Since it was established in 1999, the Shrinkage and On-shelf Availability Group has become one of the key drivers of new thinking and innovative approaches to problem solving in the world of retail loss prevention. In the 17 years since it first met, the Group has seen an extraordinary amount of change in the retail industry – who would have imagined back then that customers would be using their own mobile phone to both scan and pay for product in stores, without any interaction with a member of staff? Retail has always been a dynamic and exciting industry – change is very much in the DNA of the business – and yet even seasoned experts are struggling to keep up with the pace of technological change witnessed in the past few years. Like all change, it can produce winners and losers, and in the world of retail, we can see some companies that are taking advantage of this technological whirlwind, while others are being blown away, consigned to the history blogs.
In the world of loss prevention, rapid technological and associated organisational change generates many challenges, not least in trying to understand what the possible negative consequences might be. Criminological research shows how innovative and adaptable thieves can be – usually exposing loopholes in systems long before the supposed ‘experts’ realise. This creates a perpetual cycle known as the ‘ratchet effect’, where loopholes are plugged for a while before new ways of exploitation are developed, which in turn require yet more plugs to be put in place.
What the ECR Community Shrinkage and On-shelf Availability Group aims to do, through research and information sharing, is help retailers and manufacturers to:
- Develop ways of measuring and understanding the true impact of retail losses across their businesses.
- Understand what the vulnerabilities and opportunities of new retail approaches might be.
- Think about how interventions can be developed that deal with the root causes of the problem and not simply react to the symptoms.
- Recognise that retail losses are very much a choice – that business decisions will have both positive and negative outcomes and both need to be understood and included in any eventual cost-benefit analysis.
- Champion the idea of Selling More and Losing Less.
The Group is very fortunate to be sponsored by some enlightened companies that recognise the value and importance of supporting new research in this field – both Checkpoint Systems and Oliver Wyman have contributed enormously to the success of the Group. But its longevity is also a testament to not only the ongoing challenge presented by developing effective ways to better manage loss prevention, but also the enthusiasm of its established members and the leadership provided by John Fonteijn, its Chairman, and Colin Peacock, the Group Programme Co-ordinator.
The Group has an exciting programme of meetings and research projects planned for 2017 and would welcome any retailers and manufacturers who would like to join. For further information about the Group please visit the website: http://ecr-shrink-group.com or email myself: firstname.lastname@example.org or Colin Peacock: email@example.com.
The Group’s next meeting will be in Barcelona on 8-9th February 2017.