Retail Environment Security Issues & Prevention Techniques

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

The retail environment encounters many security issues. Some can be halted with the implementation of prevention techniques. In this lesson, you'll learn about the more common types of security issues and how to stop them.

Security Check

Tony is at his wit's end. As a small business owner, he has many areas of his business to focus on, including hiring employees, managing inventory, and basic accounting duties. Recently, though, Tony has seen an increase in thefts from his store - both in disappearing inventory as well as fraudulent returns at the cash register.

By adding security measures, retail stores can safeguard against shoplifting and theft.
By adding security prevention techniques, retail environment can safeguard against shoplifting and theft.

What can Tony do to help prevent these types of headaches? There are many preventive techniques, or actions he can take to stop the theft before it begins, that he can consider to help protect his assets and his business. Let's take a look at a few now.

Retail Security Issues and How to Prevent Them

A retail environment is fraught with any number of security issues, ranging from customer shoplifting, stealing and fraud, to employee pilferage and internal theft in shipping and receiving. In this lesson, we'll look at an example of each, and preventive techniques that can help stop each one.

Problem: Shoplifting

Shoplifting occurs when a customer takes an item they did not pay for and leaves the store.


  • Interact with customers and engage with them. Customers who are looking to shoplift may be dissuaded by an attentive and present employee or staff member. Approaching a customer who is exhibiting strange behaviors such as avoiding eye contact, wandering in the store without purchasing, or lingering in an area of the store that is out of sight, can often deter shoplifting behaviors.
  • Keep an organized store and consider keeping higher-priced items that might be more targeted for shoplifting under lock and key. Place the cash registers near your store's entrance so that would-be shoplifters must walk by the watchful eye of your employees in order to leave the store with merchandise.
  • Lastly, consider using anti-theft devices on some of your items and at the entrance/exit of your store. Visible security measures such as security guards, anti-theft devices, and video cameras may help to deter shoplifters as well.

Problem: Fraud

Fraud is the deliberate act of trying to return merchandise for personal gain. This might include returning items with a forged receipt, returning stolen goods, returning used merchandise, or returning an item to one store that is from another.


  • The easiest action you can take to help prevent return fraud, in any form, is to make it your store's policy to provide proof of purchase. A back-up to a paper receipt might be a digital one that you are able to cross-check through your store's cash register system. That back-up can help to ensure that the receipt has not been altered or tampered with.
  • You can also open all packages that customers bring in as returns. This will ensure that the contents are what they're supposed to be and have not been switched for a lesser-priced item, or used beyond a reasonable amount.
  • Consider implementing a customer-return tracking system to look for patterns in repeat returns or for customers who might be abusing the system. Keeping a clearly-defined and strict return policy can also help prevent some forms of fraud at the return counter.

Problem: Pilferage

Pilferage occurs when employees steal small quantities of items from a larger shipment or contents of an overall larger package.


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