Innovative Retail Technologies

MAR 2013

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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Cover Feature h.h. gregg Challenges The Loss Prevention Philosophy LP sometimes has an adversarial relationship with store personnel. This electronics retailer has succeeded in creating a mutually beneficial partnership. by Bob Johns I t is not often that someone has the chance to build an LP department from the ground up for a major U.S. retailer, but that is exactly the opportunity afforded to Todd Zimmerman, national asset protection manager at h.h. gregg. When Zimmerman came to the national electronics retailer in 2004, the company consisted of 55 stores and had no LP team. The company had an audit team which accounted for inventory, but no best practices or procedures were in place for what to do when irregularities in counts arose. Since that time, h.h. gregg has grown to more than 220 stores and $2.5 billion in annual revenue and is currently growing at roughly 15 to 20 stores per year. Zimmerman began his career as a store detective at Lazarus department stores straight out of college and stayed with them as the company was acquired by Federated Department Stores and became Macy's. It was there he was approached by then h.h. gregg President Dennis May about starting the LP team at his company. Zimmerman was excited about the possibility of molding his own department, but he wanted it to be different from other LP departments. "I didn't want the LP department to be viewed as just the company police; I wanted us to be partnered with every department within the company and really thrive on those partnerships," Zimmerman says. When the department started, he was the only LP person for all 55 stores. Today, his department consists of 18 team members across the store network. Gaining Control Of The Stores The first thing Zimmerman wanted to do was get a handle on where the company stood in regard to loss prevention, and among the main things he 6 RetailSolutionsOnline.com ‚óŹ March 2013 looked at were the burglar and fire-detection alarm systems. Frankly, he was shocked at what he found. "Although we had only 55 stores, we were contracted with 17 different alarm companies, some local, some regional, and even some national. I found instances where two different companies were billing for the same services at the same stores. We had no visibility into the daily alarm triggers showing when the store was accessed, and therefore we had no control over the store access," he says. Zimmerman immediately began the process of consolidating the store alarm companies, and now the entire chain is handled by two companies, one of which is Vector Security. Vector was chosen because of the amount of control and visibility Zimmerman is able to enjoy. He has complete access to who entered what building, at what time, if that was the authorized time, or if it was an exception for some reason, or if there were irregular exits (e.g. a snatch-and-run theft). As Zimmerman was taking control of the alarm situation, he also needed to build the interdepartmental relationships. "A lot of relationship-building comes from training and awareness," he says. "With more than 7,000 employees, each of them needs to be aware that the LP department is not there just to try to bust them or thieves, it is there to try to make the company stronger, which is better for everyone." Zimmerman did not want an aura of fear to accompany him into every store he or his team visited. "I want our store managers and associates to look at my department as a partner, here to help them figure out existing problems, prevent future issues, and be operationally sound."

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