When it comes to retail, very few business owners want to consider the unthinkable – that they may one day fall victim to theft or criminal damage, or that they could be targeted by cybercriminals. The consequences of such crimes are absolutely devastating, and can involve the loss of stock and revenue, reduced trading time and even tarnished reputations.

The number of threats facing modern business may seem daunting, but no business can afford to ignore them. So, how can business owners and managers protect their businesses?

Taking security seriously

One of the biggest threats to store security is complacency. Businesses assume such a thing could never happen to them, which can prove to be a costly mistake. As such, measures should be taken regardless of how safe a store appears to be. Owners and managers must identify any risks posed to their premises. What could be stolen? Are there any failings in security that could leave the business open to attack?

By learning to recognise risks, such as administration errors, predictable routines and weak passwords, you will be one step nearer to safeguarding your store. Education is vital; employers and employees must learn how to identify threats, and how to take the initiative and tackle security issues themselves, rather expecting someone else to do it.

Creating an unwelcome environment for criminals

Prevention is better than a cure, which is why business store owners should endeavour to create an environment that deters criminals altogether. Plenty of lighting, regardless of the time of night or day, security cameras and mirrors that enable staff to see each corner of the shop will go a long way to deterring would-be thieves, while alarms and motion sensors will ensure that premises pose a challenge to even experienced criminals.

Store owners should also consider security tagging their merchandise, putting up signs warning that thieves will be reported to the police, employing additional shopfloor staff or a security team, and fitting storefronts with shutters or screens.

Store layouts should also be carefully planned to ensure high-risk stock is kept in areas that are frequented by staff and patrons throughout the day; not every means of deterring criminals has to be high-tech.

Be open to action

Business stores must be able to act should the worst happen, enabling them to return to trading as soon as possible, and begin the process of recouping losses. An up-to- date insurance policy, which will cover vendors for acts of vandalism, theft of property and cybercrimes, makes sure store owners can carry out emergency shop front repairs in the event an attack has left their premises unsafe, prone to further damage or unsecure.

It also allows them to replace broken windows and unsecure fixtures, invest in stronger security and regain profit or stock that has been lost.

Store owners should also consider backing up important data, such as saving client databases to secure cloud networks or on a portable high drive that isn’t kept on the premises, and procuring backups for crucial equipment, such as card readers.

Above all, business stores must be prepared to learn from their mistakes in the event of a security breach, and analyse how security procedures have failed and what could be done to improve them.

Considering confidentiality clauses

Staff members should be required to sign security waivers, social media disclaimers and data protection policies when they come on board, and should be properly debriefed during exit interviews; while trust between employee and employer is vital in running a successful business store, so too is a realisation that such measures are often necessary.

These documents ensure employees know what information, areas and equipment they have access to and why, and detail the penalties for improper conduct or mishandling data; this goes a long way in ensuring customer data is safeguarded and that employees know where they stand.

Protecting finances

Checking bank notes as they’re handed over, comparing signatures to those on cards, recognising stolen or cloned cards, and quickly identifying other suspect methods of payment should become second nature to business store owners and their staff.

The best way for business stores of any size to secure profits is to take responsibility for the handling of money. Under-counter security, safes for storing cash until it can be banked, a secure means of transporting cash from the premises to the bank, and a rigorously-kept record of all transactions are among the only ways to prevent opportunistic and organised theft.

It’s also imperative for business stores to change the designated password on card readers as soon as they’re allocated; one default password is used on many of these devices, which could be overwritten during a hacking attempt.

Prepare for cybercrime

Security measures shouldn’t end with the bricks and mortar of stores themselves; it should extend to business store websites and social media accounts too. Protection against cyber- attacks is essential, as they have the power to disrupt business as much as vandalism or the physical theft of goods.

Those taking their stores online should do so via a secure platform and reputable web host, and familiarise themselves with encryption and secure networks, avoiding accessing the internet via unsecured wireless connections, and ensure connections are password protected.

Databases containing customer data should be cleared as regularly as possible, and the details encrypted. All passwords, regardless of whether they for a safe, an online account or payment system, should be altered regularly, and kept off public access networks where they could be compromised.

Modern criminals are incredibly sophisticated when it comes to hacking other cybercrimes; business store owners must be vigilant, seek education and constantly monitor who has access to computers, online accounts and databases.

Stay on top of business

Business store managers and owners should ensure they stay on top things in order to remain vigilant for security threats. Inventory management and regular stock takes are vital for monitoring what should be on the premises at any given time, while paperwork should be correctly filed and stored to prevent identify fraud and theft of intellectual property.

It is so easy for such simple details to be disregarded, and yet these oversights could cost a business store stock, trading time or even the livelihood of the owner and staff; now is the time to take stock of security, and for owners and managers to ensure the correct procedures are in place.

From employing security guards and installing CCTV, to preparing loss prevention frameworks and endeavouring to stay on top of stock, there are numerous ways business stores can act against security risks.

While action to prevent crime, and to handle the fallout following an incident, are vital, so too is awareness; without first familiarising themselves with the tactics employed by criminals, or the areas in which security could be improved, business store owners can’t hope to safeguard themselves correctly.