Letter from America – September 2017

american_flagThe Fall Loss Prevention conference season is in full swing in the U.S. and I’ll give a quick update of what is being discussed, debated, and researched on this side of the pond.

This week there will be three events in Nashville with the RILA Asset Protection Leaders Council convening on Weds. and Thursday to conduct benchmark store visits, conduct a “Shark Tank” innovation exercise with start-up companies, a session on the impact of store management engagement on loss results, and a presentation and roundtable on digital/e-comm loss prevention and how it fits into and, potentially, builds out the Total Retail Loss model. As the RILA event winds down, the annual LP Magazine meeting will start-up with sessions on hidden bias and its impact on loss prevention, natural disaster preparation and response, and an overview of the editorial agenda for this important publication in the coming year. I will also have the opportunity to share the existing and in-progress research projects that ECR Community Shrink and OSA Group have been spear-heading in our industry. Finally, the LP Foundation and its new leader, Terry Sullivan, will meet to discuss how they continue to drive value and education in the industry.

But, wait, there’s more! Last week, Paul Bessant and his crew from the UK came over for their Retail Fraud New York conference with a kick off session exploring “megatrends in loss prevention.” The focus on the future was continued with sessions on Artificial Intelligence in retail and predictive analytics. During the first week of October, the Loss Prevention Research Council, under the leadership of Read Hayes, will be convening for their annual “IMPACT” conference where they will bring together practitioners and vendors to promote a research and data-driven approach to reducing crime and loss and increase sales. There will also be some retail loss prevention presence at the ASIS Annual Conference in Dallas the last week in September and there will be a myriad of events such as vendor user conferences, regional ORC meetings, and specialty meetings.

All of this leads me to suggest that there are few industry segments that do a better job at striving to understand the current state of their industry, where it is headed and what external forces will impact it, and how they need to adapt or change to meet the new challenges. In addition, the relatively recent emphasis or data and research on both sides of the Atlantic are encouraging to those of us who started when most of our information and knowledge was anecdotal and mythological.

Many in our industry are questioning whether “loss prevention” as we know it is disappearing. My answer is that every time I’ve seen a retailer de-emphasize loss prevention or try to replace it with an “operations only” or “data-analytics  only” approach, they have quickly found the importance of many of the traditional approaches towards loss control when their loss results begin to be realized. As long as we continue to look at how we evolve and improve as industry, count me amongst the bullish.

About the author:

Walter Palmer is President of PCG Solutions, Inc., a leading consultancy in the Loss Prevention industry that provides strategic guidance, research, and training programs for some of the leading retail brands in the world. With over 30 years of experience, he is a frequent speaker, feature author, and contributor to industry publications and trade associations.

Email: wpalmer@PCGsolutions.com

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