Preparing your store for the holiday season ahead
The holiday season is upon us, which is an important time for retail businesses. It can provide a much needed boost in sales, but on the flip side it can also mean an increase in safety and security risks.
Here are a few tips to protect your customers, your business, and your assets.
Take safety measures to prevent injuries
With larger crowds, health and safety issues can become more magnified during the festive season. It’s important to eliminate any hazards before the rush begins so your customers don’t end up injured as they’re scrambling to get that last minute gift.
If you’ve put up a Christmas tree and decorations ensure they’re secured properly and won’t fall over, and make sure any cords from Christmas lights aren’t left loose on the floor or crossing over walkways.
Also, regularly inspect your floor for spills that could easily cause slips and falls, and clear your aisles of any boxes or debris that may be cluttering them.
Even if you’ve taken all precautions to prevent an incident from occurring, if a customer is injured whilst visiting your store you could end up facing a serious liability claim, which could result in unexpected payment for compensation and legal expenses. Ensure your Public Liability insurance policy has adequate cover to protect you and your business against a public liability claim.
The busier your store is, the higher the risk of being exposed to theft and shoplifting. In fact, the 2016 Retail Holiday Season Global Forecast revealed shrink by retailers is at its peak during the holiday season, with 35% of annual theft losses occurring at this time.
No matter how tight your security is there will always be those who attempt to steal from you. And unfortunately most insurers exclude shoplifting under Theft cover due to the fact that it is difficult to prove unless caught red-handed, and most disappearances of stock usually only come to light following a stock take.
However, there are a number of things you can do to minimise your risk of becoming a victim including:
- Having enough staff onboard to manage increased traffic
- Training your employees to keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour and be able to identify potential shoplifters
- Conducting bag checks and installing security tags on vulnerable items, as well as making sure expensive items are locked away in display cabinets
- Ensuring cash registers are locked at all times when not in use
- Installing video surveillance and monitoring services to deter would-be thieves and assist you and the police in identifying a shoplifters once it’s occurred
- Investing in an effective inventory management system to keep track of your stock
Reduce employee fraud
It’s not a nice thought, but unfortunately, internal theft is as much of a problem as external theft. Not only does hiring casual employees during the holiday season pose an additional risk, long term trusted employees you least expect are often the culprit.
The added financial pressure of the Christmas provides an additional motive for theft, and even honest people can be tempted to do things they normally wouldn’t do.
To help minimise internal theft:
- Conduct thorough background checks before hiring staff and get to know all of your employees
- Restrict user permissions on your POS and be selective on which staff you grant access to security codes and keys
- Ensure you have a strong presence at your store or stop by regularly without warning
- Spot check your inventory and balance your cash registers regularly
- Encourage anonymous tip off’s from your employees so they can report any suspicious behaviour from co-workers
- Ensure your employees are aware of the security measures you have in place to monitor everything that goes on in your store and be clear with them that you have zero tolerance for employee theft of any sort
Having a Management Liability policy is the most effective way to deal with situations of internal theft which includes cover for both theft of property and money. In addition, it will also provide protection against other risks and exposures associated with running your own retail store, such as OH&S dramas, unfair dismissal, sexual harassment, defamation, breach of statutory duty, and statutory fines and penalties.
Reduce data breaches
As more shoppers turn to online shopping it’s time to think about increasing your website security measures if you have an online presence – not only to protect your digital assets, but to protect your customers too. It’s up to you to ensure the safety of your customer’s data and credit card information.
With hackers constantly looking to exploit small businesses there’s a number of steps you can take to minimise the chances of your business being exposed to cyber attacks and data breaches, including protecting your passwords, only using https and secure connections, adopt SSL encryption, and ensuring your antivirus software is up-to-date.
Cyber criminals however, are always finding new sophisticated ways to access systems and data. Therefore, a Cyber Liability insurance policy can act as your safety net against data breaches after being hacked or having your customer’s information stolen. It can cover investigation and data recovery costs, extortion costs, fines and penalties associated with privacy breaches, as well as business interruption costs and PR and crisis management costs to help protect your reputation.
Safeguard against fire and other perils
Whether you’re planning on taking advantage of the busy holiday season to boost your sales or you prefer to wind your business down and take a much need break, it’s essential to have a plan in place to protect your business against fire and other perils.
Australia is well known for extreme weather conditions, particularly during the summertime. Fire and storms can cause significant damage to your premises, contents and stock. There’s also the risk of malicious damage and theft from forcible and violent entry, either at night or while your store is unattended.
- Check that all electrical equipment is turned off when not in use and whilst there is nobody present, including Christmas lights and decorations
- Invest in good fire detection alarms and sprinkler systems
- Maintain trees around your premises and clear debris or other obstructions
- Ensure your CCTV covers not only the internal areas of your store but the external areas too
- Install a good quality burglar alarm monitoring system to protect your store after hours
- Secure your premises as best as possible with deadlocks, shutters and grills
- Ensue there is adequate lighting at night
Creating a contingency plan around the ‘what if’s’ is the best way to protect your business, which includes having sufficient Business Insurance coverage to provide financial protection. Depending on the cover options you choose, it will protect you against damage or theft to contents, stock, portable valuables and money; damage to buildings and glass; and machinery breakdown. It can also provide protection against financial loss due to business interruption in the case you’ve had to close your store temporarily or relocate.