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Focus on: Loss Prevention

RF technology shores up shrink for Books-A-Million
Books-A-Million has already seen a positive impact in terms of merchandise recoveries from its new loss-prevention program.

Despite the challenges in its category, Birmingham, Ala.-based book retailer Books-A-Million has embarked on an aggressive growth plan that added 41 new units to its store count in October and November 2011. The expansion, which put the 250-store retailer squarely in the No. 2 bookseller slot after Borders’ liquidation earlier in the year, has been accompanied by a newly honed focus on improving its loss-prevention program system-wide.

Books-A-Million teamed with shrink management supplier Checkpoint Systems, Philadelphia, to implement a loss-prevention solution focused around electronic article surveillance (EAS).

Rolled out in about 90 stores initially, the Books-A-Million implementation involves Checkpoint antennas located at the doors of each participating store, which detect radio frequency circuits on paper tags throughout the units.

By combining radio frequency technology with Checkpoint’s energy-saving ECO electronics brand of antennas, along with robust communications and remote alarm data-capture, the system maximizes loss-prevention effectiveness.

Books-A-Million is also using Checkpoint’s Alpha Keepers & Mini Spider Wraps with an RF circuit to protect DVDs. If the tagged product is not deactivated at the point of purchase or the DVD Keeper or wrap is not removed, the product will alarm the antennas, alerting store personnel that someone is attempting to take products without purchasing them.

“The system provides both deterrence and detection,” according to Chad Tice, VP loss prevention at Books-A-Million. The physical presence of the antennas at the door, and the tags, wraps and keepers on products, provide deterrence. The system provides detection if someone tries to leave the store with unpaid merchandise.’

The new system is already seeing positive results.

“Our mix of legacy loss prevention systems wasn’t well suited for books and didn’t enable us to utilize source tagging for greater efficiencies and a better customer experience,” Tice said. “We made a capital investment with Checkpoint because it provided a superior plug-and-play solution, has a national footprint and offers dedicated in-house experts who provide quality implementation results on a consistent basis. In fact, we’ve already seen an immediate impact by generating merchandise recoveries and expect a positive impact on shrink.”

A second phase of program implementation is scheduled for the first quarter of 2012, and will introduce the system to 50 additional Books-A-Million stores.

kfield@chainstoreage.com

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