With the holidays fast approaching, retailers are cooking up ways to draw big crowds. While drawing a crowd to generate sales is the event’s primary purpose, crowd safety should always be the top concern. But preparing for special events can be tricky, especially for the loss prevention professional who often must accept a given set of circumstances for the event and then manage it to ensure no security or safety breaches occur.
So how can retailers successfully plan for special events? The answer lies in getting involved early, according to Eric White, director of retail strategy, Wren, Jefferson City, Mo., which specializes in physical security technologies and services for retail, hospitality and other facilities.
“The earliest possible planning phase is the best time for LP to share their concerns and perspectives with the team, as they learn about others’ objectives,” White said. “LP professionals are creative and can work to improve the safety of just about any circumstance, as long as they have some lead time and the opportunity to be involved.”
Here are some suggestions from White on how a chain’s loss prevention department can contribute to the success of a crowded retail event:
- Work the crowd and communicate
There are two sides to working the crowd: “selling” and “enforcing.” The “seller” is there to befriend the crowd, build a positive relationship and provide helpful instructions. “We’re going to open the doors in 15 minutes.” “Please be patient and do not push.” “We need you to form two lines.” Whatever the case may be, the seller delivers instructions and projects the positive brand image of the retailer.
The “enforcer” needs to watch over the crowd for problems and address conflicts. His duties could be anything from dealing with line-cutting incidences to removing disruptive individuals to watching out for health emergencies in the crowd. By monitoring the crowd and addressing problems early, the enforcer can prevent incidents from boiling over and putting people at risk.
- Diffuse competitive situations
If only the first 100 customers receive a special discount, or if there are limited quantities available at a deep discount, the retailer has created a highly competitive situation. Sure, marketing does this to create a sense of urgency, but it is LP’s job to prevent customers from fighting. Smart LP pros know to issue armbands, pull-tickets or coupons to the early arrivals so they won’t rush the store when the doors eventually do open.
Further, communicating to all customers the status of the prized merchandise helps to relax those who will receive the items and helps those unfortunate customers who missed out make the decision to find substitutes or move on to another shopping location.
Finally, stocking the special merchandise throughout the store, rather than locating it in a single place, will encourage the crowd to disperse upon entering the store. By avoiding a mad rush, LP professionals can reduce the risk of conflicts and injuries.
- Avoid panic
People panic if they feel trapped or unable to move freely within a crowd. Avoid panic by having exits clearly marked and free of any obstacles. Don’t snake lines, as this makes it difficult for people to disperse. Another idea is to break lines at reasonable intervals so that if a problem occurs, only one section of the total crowd is impacted. If a situation does occur, it’s important to take control and communicate clear instructions to everyone to stop panic in its tracks.
- Create a sense of fairness
If a celebrity athlete has promised 100 autographs but walks out after only giving 50, have a plan to offer an alternative gift to the remaining customers, such as a gift card or a special offer. If someone breaks in line, address it—don’t leave it for the individuals to solve themselves. And remember, don’t frustrate customers by selecting “special guests” from the line and allowing them to skip ahead—designate a separate entrance for these guests.
Target launches anti-smoking campaign with American Cancer Society
MINNEAPOLIS – Target announced that it is launching a month-long anti-smoking campaign in connection with the American Cancer Society’s 2010 Great American Smokeout to support guests and team members in their efforts to quit smoking.
"Target is committed to helping our guests and team members reach their well-being goals, which may include quitting smoking, and we’re proud to work with the American Cancer Society for this year’s Great American Smokeout," said Dr. Joshua Riff, Target’s medical director. "As part of our focus on prevention, Target offers a variety of tools, tips and products for those who want to stop smoking and stay smoke-free. This campaign advances our prevention efforts and will ultimately lead to healthier communities."
The campaign will begin on Nov. 1 and will highlight Target’s assortment of stop-smoking aids and give greater visibility to Target Pharmacy and Target Clinic healthcare professionals, who can offer support, smoking-cessation materials and advice, the company reported. The campaign is anchored by in-store signing and informational brochures in all Target stores, as well as features in the weekly ad and at Target.com.
The American Cancer Society’s 35th annual Great American Smokeout takes place Nov. 18, and is designed to motivate and empower smokers with personalized tools, tips and support to help them quit for good.
B&N launches parents’ loyalty program
NEW YORK – Barnes & Noble announced the launch of the B&N Kids’ Club (www.bn.com/kidsclub), a free loyalty and rewards program for Barnes & Noble parents and caregivers. The B&N Kids’ Club is an in-store and online program that provides exclusive benefits along with savings and discounts on Barnes & Noble’s outstanding selection of children’s books and educational toys and games.
When customers sign-up for the B&N Kids’ Club they will be welcomed with a 30% off coupon to use on a future purchase of children’s books, educational toys and games, and adult games and puzzles, the company reported. Kids’ Club members will also receive a $5 coupon for every $100 they spend on children’s books and toys up to four times per year.
“Barnes & Noble is committed to being a valuable resource for parents,” said Jaime Carey, chief merchandising officer for Barnes & Noble. “Our recently launched B&N Kids’ Expert Circle and our newly expanded Educational Toys & Games section in stores and online reflects our dedication to helping parents choose the best products and receive meaningful advice about all the stages of raising children. B&N Kids’ Club is our way of saying thank you for continuing to trust Barnes & Noble.”