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Study: Retail ‘shrink’ decreased to $46.8B in 2017

BY Antoinette Alexander

Thefts, fraud and losses from other retail “shrink” decreased to $46.8 billion in 2017 from $48.9 billion the year before as shoplifting and organized retail crime continued to be the leading causes, according to the annual National Retail Security Survey released by the National Retail Federation and the University of Florida.

“Retailers are making progress in combating criminal activity, but there are still many challenges,” said NRF vice president of loss prevention Bob Moraca. “Whether the threat is coming from cybersecurity, organized retail crime or employee theft, the job for retail security teams continues to become more difficult every day, especially when resources and staff are limited.”

According to the report, shrink averaged 1.33 percent of sales, down from 1.44 percent the year before. A total of 59 percent of retailers surveyed said shrink was flat or decreasing, up from 51 percent. Only 41 percent said shrink was growing, down from 49 percent. Shoplifting and organized retail crime were the most frequent causes, accounting for 36 percent of losses, followed by internal employee theft (33 percent), administrative paperwork errors (19 percent) and vendor fraud or mistake (6 percent).

The most substantial losses per incident came from retail robberies, at an average $4,237.02 each (down from $5,309.72 the year before), followed by employee theft at $1,203.16 (down from $1,922.80) and shoplifting/ORC at $559 (down from $798.48).

For the first time in the survey, retailers were asked about their role in combating cybercrime. Two-thirds of loss prevention executives said they meet at least quarterly with IT/cybersecurity counterparts to discuss potential threats, and 86 percent said their companies have a cybersecurity incident response plan in place.

“Cybersecurity concerns are top-of-mind for retailers today as criminals continue to become more sophisticated in this area,” said Richard Hollinger, a veteran University of Florida criminology professor and the lead author of the report. “This is a growing threat that will require more resources going forward. Retail executives need to invest more in loss prevention to reduce these losses to their bottom line.”

The survey of 63 loss prevention and asset protection professionals from a variety of retail sectors was conducted March 14 to April 13. The study is a partnership between Hollinger and NRF and sponsored by Appriss Retail.

 

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Survey: Consumers are frustrated with brand marketers

BY Antoinette Alexander

Despite marketers’ increased focus on targeting shoppers with personalized messaging, consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated by the mounds of irrelevant mass communications they are still receiving from brands, according to the findings of a recent survey.

The “Marketers Are on a Mission: The State of B2C Marketing” survey by SmarterHQ, Cheetah Digital, Liveclicker, and MailCharts asked hundreds of B2C digital marketers, spanning a number of industries, what tactics they’re using to reach customers, where they’re spending most of their marketing budget, and ways in which they’re leveraging technology to better target consumers.

“While ‘personalization’ has been a buzzword with marketers for years, it’s clear that brands have yet to master tailored messaging, as consumers are growing increasingly frustrated by generic communications that don’t align to their specific tastes, interests, or behaviors,” said Michael Osborne, CEO of SmarterHQ. “In a world where brands like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Walmart execute everything customer-related so well, marketers should strive to continuously deliver better individual experiences. To benchmark if brands’ marketing tactics are meeting the expectations of consumers, we went directly to marketers to ask about their 2018 marketing budgets, what tools they’re investing in, and if the dominance of Amazon has any impact on their marketing spend. Some of the takeaways are eye-opening, but one thing remains clear to us — ‘behavioral marketing’ should become the de facto standard to build brand loyalty and to help delight consumers.”

According to the survey, 70 percent of millennials are frustrated with receiving irrelevant emails, but brands are still sending mostly mass communications. And while all industries prioritize their marketing spend to drive traffic to online first, mobile second, and physical locations last, more than 50 percent of consumers are still doing their shopping in-store.

The survey, which included marketers from across industries including retail, financial services, travel & hospitality, higher education, and media, entertainment & telecom, also found that marketing investments and strategies varied by industry:

  • 79 percent of those in retail are investing in personalization tools, which is more than any other industry surveyed.
  • Travel and hospitality reports the highest shift toward tailored messaging, with 63 percent of their communications catered to individual customers versus mass marketing. Retail follows, with 38 percent of their marketing mix focused directly on individual shoppers.
  • Travel and hospitality, higher education, and financial services are investing in content marketing 63 percent more than other industries.

The top four priorities of B2C digital marketers:

Creating a more personalized customer experience: 51 percent of respondents said this was their top-ranked opportunity. “When it comes to personalization, data is paramount,” said Judd Marcello, executive vice president of global marketing for Cheetah Digital. “Customer data is typically underused or used inefficiently. It tells brands, especially retailers, so much about where they can improve or what their customers want, and they can use that data to make a big impact on their business.”

Increasing budgets to invest more in multichannel: The survey found that, this year alone, marketing budgets are increasing on average by 18 percent, with multichannel solutions as the top technology for investment. Respondents reported investing 26 percent more in multichannel than any other technology.

Sending more behavioral-based messages: 54 percent of respondents ranked email as the top ROI-driving channel, mostly because it remains the cheapest to implement and consistently produces the highest engagement. Respondents plan on sending 30 percent more behavioral emails compared with mass newsletters. Yet, millennials only want one to three marketing emails per month, but brands are sending eight to 10, and they plan on sending even more emails in the future. “Marketing teams are often short on resources,” said Carl Sednaoui, director of marketing for MailCharts. “A great way to launch your email personalization efforts it to understand what the best players out there are doing. By seeing exactly how the best companies nurture browse abandoners, cart abandoners, and recent purchasers, you’ll get a feel for what’s right for your own email program.”

Implementing strategies to compete with Amazon: 95 percent of retail marketers said the giant has significantly impacted their marketing plans. However, marketers in other industries aren’t as concerned, or in some cases concerned at all, by Amazon. With Amazon already moving into financial services, food delivery, and healthcare, it’s only a matter of time before they tackle other industries, too. “The most powerful weapon in any marketer’s arsenal is ‘activated’ customer data,” said Justin Foster, co-founder and vice president of market development for Liveclicker. “Activated data is not only the key to unlocking personalization potential; it provides every marketer with truly unique customer insights – insights that can’t be accessed by Amazon or any other competitors.”

 

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Study: Physicians want EHRs overhaul

BY Antoinette Alexander

American physicians want substantial improvements in the way electronic health records work, according to new research by Stanford Medicine, conducted by The Harris Poll.

In a poll conducted online of more than 500 primary care physicians, respondents expressed a range of views on the current state of EHRs, the impact EHRs have had on their professional satisfaction, and their potential as clinical tools. The results will be presented Monday at a national symposium hosted by Stanford Medicine, which will convene health leaders to discuss the future of EHR technology.

Physicians see value in EHRs, but want substantial improvement. According to the findings, 63 percent of physicians think EHRs have generally led to improved patient care, and 66 percent are at least somewhat satisfied with their current systems; however, a large portion see room for improvement.

  • 59 percent think EHRs need a complete overhaul
  • 40 percent believe there are more challenges with EHRs than benefits
  • Only 18 percent reported being “very satisfied” with their current systems

PCPs also had much to say on the impact that EHRs had on the quality of their work life. More than half reported that using an EHR detracts from their professional satisfaction and, more importantly, their clinical effectiveness. Even more agreed that EHR use contributed to the number of hours worked daily and believed that EHRs are a large contributing factor to the physician burnout crisis.

  • The majority of PCPs (54 percent) say using an EHR detracts from their professional satisfaction
  • Half (49 percent) think using an EHR detracts from their clinical effectiveness
  • Nearly three-quarters agree EHRs have increased the total number of hours they work daily (74 percent) and that EHRs greatly contribute to physician burnout (71 percent)

PCPs reported spending a disproportionate amount of time per visit interacting with EHR systems, and many believe that EHRs are competing with their patients for already limited time and attention. On average, over the course of a 20-minute in-person patient visit, PCPs reported spending 12 minutes interacting with the patient, and eight minutes interacting with the EHR system. This does not include another 11 minutes of EHR interaction once the patient visit had concluded.

  • 62 percent of time that PCPs devote to each patient is being spent in the EHR
  • 69 percent say using an EHR takes valuable time away from their patients
  • 69 percent believe EHRs have not strengthened their patient relationships

PCPs value EHRs primarily for data storage, not clinical abilities

Nearly half (44 percent) of PCPs report that the primary value of their EHR is data storage, compared to clinical abilities such as disease prevention/management (3 percent), clinical decision support (3 percent), and patient engagement (2 percent). These responses confirm that physicians largely see EHRs as a storage utility, rather than a clinical tool designed to help them improve patient care.

Ideas for improvement

Those polled believe EHR systems can be improved in the following ways:

Top three short term improvements:

  • 72 percent would like to see improved EHR user interface design to eliminate inefficiencies and reduce screen time
  • Almost half of PCPs (48 percent) would like to shift more EHR data entry to support staff
  • 38 percent would like to increase use of highly-accurate voice recording technology that acts as a scribe during patient visits

Top three long term improvements:

  • 67 percent think solving interoperability deficiencies in the next decade should be the focus
  • Nearly half (43 percent) want improved predictive analytics to support disease diagnosis, prevention, and population health management
  • Nearly one-third of PCPs (32 percent) indicate they would like to see the integration of financial information into the EHR to help patients understand the costs of their care options.

“EHRs have transformed how health care is documented in the U.S., but for all the information we’ve now captured digitally, we are rarely wiser as a result,” said Lloyd Minor, dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine. “Insights that could lead to better patient care or new medical discoveries remain buried within piles of disconnected data. Moreover, EHR use has eroded professional satisfaction among physicians. This national poll underscores what many physicians have felt for a while: their needs are not reflected enough in the design of these systems. Fixing the problem goes far beyond technology, and it will take many stakeholders working together to make EHRs more user-friendly and capable of achieving their true potential.”

 

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