Whenever ownership of an item is required or desired, people are encouraged to purchase such items from retail establishments. The transaction process generally involves the intended item owner exchanging funds in the required amount at a service point. The process concludes with the paid item changing ownership from the retail outlet to the paying customer. The customer thus becomes the proud owner of the item.
The majority of customers are honest people who always conclude the sales transaction in appropriate fashion. However, there are some people who feel the need to bypass the purchasing transaction and simply help themselves to items, leaving the store without paying for them. This lack of respect for the purchasing process has required stores to introduce a variety of security measures in an effort to limit stock loss. Such measures include:
- Posting security guards on the entrance and exit of the store;
- Attaching security tags to products so that if a person tries to leave the store without paying for them, an alarm will sound;
- Plains clothes security personnel patrolling within the store to ‘subtly’ monitor store activities;
- Storing highly desirable and/or expensive items in secure areas behind service counters;
- Installing cameras to record surveillance footage; and
- Checking customer bags as they exit the store.
It is completely understandable that retail establishments will employ different methods and technologies to combat the loss of stock. However it is completely unfair to punish all customers because these methods and technologies are not being appropriately utilised by store management. The bond between customers and retailers is built on trust, and so treating all customers like they are stealing stock is embarrassing and more than a little insulting.
If stores have responsibly implemented reliable measures such as security tag systems and surveillance cameras, there should be no need for staff to check the bags of all customers leaving the store. Doing so only implies that the retailer believes the customer has taken something without paying. No one enjoys being accused of such things, no matter how indirectly the accusation is relayed.
If for some reason, despite the presence of more discreet security measures, retailers still insist on looking through customer bags, there is absolutely no need to touch anything in their bags to ‘get a better view’. Also customers should never have to wait in line for their bags to be checked at the store exit, particularly if they have not made a purchase.
It is logical for stores to make full use of the security methods they have in place. However, rather than use these methods as a passive deterrent, retailers should actively use security measures which impact as little as possible on the majority of customers. Honest shoppers should not be punished for the sake of a handful of less ethical consumers, nor should their shopping experience be marred by intrusive security practices. The message is simple – have faith in your customers and they will have faith in you.