Shoppers are finding more empty space on store shelves, but not because the retailer is out of stock. In many cases, the items are locked away to prevent theft.
At a Best Buy Co. store in the suburbs of Houston, hundreds of items including Bose speakers and Fitbit activity trackers have been replaced by small blue signs that read, “This product kept in secured location,” and ask shoppers to find store workers for help.
“There used to be a lot more on the floor itself than locked up in cages,” said Gary Pearce, a 47-year-old manager at a disaster restoration company who shops in the store weekly.
The store is a sign of an endemic challenge for retailers: how to stop theft without shrinking profits or inconveniencing shoppers. Retailers have long dealt with theft, and frequency is down from a peak last winter for some, said retail executives. But theft attempt levels are higher than they were before the pandemic.
Home Depot has been locking up more products during the past 12 months as a stopgap while testing more customer-friendly, higher-tech solutions, according to the company.
“It’s a triage-type scenario. It’s stop the bleeding and give yourself some time,” said Scott Glenn, vice president of asset protection at Home Depot.
InVue, a Charlotte, N.C., company that sells retailers digital locks, tracking sensors and software, late last year started getting requests from retailers asking for more customer friendly options, said Chris Gibson, InVue’s chief product and marketing officer.
InVue is pitching more automated solutions that are more aesthetically pleasing or make it easier for store workers or shoppers to unlock a product quickly. Locking down products “became this draconian thing” during the pandemic, said Mr. Gibson. “A lot of our partners are saying, maybe that was a bridge too far.”
To learn more, read the full article from the Wall Street Journal.