Reflecting upon recent conversations I’ve had with Loss Prevention (LP) leaders, I have noticed an interesting shift in the way inventory shortage, or shrinkage, is being talked about. Over the many years I have been in the retail loss prevention industry, I have seen the focus of loss prevention leaders volley from one thing to the next. Robberies, employee theft, shoplifting and Organized Retail Crime (ORC) are still some of the most commonly talked about LP issues. However, these discussions are no longer solely focused on how these issues impact shrinkage. Most recently, these discussions focus on how these issues impact sales. After all, retailers cannot sell off empty shelves.
The phrase “Save the Sale” started to surface in 2009, but it has recently gained ever more momentum. Loss Prevention executives from retailers of all kinds are being charged with “Saving the Sale” in all areas of their focus.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be publishing a series on how Saving the Sale affects you and how you can help your organizations “Save the Sale.” Here’s the first two critical points to saving the sale:
Save the Sale Means Real-Time Access to Inventory
Retailers like Macy’s and The Children’s Place are still hot on ‘omnichannel retail,’ which is the term used to describe how retailers connect online and offline shopping behaviors. In a recent article in Forbes Magazine, Macy’s Executive Chairman, Terry Lundgren, stated that Macy’s is continuing to see serious growth in the area of “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPUS). He believes “physical stores are not going away,” and that, “customers will always want the option of coming into the store to try on jeans instead of buying three different sizes online.”
In this same article, Jane Elfers, CEO of The Children’s Place, stated her organization is also making a “big move towards digital and employing a lot of the omnichannel use cases like BOPUS and ‘Save the Sale.’” The article goes on to acknowledge that ‘Save the Sale’ requires store associates to have the ability to access real-time inventory across the network of stores, and that this inventory access enables store associates to keep customers from walking away from a purchase by finding their desired item online or at another store location with ease.
Failing to Save the Sale Increases Shrink
People rarely consider that sales directly impacts reported shrinkage percentages. The most successful loss prevention executives understand that when sales are up, shrinkage often decreases. Conversely, when sales are soft, the reported shrinkage percentage often increases. This is because shrinkage is typically reported as a percent-to-sales. This is calculated by dividing the total dollar amount of inventory shortage by the total sales. For example, if a retailer that does $3 million/year in sales takes inventory and determines $100,000 of inventory is unaccounted for, they simply divide $100,000 by the $3,000,000 and report a 3.33% shrinkage rate.
This means that if the inventory shortage of $100,000 stays the same, but sales increase to $3.2 million/year, their reported shrinkage rate decreases 20 basis points to 3.13. Conversely, if sales decrease to $2.8 million, their reported shrinkage rate would increase by 24 basis points to 3.57%. This is partly why retail’s classic saying – “Sales cures all ills” – has stood the test of time.
Stay tuned for the next in the series, “Seamlessly Saving the Sale”…