How do you measure a proactive means of what can be done to mitigate the unique risks of retailing? On the front end; by setting the foundation through relevant, strong policies, clear procedures and guidelines, developing a policy/compliance/validation audit program focused in on physical security, loss prevention measures.  Next is follow up by a periodic gap assessment that provides a scope of vision snapshot throughout the course of the year with an executive summary pushed to Senior Leadership in the organization that calls out the top risks to a business (to both internal and external customers, product and brand).

Krista Osborne, former Starbucks CSO and currently with Amazon as the Global Manager for Compliance & Validation, said that one of the most pivotal pieces in mitigating retail risk from a loss prevention and physical security perspective is the Strong Policies, and is something that needs to be on the front end and should establish a foundation through relevant, strong policies, clear procedures and guidelines. Often, the policies are crystal clear to those who build them yet when rolled into the field, there may be translation challenges and a reoccurring lack of compliance with policies often points to a need for policy revision and clarity, Osborne said. The purpose of policies is to maintain control and illustrate the scheme and systems of management—safety & security of people (internal & external), assets and your brand.

In her presentation, Osborne said that policy training and education is key, as human behavior is naturally motivated by how some action or required activity makes one’s job easier, provides some return on investment/safety included.

“If you educate people on the purpose of a policy, they become a champion of the policy and explain to others how it adds value,” she said. “Telling the ‘story’ about how all of the different moving parts take us to the common vision again allows others to perpetuate the story and compliance. Most of you have likely inherited existing policy, a push for annual review and being involved in revision input is critical—based on measured feedback.”

Maslow’s Hierarchy is a simple way to explain how a business can create an environment where they get the most bang for their buck out of their employees, Osborne said. Meeting the basic needs of food, water, shelter as the foundation ( a salary ) is critical in order to enable employees to move up the pyramid to a point where they will bring in money most efficiently for the company, she said.

Next comes the perception of employees feeling safe at work, in their engagement with customers;  explaining what the company is doing (to include specific policies associated) to help keep employees safe through the use of cameras, turnstiles, workplace violence training and incident reporting. Once safety concerns are alleviated, then employees can engage with customers in a most genuine/engaged manner, Osborne said. “This elevated engagement ends up reaping rewards based on performance which enhances their esteem and leads to accomplishing their goals personally and professionally.”

The purpose of policies is to maintain control and illustrate the scheme and systems of management—safety & security of people (internal & external), assets and the brand. The investment in an auditing/compliance measure can yield strong year over year identification of risks to be mitigated, dollars to be saved as a result, and improved performance/output and ROI, Osborne said. Actions and timelines show partnership and support with internal customer base, especially if capital requests are necessary.

At Starbucks, Osborne implemented a Weekly Incidents, Issues, Actions Reporting system, which included levels of awareness cross functionally and often helped get risk areas mitigated more quickly as a result of ‘filtering. ’ Another result of the system was that cross functional leadership gain stronger insights into what may have been silo’s—nuggets of understanding help them lead from stronger footing.

Those contributors should be aware up front that this will help their teams get the support they need and they will be prepared with ‘what they have done’ to remedy when their manager/boss calls and asks what has been done to make this better, Osborne said. “Strengthens internal cross functional communication at all levels, builds efficiencies in business, and ultimately protects people, assets and your brand.”