Throw Away the Lock & Key

Technology tools can help retailers turn away unwanted customers without also turning away wanted ones.
A man installing a security camera outside a store

Stop me if you've heard this one before. You run into your nearest store to pick up one or two much-needed items only to find one of those items under lock and key. Next to it is a so-very-helpful button to call for a store associate to unlock the item. Not wanting to be bothered, you move on to get the next time on your list only to find … you guessed it, the same lock-and-key situation. 

If you're like me, you most likely move on not to the next item on your list, but to the next store where you can shop for what you need without having to provide your social security number, eye color and favorite member of New Kids on the Block. 

That last part is obviously an exaggeration, but what is not an exaggeration is the frustration a customer feels when trying to get in and out of a store with their shopping list complete in a quick and efficient manner. Retailers are feeling the same frustration with increasing theft driving them to take these drastic measures.

There has to be a better solution. 

For some retailers, that solution lies in technology. Speaking on a panel at the National Retail Federation's (NRF) annual show in January, executives from Jacksons Food Stores and The Kroger Co. explained that technology is a necessary tool in their company's toolbox to fight this growing problem. Pointedly, Kroger's Mike Lamb said: "In the absence of technology and advancement of AI, I would suggest we would be in a far worse place."

[Read more: Convenience Store Operators Grapple With Rising Crime]

From surveillance cameras inside and outside the store to advanced self-checkout kiosks, there are a myriad of options available to retailers to get a better grip on in-store shrink. As the problem spreads from the bigger cities to smaller markets, combating retail crime will only become a bigger part of the day-to-day conversations in boardrooms and storerooms across every retail channel. 

Working with technology providers, retailers are sure to find a better solution than the lock and key. Driving away any unwanted consumers doesn't matter if you also drive away your wanted customers. 

And in case you are wondering, it's Donny. 

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