The heat of summer is prime time for a busy sales season for flea, fair, and festival sellers. Making the most out of sales means selling larger volumes, but also preventing losses. According to the National Retail Federation, shrink, or inventory that is lost or unaccounted for, costs sellers billions each year. That’s a huge difference for your bottom line.
In order to prevent shrinkage, we first need to understand why it happens. There are three main causes: shoplifting, employee theft, and administrative error. Customer theft accounts for $10 billion in shrinkage annually. For flea vendors, its likely customer theft is your largest culprit. If you do have employees, make sure they are people you can trust. Also be sure to divide responsibilities between everyone equally to prevent errors and opportunities for stealing.
Aware and alert booth staff is the best protection from shoplifting. Make sure everyone working with you knows the prices of each item so shoppers can’t get away with switching price tags. Train your employees to be watchful and aware at all times. Especially when the market is busy, it’s easy to just help the current customer and let another browse your booth unwatched. If this is a pattern, seriously consider getting more friends, family, or employees to help at your booth. Also make sure there are no “blind spots” or areas or situations in which you can’t see what shoppers are doing. Experienced shoplifters know not only how to find vulnerable areas and angles but also take advantage of them when you are distracted. This problem can be solved with solutions as simple as adding mirrors.
Just like shoppers are more likely to buy form people they know and trust, they are also less likely to steal from people they feel connected to. Greeting customers lets him or her know you are aware of their presence. Checking in, asking if they need help, even creating small talk is not just good customer service. It also prevents potential shoplifters from feeling comfortable enough to steal.
Using a software program to manage your inventory can help you keep track of all your products, so you can definitively know what is missing when. This won’t necessarily prevent shrink at first, but will help you pinpoint exactly what went wrong when and allow you to take a more targeted approach to fixing the problem.
When it comes to shrink, ignorance is bliss for shoplifters. The first and largest step for prevention is awareness.