Shoplifters can cost retailers serious money.

According to experts, theft is one of the costliest and most ubiquitous problems retailers face. In Checkpoint Systems’ latest “Global Retail Theft Barometer”, released last October, the total industry cost of shrinkage was $42 billion for the year covered in the report.

As such, retail organizations face an uphill battle when it comes to reducing the incidence of shoplifting and strengthening the bottom line. Not only do they have to deal with unscrupulous customers, dishonest employees also contribute to the financial burden caused by product loss. Per Checkpoint Systems’ report, virtually every type of store faced this problem in one form or another.

This fact highlights the idea that retailers of all stripes should consider the usage of the latest technological tools to deter shrinkage, including electronic article surveillance and custom point of sales systems. Radio Frequency Identifications (RFID) systems can also be an important tool in this effort, as they allow retailers to track items even when they are not in the store. This means that even if a customers has successfully made it off-premises with an unpaid-for item, the vendor does not have to write if off as a loss and can eventually recover the pilfered item.

Retailers can also use monitoring tools to evaluate their stores in real time. Closed circuit televisions can be used both at the point of sale and on the sales floor, and can be integrated with facial recognition software that prevents repeat offenders from entering undetected. By combining these sorts of methods with insight into inventory whereabouts, they can do everything in their power to reduce the impact of shrinkage and increase profitability.