
  • Do they make eye contact?
  • If you have a bag check, is it being enforced as customers come in the door to your store?
  • If a customer ducks into an area where the cashier can’t see them, does someone go to check on them?
  • Are they closely monitoring sale areas as well as video recordings of the store’s goings-on?

These are just a few of the things you can have them looking for.

Different thieves have different methods and times they prefer to “hit” stores, and your store should be prepared in as many instances as possible. Consider bringing shoppers in around opening and closing, times when stores are most vulnerable to theft, and at varying levels of traffic in your store.

There’s a good chance that you have higher priorities for mystery shoppers’ than to reduce shoplifting and other loss prevention, but it’s definitely something to consider as part of a full-featured check of your store’s operations — especially if you’ve had a problem with theft in your store in the past.


Photo credit: Vince Little, US Army (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)