Massive HIV-testing drive for SA

first_imgA major HIV counselling and testing campaign set to reach 15 million South Africans is due to kick off in South Africa this month. (Image: Chris Kirchhoff,MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. For more freephotos visit the image library) MEDIA CONTACTS • Nono Simelane SA National Aids Council +27 11 655 7000 [email protected] RELATED ARTICLES • Loving life, fighting Aids • Hunger strike against HIV • Bold new HIV/Aids plan for SA • R13m boost for HIV clinic in SANosimilo RamelaA major HIV counselling and testing campaign will be launched in South Africa this April. Recognised as the most comprehensive in the world to date, the drive aims to have 15-million South Africans tested by June 2011.The initiative, which is being led by the South African National Aids Council (Sanac) and government, will run until the end of 2011, when the National Strategic Plan on HIV and Aids is concluded.Speaking at a Sanac meeting in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, on 17 March, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said: “The main objectives of the campaign are to encourage South Africans to know their HIV status; to equip those who test HIV-negative with ways of ensuring that they do not get HIV; to increase health-seeking behaviour; and to create a quick and easy entry point to accessing wellness and treatment services for those who test HIV-positive.From April 15, everyone who visits one of the 4 300 health facilities in the country will be offered an HIV test, regardless of whether they show symptoms or not, the minister added.Previously only pregnant women and people showing symptoms of HIV were given the option of being tested, while others had to volunteer and request a test.“I don’t have a feeling that South Africans understand that the biggest weapon against HIV must be prevention,” Motsoaledi said. “The mainstay of the fight against any disease is to prevent it from happening.”The Department of Health will raise funds for testing kits to be supplied to all health centres. “Health facilities won’t be expected to provide those,” the minister said.According to the Health Department, there are currently more than 5-million people living with HIV/Aids in South Africa – out of a population of 49-million.In the 2010/11 national budget, presented by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, the Department of Health’s HIV/Aids allocation increased by 33% from the previous year.Compared to budgets for other departments, 33% is the highest increase, said Motsoaledi.But “we can’t keep on increasing by 33%. We have got to cut the rate of infection. That’s where the issue of prevention comes in,” he said.“If we keep on increasing [the budget] we will reach a situation in South Africa where the whole budget must go to the treatment of HIV/Aids, and I don’t think any country can afford that. So, our war of prevention is extraordinarily important.”Private-public partnershipLocal business has shown great support for the drive. “We fully endorse and support government’s campaign, its targets and the keen focus on HIV prevention,” said Brad Mears, CEO of The South African Business Coalition on HIV/Aids (Sabcoha), which works with the private sector in combating the epidemic.Mears said his organisation would establish workplace wellness facilities to provide HIV counselling and testing.“You don’t have to be a scientist to know that prevention is better than cure at all times. But if you have failed to prevent it and it has happened, you have to treat it. We do accept that the fact that we have got so many people on treatment, might be the failure of prevention,” Motsoaledi said.last_img read more

Security at the Source

first_imgManufacturer involvement in designing product protection is decades old, noted University of Florida research scientist Read Hayes, PhD, CPP. He remembers Walt Disney’s Buena Vista Pictures as being an early pioneer in coordinating with retailers to prevent theft. Video releases such as Beauty and the Beast were massive hits with kids—but also with shoplifters. “Maybe some executives at Disney saw it differently and thought it’s solely up to retailers to protect products, but the consensus for them was to see it as a mutual problem,” he recalled. “So we came up with portable fixtures and included some security features and were able to reduce theft by making it harder and less rewarding to steal and increasing the odds of being caught.”Read Hayes, PhD, CPPHe remembers, too, working with a lip balm company on display options to increase shoplifters’ effort and to prevent the small product from falling into cracks and getting lost—an early industry effort to address “total retail loss.” In the industry’s most celebrated example involving Gillette, the company mapped its entire process for handling product—from the time it’s made all the way through to the shelf—looking for opportunities to improve process and handling to reduce the risk of loss.And, generally speaking, it’s not much different today, said Hayes. The roadmap and anti-theft menu is similar now as in these past examples. “Where you put it in the store, what types of display fixtures you use, employee positioning, prodding employees to pay particular attention to very high-loss SKUs, focused protective tech, what do you do, how often you do it—these are all options that are available for each solution.”- Sponsor – As director of the Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC), which conducts research into crime and theft prevention technologies for the retail industry and includes manufacturers among its membership, Hayes has a unique seat from which to view the working relationship between retail LP and product manufacturers. He’s in the room when the two sides are discussing anti-theft solutions, both separately and when they are brainstorming solutions together. While the issue of theft prevention often divides the two sides, his job is in the middle-helping both.“I’d say the relationship is not necessarily better or worse than in decades past. I think it tends to go up and down,” said Hayes. He said he’s fortunate to work with manufacturers that want to work with retailers, but he knows that’s not universal, that some manufacturers still see retail theft as retail’s problem. “They think, ‘I’m already making a great product. I’m doing promotion to create demand. I’m shipping the product, so you have it when you want it. And now you want me to do more? You’re running the store.’”The Manufacturers’ Perspective“One stole is one sold” is still the perspective that some manufacturers cling to according to some loss prevention executives we interviewed. And a willingness to work with retail loss prevention isn’t as strong in some sectors of goods as others, they said.Krista Marantos MonninManufacturers in the drug, food, and household goods sectors have tended to be more aggressive in pursuing product protection, according to industry experts. Several LP leaders specifically identified Procter & Gamble (P&G) as a model manufacturer partner, for example. Krista Marantos Monnin is a retail business leader at P&G and oversees the company’s on-shelf availability operation. “We see it as a collaborative role with our retailer partners; ultimately, it has to be a retailer solution because everybody addresses shrink differently on the retailer side,” she said.Source tagging is certainly a primary part of product protection today, said Monnin, but even within that ubiquitous solution, retailers deviate on what frequency of tags they require. As such, she said manufacturers aren’t effectively positioned to forge across-the-board solutions on their own. Plus, even within the same product-Tide, for example- variation in packaging, size, and theft desirability often belies a single product protection strategy. “So if a customer comes to us and reports that it has a problem with Tide, we have to narrow it down to where and which SKUs, and then we can work together to find a solution that is effective, working off of a solutions matrix that we have built based on our experiences.”Certain manufacturers operate under heightened requirements for product protection due to consumer health and safety concerns. For these companies, product diversion is more than a nuisance—supply-chain risks are material to the business. One generic drugmaker­­­, for example, wrote in its annual mandatory 10-K filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, “Cargo thefts and/or diversions, and economically or maliciously motivated product tampering on store shelves may occur, causing unexpected shortages, which may have a material impact on our operations.” Because of the stakes involved, such companies have led the way in product serialization to increase supply-chain visibility.Embedding security features into products as a selling point is also a possible trend as use cases for identification technology seeps into more product category niches. For example, manufacturers build technology by GearSecure, a mash-up of RFID and GPS, into musical instruments, which then allows end-users like touring bands to keep tabs on their gear. Collaboration between wireless companies and makers of cell phones has led to increasing adoption of kill-switch technology. There is an anti-counterfeiting sewing thread. There are apparel makers that mesh RFID, NFC, and QR codes together for tags that capitalize on the benefits of each.And a few manufacturers are using anti-theft solutions to gain competitive advantage in high-shrink product categories, according to Hayes. By building in security measures, these companies can “go to a retailer and say, ‘Hey, I understand that this product category is a challenge for you, but what if I take these steps that will reduce the amount of loss?’” That can result in favorable treatment because they are helping the retailer solve a problem, said Hayes.One prominent example is RCA, a maker of tablet computers. By tweaking firmware during manufacture, the company’s devices require a code for activation available only at point-of-sale. Without a legitimate purchase, they’re bricks. By denying thieves the ability to use the device if they steal it, and thus the motive to steal, the company was able to sell the prospect of fewer losses to forge a more favorable deal with a big-box retailer.Adam AlfordAdam Alford, senior director for loss prevention at GameStop, said his team has met with a few vendors in the last few months on the benefit-denial concept, with the goal of being able to put higher-value live products on the floor without increasing loss. Many merchants think such availability is vital to driving brick-and-mortar sales today as customers rely on stores as a place to touch and test products, rather than simply make purchases. Alford particularly likes the strategy’s potential in the mobile phone and tablet space.According to some LP practitioners, it’s somewhat rare for manufacturers to take individual initiative on theft prevention. The booming connected-home market is an example—smart thermostats, smart plugs, and the like. While these vendors understand their products are in high demand and can be high theft—and will discuss the issue, ask for recommendations, and gladly take measures to prevent their product from being secured in a physical lock-up—it typically stops there. Vendors are not necessarily at the point where they go to retailers to say, “We know theft is an issue, so we’ve partnered with this solution or built in this technology to prevent theft, and how will this work for you?” That conversation remains rare.The core obstacle is the same as it has always been, said several industry leaders. In some cases, manufacturers may not perceive that they have skin in the game and fail to see an impact on them if a retailer experiences high losses. Small brands may more easily recognize high losses as detrimental, recognizing the possibility that a store may choose to buy fewer of their products, move their products to online sales only, or discontinue altogether a product with high shrink.But large vendors, ones that hold some leverage on retailers, can remain hesitant to implement solutions that are going to raise their costs. “It’s not adversarial; they’re willing to hear you out,” but they often fail to see enough value to drive them to take action, said one LP director. A requirement that high-shrink items must be source-tagged is fairly routine and well accepted by manufacturers, but working on new, innovative solutions can be more challenging, noted the LP executive.While their particular bottom-line interests naturally divide manufacturers and retailers on the issue of retail theft, Hayes sees goodwill-and recognition of the legitimacy of each other’s viewpoint-as a viable building block to successful LP-manufacturer collaboration. Rather than a unique challenge, Hayes characterizes the divergence between the two camps as similar to many business relationships. “It’s just complicated,” said Hayes. “Everyone has positive intentions, but everyone also wants to make their numbers.” Cultivating those good intentions are thus an important part of creating effective LP partnerships with product manufacturers.Richard E. Widup, Jr., CPP, CFEIt may sound trite, but it’s nonetheless true, that it all comes down to relationships, agreed Richard E. Widup, Jr., CPP, CFE, global corporate security director at RB, which acquired Mead Johnson last year, the maker of Enfamil and other infant formulas. “We all have a part to play, and manufacturers especially,” he said. “We need to understand shrink at the policy level and at the store level. And we need to use that to help shape and enhance our partnerships and forge open and honest discussions about what are the best solutions.”Ties That BindData provide a helpful building block to successful joint projects, according to Hayes. “Shoplifting can be very tightly clustered to specific products, specific brands, and even specific SKUs for specific brands,” he said. Most retailers have pretty good information on the rate of loss, down to the category brand, and sharing that data with manufacturer partners can help enhance coordination on theft prevention, he continued. “It’s still the case that some manufacturers are blind to it, and they don’t know anything until the retailer reaches out and shows them numbers on theft.”P&G’s Monnin sees data as a prerequisite to forging problem-specific solutions and is in the early stages of working on new protection strategies for the company’s Tide product. But to do it effectively, retailers need to partake. “We need our retailer partners to share data so that we can accurately assess the problem,” she said.Nicole DeHoratiusThe quality of the data collected and shared could also be improved to forge more meaningful cooperation, suggested Nicole DeHoratius, a professor at University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and an expert in retail operations management. “Retailers shouldn’t just share their shrink lists. They need to conduct additional analyses and examine the underlying characteristics driving the shrink problem,” she advised. “LP needs to be far more analytical and examine what’s common about shrink across products, locations, retailers, and so on.“For example, do we observe commonalities across vendors, distribution channels, stores, and products with the same packaging? What are the underlying attributes of the shrink that might give an indication of the root cause?” This is particularly true given the pace of churn among SKUs and vendors, she added. “So on the retailer side, the problem isn’t generally a particular unwillingness to share but rather the existing skill set of the traditional LP professional,” she said, noting that to successfully move the industry forward, LP needs to adopt a more robust analytical skill set.Data sharing is key, and so is robust evidence of the effectiveness of solutions, according to Hayes. Manufacturers may be willing to bear the cost of a theft prevention solution, but they want evidence it works, and year-over-year data doesn’t necessarily provide it. “Hundreds of things can happen during the year that can alter the results,” said Hayes. As such, controlled experiments play an important role in providing both sides with confidence in a solution’s worthiness and to forecast results, he advised.Without testing a range of solutions—multitudes of hard tags, spider wraps, and the like—and without data on how they impact shrink and sales, “then we can’t understand what works,” said Monnin. “We test them and then share the solutions to build a more robust solutions matrix.”Stakeholder InvolvementA successful product protection partnership with a manufacturer can occasionally hinge on luck—right time, right ask. But as for elements that LP can influence, making sure merchant teams aren’t blind to inventory shrink and gaining their support is critical.John Doggette, LPC“The key to success is when our merchants rally behind an effort,” said John Doggette, LPC, director of LP merchandise shrink solutions and analytics at Lowe’s, in discussing a recent success story in which a large manufacturer stepped up to fund a new product protection solution. “For LP, if you don’t have a robust relationship with buyers, if you’re not training them and have a program for that, then you can’t expect things to get done. You need the buyer to be an advocate for the proposed solution.”At Lowe’s, Doggette said his team has worked hard to impress upon merchants that LP’s goal is to increase on-shelf availability, overall sales, and ultimately profit-and not act as a roadblock. “It starts with relationship building and having a dedicated person or a team of people whose sole purpose is to work with merchants,” advised Doggette. “A large retailer may have hundreds of buyers, so you need a retail LP organization that has someone on staff, if not a team, that is directly responsible for interfacing with buyers and for providing them with the data and analytics they need.”Lowe’s has dedicated staff members whose role is to interface with buyers from an LP lens, and their responsibilities include attending high-shrink merchandise division merchant meetings. In this way, the LP organization has insight into emerging developments. The LP-merchant liaisons also participate when merchants conduct product line reviews, playing an advisory role as the subject-matter experts around shrinkage and returns for the product category.Finally, the LP team members worked alongside the LPRC to create a training module on inventory shrink for merchants that is hosted on the company’s online learning center. “So now if you are hired into Lowe’s as a buyer, or need occasional refresher training, the course work is part of your training so that you learn fundamentals about inventory shrink and, more importantly, what you can do to reduce it.”Bill InzeoThe merchant relationship has also been a focus for the AP team at Walgreens. “One of the things we’ve done effectively to work with merchant teams is to integrate shrink and waste metrics into the process for analyzing performance and for which products to carry,” explained Bill Inzeo, director of asset protection solutions. “So it’s no longer just looking at sales and gross. Shrink and waste are now included in that decision-making process.”Erik ButtlarTo arrive at the right merchandising strategy—one that is both driving sales and reducing loss—information sharing between merchants and asset protection should be a two-way street, advised Erik Buttlar, vice president of asset protection at Best Buy. Just as merchants need to understand protection strategies, AP needs to appreciate the sales imperative. “You don’t want to unnecessarily slow down transactions or make them more complex,” he said. “It’s not doing things to the customer but for the customer.”Efforts by LP to strengthen relationships with merchant teams surely please Professor DeHoratius. She coauthored a report for the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) on the subject, Opportunities & Challenges for Engaging Merchants in the Protection of Retail Assets. [For an excellent summary of the study, see Chris Trlica’s article in the September-October 2015 issue of LP Magazine.]Among other important lessons, DeHoratius said that her research has shown that an LP approach strictly focused on getting manufacturers to put tags on high-theft items can miss larger issues at play. “Our research has shown that many discrepancies in the inventory record are not solely attributable to theft. Instead, it’s about transaction errors, errors in delivery orders, and other operational issues that arise,” she said. Broadly, her research has led her to believe that LP discounts nonmalicious causes of shrink, while shrink caused by theft is overemphasized. “It’s not all about locking up products,” she advised. “Solutions should be focused on ‘how do I prevent the discrepancies that are impacting operations and sales?’”The issue is also broader than LP and buyers. That relationship is critical, but it is just one aspect of a larger ecosystem on the retailer’s side that requires proper alignment. LP, merchants, store operations, sales incentives—they all need to work together for retailers to work effectively with vendors, according to DeHoratius.After a challenging shrink year at GameStop in 2017, and with the company transitioning into collectibles and other merchandise, the company saw value in meeting more frequently and proactively on shrink issues. The internal partnering and communication has been very successful, according to GameStop’s Adam Alford. For more than six months, the company has held biweekly committee meetings to talk about shrink issues, testing, ideas, and high-risk product launches. The meetings include key department heads and representatives from inventory control; loss prevention; head merchants from collectibles, video games, and other key product categories; general counsel; and vice presidents of store operations, IT, and business planning and analytics. “The goal is to drive awareness around shrink and to bring up issues and discuss solutions,” said Alford. “It also reinforces the issue of shrink for merchants so that they can go to a vendor for new packaging or new fixtures and know that everyone is really behind it.”Monnin sees the same imperative for inclusiveness on the manufacturer’s side of the aisle, with operations leaders engaging with sales people. That team can then engage in collaboration with a retailer’s team, including buyers and LP. “There have to be bridges across all these different groups for effective collaboration,” she said. Specifically, Monnin thinks multifunctional meetings are critical when theft problems arise, where retailers bring in their team, including LP experts, and manufacturers include asset protection, operations leaders, analysts, and product supply people. “You need to have more people than just the category buyer and the sales person. There needs to be a more expansive meeting of many stakeholders in order to build the trust that leads to data sharing and collaborative solutions that fit a retailer’s LP strategy, and for store operations to be effective.”External forums also play a useful role in facilitating solution sharing, according to industry leaders, such as Checkpoint Systems’ annual National Source Tagging Symposium (May 22) and the RILA annual conference. RB’s Rich Widup sat on the steering committee for RILA’s 2018 Retail Asset Protection Conference and said the involvement has been invaluable to his effort to work with retail partners. “Not only to hear where their pain points are but also to have open and honest discussions about solutions and to come up with creative ideas,” he said. “That has been really key from our perspective.”The LPRC boasts fifty-five major retail chain members, sixty-five solutions companies, and a half-dozen manufacturer members, including P&G. “Being involved in LPRC is valuable for building relationships, and in identifying what works, and for research that I can take back to my company and make people aware of,” said Monnin. LP directors said they see similar benefits on their end-learning about solutions that their peers are coordinating on with manufacturers and passing those ideas onto to their merchant teams.Doggette sees similar value—Lowe’s is also an LPRC member—and he hopes that the LPRC can provide a successful venue for addressing the traditional ad hoc approach to product protection. He believes that the LPRC is the key to bridge the gap between retailers, “so we can work with manufacturers on solutions that will work for everyone.”It’s a common sentiment that retailers don’t align with respect to the product protection they ask for from vendors—with one retailer asking for one thing and another for something else. Bill Inzeo expressed similar sympathy for manufacturers’ need to serve many of their retail partners and thinks joint data collection/sharing provides another way for retailers to broaden cooperation. The company participated in a data collection effort lead by Checkpoint Systems to provide manufacturers with anonymized, item-level theft data from a group of retailers, a fresh take at cooperation that he thought worked pretty well. “Retailers need to work together to enable the manufacturers to be more supportive,” he said. “And this allowed us to approach them with a more uniformed ask for support.”Together into the FutureNo one seems to believe truly universal product protection solutions are viable today, but there is yearning on both the manufacturer and retailer side for additional uniformity, answers that can be applied more widely across retail channels. There seems to be, on both sides, certain weariness to product-by-product protection solutions.There is also a sense that while relationships are the central component of effective collaboration between manufacturers and LP organizations, mechanisms to encourage it could improve. Widup, for example, is a passionate advocate for current avenues of partnership but also wishes it were easier to share alert-type information between the two groups, to provide a heads-up on emerging theft issues and problems, for example. “I do wish we had more tools available for that kind of thing. What we have now is not really fast enough to keep pace with the accelerating timeline of threats,” he said.There is an idea, too, that while current deliberate processes are effective, LP and manufacturer partners might benefit from faster, more experimental approaches. “We’ve got to improve our comfort level with working with more leading-edge, start-up like service providers, and provide them the opportunity to test their products in a live environment and to be willing to create partnerships with them,” said Inzeo. “It is critical because the environment is changing so quickly that we don’t always have the time to go through the traditional phases of test, deploy, and roll out and to wait for scalable solutions. I think we have to identify and implement solutions much more rapidly.”Keith McUmberAs an efficient, cost-saving process, one that provides benefits to both retailers and product manufacturers, source tagging remains a dominant force in product protection. But even in the tried-and-true, there is change. Keith McUmber, director of source tagging at Checkpoint Systems, said a developing trend is to move source tags from inside product boxes to outside, where they are visible to potential thieves, as belief is waning in the “halo effect,” the idea that hidden tags on some products make thieves fear tags on all products and thus prevent theft more generally. Tests of visible source tagging “has showed some dramatic shrink results and lift in sales for chain drug stores,” said McUmber.Renee Micek, a sales specialist at Avery Dennison, said she’s seen manufacturers increasingly sourcing UHF RFID because more retailers are mandating it to be put onto their products to help with traceability throughout their supply chains.DeHoratius also sees opportunity in going after mistakes, rather than crooks. “A reason why we see a lot of discrepancies is because there are not sufficient visual cues on packaging, cues that simplify and make it easy to distinguish, easy to count, track, and reorder.” A solution, then, is getting vendors to think about imposing visual cues to prevent problems. For example, Columbia Sportswear ships shirts in a colored container to match the color of the shirts inside it. Or perhaps a maker of deodorant can make a different color cap for each different fragrance. These are simple ideas that can help to reduce costly errors. More broadly, DeHoratius said her research points to a few keys to reducing shrink: reduce product variety; reduce inventory density; increase the frequency of audits, particularly smart audits, to utilize an inventory record that is not simply a point estimate but rather a distribution that can shift and adjust based on transactions over time.Inzeo, like many LP leaders, is anxiously awaiting solutions providers to embrace the “huge opportunity” that exists to deliver the next breakthrough solution—the one that carries manufacturers and LP forward. He suggested that hard solutions, such as boxes around products, aren’t really a great fit for how retail is rapidly transforming generally, that benefit denial is a terrific concept but that it can’t be applied to a tube of lipstick, and that there is less sense today in the industry that tags are the answer. “I don’t really see the EAS pedestal as being the solution that carries us all into the future,” Inzeo said. The extent to which tags are relied upon in the future could depend on retail’s perception of organized retail crime. In a 2016 survey by Colin Peacock of 107 global retailers, 72 percent of respondents said hard tags are “very/extremely effective” against opportunistic thieves, but only 16 percent felt that way about the technology’s effectiveness with respect to organized thieves.While Inzeo isn’t sure what the answer is, he knows what he needs: a solution that improves on-shelf availability, can scale to 20,000 items, and doesn’t demand additional work from the store team, or better yet, removes some. As a priority for Walgreens AP, product availability is supplanting theft prevention-a consequence of the online effect. “In many cases today, that’s the whole reason people come into a physical store—it’s because they need ‘it’ now. And if we don’t have the product on the shelf, then we have missed the opportunity to meet that customer’s immediate need.”To fit that objective, he wondered if the next leap forward is a theft deterrent or something more aimed at on-shelf availability. “Cosmetics is a great example. There isn’t a fixture for a tube of lipstick, so the solution may be about, first, how do we leverage store team presence to deter theft and then to make sure we’re laser-focused on inventory accuracy, so we have product for the customer when they need it. By virtue of that accuracy, we’ll also have accurate insights into what we’re losing. The loss is undesirable, but if we at least know it occurred, we can get product back on the shelf for the customer, quickly.”Inzeo is intrigued by the idea of shelf pads that could automatically identify and count whatever product sits on it, and he is “cautiously optimistic” about blockchain technology. The tracking capabilities that blockchain promises “seems fantastic,” but he wondered if it could face hurdles similar to RFID in terms of scalability and implementation. There’s no end to the power of the insights retailer data has within it, and Walgreens is constantly exploring new ways to leverage those insights, expose them to their merchant, operations, and LP teams, and drive actions that improve product availability for the customer, according to Inzeo. “From a product standpoint, nothing’s more important than making sure we have it when that customer walks into our store. That’s why they’re there. They need it now.”Where, exactly, LP should place its bet is elusive. “We’re engaging with merchant teams and working directly with manufacturers. We’re at the table with the category manager having those exact conversations-can you put an EAS tag on it, or fund a fixture, or should we be talking about some other funding mechanism to help us with loss?” he asked. But what it all comes down to-and what still seems unclear to Inzeo and many others-is, “If I had a blank check from P&G, what’s the next disruptive solution I would spend it on?” Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more

What Does a Loss Prevention Associate Do?

first_imgLoss prevention—also known as asset protection—is an ever-broadening, ever-growing field that has a lot to offer an entry-level job seeker. According to the Loss Prevention Foundation, the industry’s “wide spectrum of career options and tremendous potential for professional growth” make the job a rare find in today’s labor market. And the projected job growth—5 to 8 percent between 2014 and 2024—is on par with other industries, according to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). It’s worth a closer look. But just what does a loss prevention associate do, anyway?Industry OverviewLoss prevention was once primarily responsible for the physical security of a retail space. LP once used to guard exit doors and stop shoplifters. However, many people are still under the misconception that this is still the LP associate’s dominant function, which is far from the case today.Contemporary loss prevention professionals still maintain responsibility for retail security. But they also must handle employee theft issues, data protection, safety and risk management, inventory audits, legal compliance, and matters related to organized retail crime and fraud. It’s more appropriate to say that loss prevention has evolved into a core business function that plays a crucial role in protecting the profits of the world’s largest retailers.- Sponsor – As an early-career associate, the loss prevention associate job description may not include all of these functions right away. Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize from the outset that such responsibilities eventually fall under the domain of the loss prevention department in many organizations. If an entry-level job seeker chooses to progress and grow in an LP career, he or she will want to be aware of and conversant with all these business areas. It’s never too soon to start learning about them.What Does a Loss Prevention Associate Do? Job Titles and ResponsibilitiesGenerally, an entry-level job title in LP is the “loss prevention associate.” However, the evolution of the field and responsibilities contained therein means that titles can change to reflect that. Alternative titles for entry-level LP jobs could include:Loss prevention and safety specialistAsset protection specialistLoss prevention agentLoss prevention security guardRecovery associateJob parameters for a loss prevention associate will vary depending on the particular retail organization. However, by and large, all loss prevention associates are expected to work in harmony with the rest of the retail team to achieve store objectives for preventing theft and ensuring safety. Sometimes LP associates assist in processing inventory and merchandise returns as well.A careful review of recent job postings for loss prevention associates on LPjobs.com—the premier job board for loss prevention postions—reveals that the role can entail some combination of the following responsibilities:Provide quality customer service and positive shopping experiences to deter theft.Respond to customer and associate incidents where safety and/or company liability may be concerned.Work with investigators or other LP/AP team members to investigate criminal violations and/or recover stolen merchandise.Monitor inventory shrinkage and follow company procedure to minimize shrink.Perform store surveillance as directed by management, such as maintaining focus on areas of visible shrink.Verify accuracy of merchandise returns.Prepare and maintain comprehensive and accurate documentation for inventory, merchandise returns, customer accidents, apprehensions and recoveries, and more.Perform minor repairs around the store.Learn proper safety procedures and train other store associates on these and other LP-related issues, such as inventory control processes.Maintain store monitoring technology and equipment.Review surveillance video and exception reports for possible incidents of theft or fraud.Understand and maintain rigorous compliance with the law and company policy regarding apprehensions, searches and seizures, and the preservation of evidence.Detect and apprehend shoplifters if dictated by company policy.Conduct safety checks and report any hazardous or unsafe activity to management on duty immediately.Successfully complete all asset protection/loss prevention training requirements and certification courses and keep credentials up to date.More InformationA decade or two ago, early-career loss prevention associates did not have many educational resources available to them. They just didn’t exist. Today’s LP associates can access webinars, college programs, and even resources like LP Magazine and the certification courses through Loss Prevention Foundation to gain a better understanding about how the industry works and how LP fits into the bigger picture of business in the retail environment.The answer to the question “What does a loss prevention associate do?” will vary, but entry-level applicants who spend time understanding the job, the retail organization, and the challenges specific to both will find a great deal of opportunity in this space.This article was originally published in 2016 and was updated May 10, 2019.  Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more

How to Own Your Startup’s Niche

first_imgscott gerber 3. Mind the Gap!When you describe your business to someone, they need to “get” it immediately. Beyond that, if your concept brings up a recent situation in which they could have used your service, you’ve really got something! In London, when you ride the tube, a recorded message comes on cautioning riders to “mind the gap.” This is because the gap is big enough to fall into! When you’re developing your offering, the solution needs to be in a space with a gap wide enough to fall into – and stay there. It’s almost impossible to base a business on doing exactly what the other established players are doing. Sure, a niche product isn’t going to be proven, but the opportunity to cause a splash is much greater. – Joe Cassara, You Need My Guy How to Make the Most of Your Software Developer… 4. Choose to Serve a Niche AudienceGiven the proliferation of companies and the easy cross-comparison on the Web, it’s very difficult to create an entirely new product or service. Therefore, I think it’s best to focus on making yourself the go-to person for a certain audience. That niche could be a profession like dentists, or a region like the Pacific Northwest, or a certain type of person, such as young professionals taking on greater responsibilities at home and at work. Whomever you decide to target, you want to become the No. 1 company in your market, and not lose focus by worrying too much about startups that target other audiences. – Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E Related Posts Kickstarting a Stagnant Company There are a lot of consumer-facing Web startups out there—maybe too many. Now that it’s easier, faster and cheaper to launch a Web business than ever before, entrepreneurs are under increasing pressure to differentiate. Great design and even great service just aren’t enough anymore. The key is to establish a niche that’s narrow enough to own—but broad enough to support a successful business.To find out how startups today are leveraging their niches to stand out from the competition, we asked a panel of seven successful young entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) for their take: 1. Create a Blue Ocean StrategyThe best way to find the market and product offering that hasn’t been done to death is to analyze the existing products that are out there already. This means looking at the competition and cataloging what all of the existing Web startups have in common, so you can find ways to differentiate. The book Blue Ocean Strategy details how you can create a Strategy Canvas that allows you to map out the competition and find ways to differentiate in ways that make sense for your business. Don’t try to be different just for the sake of standing out. Really think through what you can eliminate, what you can add and how you can create a truly creative offer that helps more people. – Nathalie Lussier, Nathalie Lussier Media Tags:#start#startups 5. Rebrand Your Customer, Not Your ProductYour startup and business may start off as a niche. Over time, you can bet that competitors will enter, or may already be present. Therefore, startups should constantly analyze and frequently change their marketing campaign to maintain their niches. Bring about new ways to create the comparison. Some ideas include offering a free trial period, creating viral campaigns that allow users to engage with your product, and constantly building a niche market. The question is, “How do you maintain and build another niche market from your already existing one?” I don’t recommend changing your product. I suggest relabeling your customers; this may make users want to become more involved. Take airlines, for example; they created status levels to allow their users to compete and engage further. – George Mavromaras, Mavro Inc. | Praetor Global LLC What Nobody Teaches You About Getting Your Star… 2. Put Your Branding to WorkEstablishing a competitive niche is getting harder and harder every day, and consumers are paying less attention to comparisons between companies that do the same thing. They expect your product to work, and they expect your product to have all of the features and functions the next product does. What can help your startup stand out is spending time working on your branding. If you can connect with your audience on more levels than your competitors, you’ll ultimately be able to make it about consumers choosing your brand, not your niche. – Caitlin McCabe, Real Bullets Branding 6. The Power of InformationFinding a laser-focused niche is a main component to success online. To stand out from your competition, you need to become the authority in your market. There is no easier way to do that then to niche down to the most basic service or product offering. The easiest way to win over a client is for your site to show a level of expertise above and beyond that of the competition. However, if you offer too much your customer will seek other avenues of education (in the buying process). Offer just the right amount and they will commit to your offering. It is much easier to upsell a current customer then it is to gain a new one. – Roger Bryan, RCBryan & Associates 7. Let the Community SpeakA major way you can stand out from your competition is by allowing your customers to become a part of your organization. Give them a voice. Ask for their input. Engage with them as much as possible to make them feel special. If they’re comfortable with your brand, they’ll know who to keep coming back to in the future. – Logan Lenz, EndagonThe Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprising the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment. WordPress for Enterprise – How This Open-…last_img read more

What Nobody Teaches You About Getting Your Startup Off the Ground

first_imgPrepare for Hard Work Trends Driving the Loyalty Marketing Industry Digital marketing: Marketing represents a fundamental business component. This goes for all types of companies, from global corporations to the smallest startups (even the ones of essay writers community or online assignment help service). However, not too many entrepreneurs will warn you to accumulate enough funds for marketing activities. Generally speaking, there are two ways to promote your startup: Form a Good Team Okay, so you’ve come up with this incredible product idea and now want to make a fortune selling it? That is totally fine, but we strongly encourage you to ask yourself one question – is there enough demand for this item?Over 40% of businesses that failed listed a lack of market need as a contributing factor. This is actually the main cause of startup failures, so make sure do the research and test customers’ preferences before launching a business. Competitors are too strong and impossible to outperform Ignoring customers and their demands Running out of cash and not being able to finance the project anymore China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … You Are Not Alone A lot of startups don’t want to bother with traditional marketing formats, but it would be a big mistake if you are running a local business and targeting customers from the neighborhood. In this case, we strongly suggest using promo mechanisms such as events and print, radio, and TV advertising. There Is No Market Need for the Product Startup owners are mostly solo performers who want to take care of everything single-handedly, but this is not how the real-world business works. Instead of being an all-around player, you should form a good team of trustworthy professionals.For instance, you will hire a lawyer for legal affairs, a marketer to run campaigns, an expert writer to write website content, a sales manager to attract customers, etc. Let us be clear about one thing straight away — running a startup is difficult. No matter what people tell you, rest assured you are going to deal with lots of problems, including financial issues, deadlines, mental pressure, and so on.Although startups give you that much-needed level of professional independence, they also make you fully responsible for everything. This can be a heavy burden for most entrepreneurs, so do your best to prepare for the challenge and get used to being the person in charge of everything. As a startup owner, you must take these issues into account and prepare well to avoid failure. Running a Startup Is Difficult Startups Really Fail The last thing we want to tell you is to prepare for hard work 365 days a year. As a startup owner, you need to keep things under control around the clock, so you can forget about traditional 9-to-5 work. It is all up to you, so get out there and do your best to build a profitable business.ConclusionCreating your own business can be an excellent career opportunity, but only if you invest enough time and efforts into market research. You have to get it all covered, from business plan to customer service strategy, if you want to make a successful story and start earning some real money.But in order to do so, you need to learn both sides of the startup story. In this article, we explained what nobody taught you about getting your startup off the ground.Do you plan to launch a startup? Have you ever thought about the details mentioned above? Please read and reread. I want to help you. You Need a Business Plan Michael Gorman This solution is perfect for service-oriented companies doing most of the work online. Digital marketing grants you exposure to over two-thirds of the global population via emails, websites, and social media. Related Posts Marketing Is Fundamental Launching a startup seems like the most promising business opportunity for creative individuals who don’t want to drive down traditional career roads. This is exactly why startups are flourishing worldwide, flooding every niche from home services to online retail. Here is what nobody teaches you about getting your startup off the ground.Every Startup Isn’t SuccessfulOn the contrary, studies prove that 90% of startups fail due to the broad scope of problems. It’s a serious figure that should make you curious and willing to learn more about the whole process before launching your own business.While the Internet is packed with positive articles and success stories, there are still so many downsides and issues that you need to understand. In this post, we will explain nine things that nobody teaches you about getting your startup off the ground. While you really are the only person responsible for the startup, don’t think that you are completely alone out there. The Internet hosts hundreds of startup-oriented forums and communities that you can join to find out precious information about the business. It’s impossible to mention every single community currently available online, but some of our favorite picks include Startup Grind, Growth Hackers, and Reddit. Most people think that all it takes to run a startup is an excellent idea for a new type of product or service. You will hardly ever hear someone telling you that the idea is just the beginning of the process because now you need to design a comprehensive business plan.Jake Gardner, a finance analyst at Nerdywriters and My Assignment Help says a business plan represents a core document: “It’s a step-by-step guide that describes your business goals, the mechanisms to reach them, as well as the timeframe needed to fulfill these objectives.” Traditional marketing: Michael Gorman offers assignment help for students in need. He currently works for custom coursework writing service and Bestessays Uk. In his free time, Michael enjoys writing blog posts that help people become the best version of themselves and his biggest goal in life is to discover the world’s greatest mysteries. Michael’s passion is to travel the world and capture the world’s most amazing and stunning places with his camera. He can be reached on his Facebook and Twitter profiles. Not preparing a feasible marketing strategy Create an Attractive Website How OKR’s Completely Transformed Our Culture We mentioned this one before, but it’s impossible to overestimate startup failure rates. The vast majority of startups fail because they can’t handle one or multiple business problems, with the usual suspects being as follows: A startup without a website is like a man with no identity documents. Therefore, you must design a good-looking website to host digital guests and present your company’s portfolio.Jason Matthews, a great web analyst, says the site should contain the basic information about your team: “Besides that, it needs a list of products, contact details, and a blog with the latest industry news and relevant articles. Of course, don’t hesitate to add anything else that your target audience might consider important.” How to Make the Most of Your Software Developer…last_img read more

Trump looks for win in NKorea summit

first_img(AP) – President Donald Trump will head into his second meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un lowering expectations for Pyongyang’s denuclearization while eager to declare a flashy victory to offset the political turmoil he faces at home.Trump was the driving force behind this week’s Vietnam summit, aiming to re-create the global spectacle of his first meeting with Kim, although that initial summit yielded limited results and the months that followed left many questions about what will be achieved in the sequel.Trump once warned that North Korea’s arsenal posed such a threat to humanity that he may have no choice but to rain “fire and fury” on the rogue nation, yet last week he declared that he was in “no rush” for Pyongyang to prove it was abandoning its weapons.last_img read more

Change of Heart Cavs Rehire Mike Brown as Head

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown talks with sports journalist Chris Mannix about how excited he is to coach the Cavs next season. Brown also talks about Kyrie Irving’s potential and where he ranks with the top point-guards in the league.Mannix questioned Brown about Anthony Bennet as the first round draft pick.Brown replied, “We look at his talent level. Not only his talent level, but the upside, and his character and the versatility and athleticism. When you combine all that he brings to the table he has a very high ceiling.”The Cavs fired Brown three years ago, shocking the league as he had coached the Cavs to the first conference finals in the team’s history. read more

You Asked We Answer A Holiday Mail Bag From The Lab

Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On this week’s show (Dec. 27, 2017), Neil, Chris and Kyle are opening the mail bag to answer their favorite questions from listeners. Which team or player has been the biggest surprise so far? Which team stands to improve most in the second half of the season based on the stats? Who will regress to the mean? We get into all those and more.Here are links to what was discussed this week:Keep an eye on our 2017-18 NBA predictions, updated after every game.Kyle on why LeBron is still getting better.Chris on how the last-place Bulls became the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. Embed Code More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed By Neil Paine, Chris Herring and Kyle Wagner read more

Works Minister Tendering process transparent contractors to adhere to strict rules

first_img Related Items: #MagneticMediaNews Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppBahamas, July 10th 2017 :Works Minister, Desmond Bannister is vowing to ensure government engages in “true” and “transparent” tendering practices for contracts. Addressing the Bahamian Contractors’ Association, the minister says the tendering process for contracts will be strictly adhered to, and affirmed that he is not interested in issuing contracts like “candy at a child’s party.”The minister did not mince on his words to the association as he told those gathered “You are either registered and qualified to participate in the process or you are not”. Minister Bannister says “Unqualified and unregistered individuals will not be considered. All bids will be considered and properly evaluated, and the winning bidder will be the one that provides the best value for the people’s money.  This Minister will not interfere with due process. Nor will we tolerate shoddy work.”His comments come after reports of substandard works done at BAMSI on the part of a contractor which resulted in a fire at one of its dormitories.The Minister urged the contractors to keep abreast of advertisements in the newspapers for invitations to bid, requests for proposal, and expressions of interest.Meanwhile, the Works Minister announced how government intends to engage in public/ private partnership model for the office complex planned for Tonique Williams Darling Highway. He says government’s investment in the project will be minimal as it intends to give preference shares in the ownership of the company that will own the building, making it commercially viable.center_img Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApplast_img read more