What You Need to Know About Tamper Evident Bank Bags Going into 2021

Tamper Evident Bank Bags Today

Although banks and armored couriers have relied on traditional zipper money bags for decades, tamper evident bank bags offer features that often cannot be matched by the typical canvas bank bag.

Tamper evident bags are specifically designed to protect the integrity of the bag’s contents and alert you if someone has attempted to take anything from the bag. For example, many tamper evident bank bags have highly visible void messaging to indicate when a bag has been tampered with.

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Top RFID Retail Solutions

What are the Top RFID Solutions Worth Considering for Your Retail Store?

Because RFID is at the forefront of retail innovation, you might be wondering if RFID solutions are right for your business. With thousands of tag form-factors on the market, it can be a daunting task to decide on the best RFID security solutions for your needs. Today we’ll go over the types of RFID solutions with suggestions for retailers in different sectors.

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Misinformation, Censorship, and Big Tech

(This article originally appeared in Loss Prevention Magazine)

The Risk It Poses for All of Us

The breach of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and its aftermath have highlighted just how much influence social media and technology companies like Twitter and Facebook have on real-world events. On January 8, Twitter permanently banned former President Donald Trump from its platform, and many other tech companies including Facebook, Instagram, Google, and YouTube, followed with indefinite suspensions.

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CrimeScience Podcast – The Weekly Review

The Weekly Review: Episode 46 with Dr. Read Hayes, Tony D’Onofrio, Tom Meehan

This podcast originally appears in the LPRC website.

Vaccinations are UP! Retail Sales are UP! According to the US Census Retail Bureau, January retail sales were up 3%. In this week’s episode, our co-hosts discuss these topics and more, including the US vaccination expansion campaign, retail successes in January, ranking of best retail performers, and vaccine efforts worldwide.

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The Weekly Review: Episode 45 with Dr. Read Hayes, Tony D’Onofrio, Tom Meehan

This podcast originally appears in the LPRC website.

On this week’s episode, John Voytilla, global loss prevention and subject matter expert in developing scalable and actionable strategies, joins our co-hosts to talk about the LPRC STRATEGY@ program, the importance of collaboration in the retail industry, acute vs. chronic LP issues, erosion of consequences, and much more.

John Voytilla has a verified approach to risk identification and mitigation. He has over 20 years of leadership experience in the office products industry, where he led the loss prevention and safety organizations at OfficeMax/Office Depot. Through mergers and acquisitions, John developed synergistic strategies that improved the profitability of the company. John joined Party City in 2017 as Senior Vice President to lead the development of the loss prevention and safety program, store development, facilities, and procurement functions. Recently, John launched his own consulting practice LP-FOCUS, LLC. There he will apply his critical thinking and financial/business acumen to help organizations improve their profitability. John has been an active board member and past chair of the BOA for the LPRC.

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The Weekly Review: Episode 44 with Dr. Read Hayes, Tony D’Onofrio, Tom Meehan

This podcast originally appears in the LPRC website.

145,000 COVID-19 scam websites taken down. Retail’s not dead: it’s one of the fastest-changing industries. In this week’s episode, our co-hosts discuss these topics and more, including COVID-19 strains, Clubhouse app scams, Reddit stocks, and retail trends and predictions in 2021.

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The Weekly Review: Episode 43 with Dr. Read Hayes, Tony D’Onofrio, Tom Meehan

This podcast originally appears in the LPRC website.

In this week’s episode, our co-hosts delve into the types of curbside pickup shoppers, the future of malls, 2021 store experience projections, the most important retail technologies in 2021, fake COVID-19 vaccination cards, and much more.

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The Weekly Review: Episode 42 with Dr. Read Hayes, Tony D’Onofrio, Tom Meehan

This podcast originally appears in the LPRC website.

523 retail fatalities in 2020. 19% of total retail sales took place online. Our co-hosts discuss the D&D Retail Violent Fatalities report, global consumer trends, vaccine misinformation, upcoming LPRC initiatives, zero-day flaws, Ohio’s unemployment office data breach, and much more in this week’s episode.

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The Irrational Fear of Cash and the Risks for Retail

This article originally appeared in Loss Prevention Magazine.

By Tom Meehan, CFI, and Jessica Pohlen

Across the country, it feels like there is a push from retailers to eliminate cash. We see signs saying “exact change only” posted at cash registers due to the nationwide coin shortage, and there are even marketing efforts with the slogan “contactless payment options now available” popping up in commercials. Business owners are all too familiar with the challenges of accepting cash. Making sure you have the proper float for your employees, coordinating cash-in-transit (CIT) pick-ups, and reconciling point-of-sale (POS) data with bank deposit information can be difficult, not to mention the risk of internal shrink. Add on the recent and exponential growth in public concerns about the safety of using cash at all, and cash management really has become a challenge, rather than a solution.

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The Danger of Misinformation on Social Media

This article originally appeared in Loss Prevention Magazine.

With the presidential election looming over our heads in recent months, it’s not too surprising to see that the news cycle has become hyper focused on anything to do with the election. And it’s not just the basics of a political election in the United States: the media has become dominated by topics like right-wing politics, antifa, protests, and the many political buzzwords that have suddenly become part of our everyday vocabulary.

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China has Set the Stage for the Digital Age of Retail

This article originally appeared in ACMA Currency Notes Dec 2020 Newsletter.

By Tom Meehan, CFI

Experts predict that for the first time in over a century, the United States will no longer be the largest retail market in the world. The United States and China were both deeply impacted by the COVID­19 pandemic, but the Chinese retail sector has been able to bounce back much faster, giving them a long-term advantage in growth.

Both consumer and producer growth in China has recovered from the pandemic, showing consistent growth and a 4.3 percent increase in retail sales in October from last year. This is a huge shift from the state of Chinese retailers earlier in March when half of them did not have enough cash to last the next sixth months after sales plummeted due to the pandemic. As China has become the only major economy in the world expected to grow in 2020, we can see that their success comes from their ability to capitalize on the latest retail trends. In recent years, retail has evolved to meet both industry and consumer demands for digitization. Let’s take a closer look at how the Chinese retail market has adapted to the digital age of retail.

Social Commerce

One of the biggest trends we should look out for is social commerce, where ecommerce meets social media to target young and engaged social media users. Social commerce sales are expected to make up 11.6 percent of all retail sales in China by the end of the year. Douyin, the video-­sharing app similar to TikTok and also owned by ByteDance, encourages user participation, so users create content rather than simply scrolling through a feed. This has created an opportunity for brands to monetize Douyin content by enabling users to click a video and follow a link to a third-party retailer to purchase a product.

Retailers are also investing in entertainment­-driven content to connect brands with consumers. Think of this like QVC and the Home Shopping Network, but updated for the digital age: Online retailers integrate with social media and digital payments to produce live video streams where hosts sell products. Amazon has adopted a similar strategy in the American market with Amazon Live, where livestream hosts demonstrate different products, just in time for Black Friday last week.

The livestreaming model also targets a younger audience and relies on key opinion leaders (KOLs), the Chinese equivalent to “influencers,” to demonstrate and review products in an authentic way. Not only do the livestreams have thorough product demonstrations, but they also have successful livestreamers, whose viewers trust their opinions, to promote the product to consumers. Because it is estimated that China’s livestreaming market will reach $16.3 billion by the end of 2020, they have the highest population of social buyers in the world.

Cashless Transactions

Spurred by baseless irrational fears about exchanging cash, cashless payment methods have become even more popular in China, despite many studies showing that cash is not a major transmitter of the virus that causes COVID­19. Regardless of how contactless payment services such as Alipay are already widespread throughout the country, many retailers have started only accepting cashless payments.

Much like the opening of Amazon Go stores in the United States in recent years, the Chinese supermarket chain Hema has also adopted a cashless self­checkout system. However, this posed a problem for consumers such as the elderly, overseas visitors, and people from rural areas, all of whom are either unfamiliar with or unable to access this technology. Eventually, the Chinese authorities had to intervene and require Hema to install cash registers.

Other retailers, such as the automated convenience store chain BingoBox with locations in Beijing and Shanghai, have taken the contactless shopping experience even further by not staffing their stores with people at all. Instead, customers scan QR codes to identify themselves and select their purchases, then pay with their mobile wallets, powered by WeChat, the multipurpose social media and mobile payments app. The shelves are equipped with sensors to detect when products have been removed, and each item is connected to the shopper’s ID in the app to prevent theft.

Mobile payments are especially challenging for short-­term visitors to China: Most payment apps require a bank account in the country and a Chinese phone number. I have traveled to China 12 times in the past three years, and on many occasions, I have been unable to purchase food or essential items because I cannot access Chinese contactless payment methods.

As we have seen in many arguments against a cashless society, refusing to accept cash also excludes unbanked consumers who do not have accounts with traditional financial institutions and make all their transactions in cash. In China, where only 56 percent of its population used the internet in 2017, the rural population is much larger, and these people often do not have the technology required to “tap to pay” at the grocery store, which has become more popular during the pandemic.

In July of this year, the Chinese government started cracking down on retailers who refused to accept cash, due to widespread complaints about retailers discriminating against cash users. Even credit cards are sometimes not accepted by retailers and restaurants, as smartphones become the main method of payment in the country.

As the retail industry continues to adapt to the changing expectations of consumers, we can expect many retailers to embrace up-and-­coming trends such as social commerce, livestreaming sales and contactless payment methods to set themselves ahead of the curve. Even as technology progresses, the authorities in China must continue to protect cash inclusion in the payments ecosystem.

Now Is the Time Retailers Should Consider Implementing an RFID Solution Regardless of Their Size

This article originally appeared in Loss Prevention Magazine.

Retailers are living in a time of speed, efficiency, and pressure to secure assets while exceeding customers’ expectations. If you add in the evolving challenges presented by COVID-19 and the demand for contactless and e-commerce shopping experiences, it is no wonder why many retailers are turning to RFID solutions to help automate their inventory and business operations while creating a more seamless customer experience.

Retailers with a limited budget may be hesitant to implement RFID because they view it as costly to integrate or having a long return on investment. The rapid advancement of technology, along with a reliable solutions provider, has improved RFID systems making them more affordable, scalable, and simpler to implement, allowing retailers to generate a quick return on investment.

RFID Solutions Help Retailers Gain Insight into Inventory and Enhance Customer Experience

RFID technology has endless potential to help retailers combat their ever-changing environments and gain access to real-time data for better insight and decision making. Here is a breakdown of some of the many benefits of implementing an RFID solution.

Better Logistics & Supply Chain Management
RFID technology enhances omnichannel fulfillment by automatically tracking assets throughout the supply chain journey, from manufacturing through distribution to warehouse to the sales floor. This enhanced visibility and control of the supply chain process reduces the need for human interaction, increasing efficiency while reducing human error.

Automated Inventory and Stock Counting
Managing inventory no longer needs to be a manual process. Compared to the more familiar barcode inventory system, RFID allows retailers to scan hundreds of tags at once without them having to be visible. Not only does this speed up and streamline the process, but it also complements pre-existing inventory procedures with little to no confusion for store associates. Simple and regular counts enable retailers to have accurate stock information more frequently and allows them to take full control of their inventory.

Real-Time Stock Availability and Instant Item Location
The pandemic has accelerated customer behavior and expectations for omnichannel shopping experiences. With BOPIS (Buy Online and Pickup In Store), curbside delivery and same and next day delivery, it is critical to have accurate stock quantities for customers who both shop online and in stores.  RFID technology provides a 99% accurate overview of a retailer’s assets and the exact location of items. Real-time visibility into stock levels and location minimizes out-of-stock situations and simplifies merchandise retrieval, resulting in increased sales and enhanced customer satisfaction.

Advanced Self-Checkout
As customers look for efficient and contactless shopping experiences, retailers can truly provide a contactless method of checkout with RFID. Friction during the checkout process comes from the time it takes for store associates to scan merchandise. With RFID technology, items are instantaneously checked out once placed on the self-checkout counter, eliminating the need to scan items. This reduces the time customers must wait in the checkout queue and provides them with an efficient, seamless, and truly contactless experience.

Point of Sale
RFID can also be integrated with POS systems, allowing inventory to be displayed in real time. Store associates can see in stock items at checkout and use that gathered data to track the sales patterns of specific items, allowing you to make more efficient restocking decisions. RFID can also help streamline the return process and combat growing return problems. Rather than having store associates manually log returns, items can be scanned quickly, saving the time it takes to get them processed and back on store shelves. Also, RFID tags conveniently track the history of an item, giving retailers visibility into whether an item was purchased and at what price, helping retailers combat fraudulent returns.

A retail store’s security system is one of the most effective tools in fighting shrink and deterring theft. The addition of RFID technology makes that system a futureproof EAS solution. RFID tags and systems can act in the same role as traditional EAS tags and systems while also having the ability to store and communicate incredibly useful information for retailers. From an anti-theft standpoint, if an asset with an RFID tag leaves the store without being paid for, not only will the tag trigger the alarm, but employees can also see which exact product left the store, making it easier for them to ensure all the missing items are recovered, as well as having the ability to replenish the item to not lose a future sale.

Discover the Best RFID Solution For You With CONTROLTEK

When evaluating an RFID solution, it is essential to choose a solution that is a match for your short- and long-term goals to ensure the best return on investment. For the past 45 years CONTROLTEK has partnered with many organizations including banks, retailers, government institutions, armored couriers, and logistics companies to understand their unique challenges and implement technology to help solve their problem. When it comes to RFID solutions, CONTROLTEK provides retailers regardless of their size or budget, access to the highest quality hardware, software, consumables, and seamless systems deployment.

High Performance Hardware
We understand the demands of a retail environment and the importance of hardware that will stand up to the test. In partnership with Nordic ID, we offer sustainable, long-lasting solutions designed for comfort and ease of use day in and day out.

Introducing the newest and one of the lightest, rugged designed handheld RFID readers on the market, the Nordic ID HH85, is made to perform in the most challenging conditions. It is the only handheld reader on the market that has NFC, RFID, barcode, and an integrated camera. It is built with an easy to hold ergonomic pistol grip, a battery life of up to 18 hours of continuous operation, Android 9 software, and one of the largest displays in the industry.

Offering the Nordic ID EXA21, the world’s smallest RFID reader, a wearable device that is compatible with Android, iOS or PC. Its lightweight and compact design makes it the ideal portable RFID reader for easy and comfortable on-the-go data reading.

Smart Software Solutions
We offer highly intuitive software solutions to enable complete visibility into your operations. We understand no two retailers are the same, so our software solutions have infinite configurability to match your operations, your complex workflow, and your requirements. Our solutions are easy to deploy and integrate seamlessly into your existing infrastructure. The power of RFID technology allows you to automate asset management, business processes and collect and consolidate information so you can quickly transform it into actionable business intelligence.

Versatile Labels and Tags
Regardless of the type of assets you need to protect and track, we have RFID tags and labels to match. From freezers, to electronics to elegant apparel and cosmetic displays, CONTROLTEK’s line of RFID tags and labels help protect a variety of products in flexible and unobtrusive ways. We offer a variety of shapes, sizes, specialty materials, adhesives, and inlays as well as customizable options.

First Time Right Deployment
At CONTROLTEK, we want to make it easier for your LP team to get the technology you need, help you get the ROI you expect, and alleviate the most common pain points in the process. From start to finish, we focus on your business goals and budget so you can protect your profitability. Our team of technology experts work with you to find the right RFID solution for your retail store for maximum results in your environment.

The 5 Secrets to Protecting Cash Deposits

According to the annual National Retail Security Survey, “Theft, fraud and losses from other retail “shrink” totaled $61.7 billion in 2019, up from $50.6 billion the year before as industry security executives reported increases in the number of shoplifting, organized retail crime and employee theft incidents.”  These drains on the bottom line can take a big chunk out of profits.

By their very nature, retail operations present numerous opportunities for employees to steal. Investigators can be faced with a myriad of factors that must be scrutinized and evaluated when looking at cases of suspected theft, including employees with sticky fingers who are trusted to deliver cash deposits to banks. Removing a few tens or twenties can be easy and go unnoticed. But there are others in the loop (armored-car drivers, bank employees, etc.) who also handle large sums of cash. The FBI uncovered $600,000 from a backyard in a California neighborhood. It seems two armored-truck drivers helped themselves to money being transferred from a bank vault. In another case a bank employee helped herself to cash that a local business had dropped off in a night deposit box.

Protecting Cash Made Simple

Some fixes to deter employee or customer theft can be quite extensive and technologically advanced, requiring extensive training, expensive equipment, and tons of resources.

Other ways to combat missing cash are easy to implement, such as having the relevant and necessary supplies for managing cash transactions. One simple deterrent to cash theft is engaging in the proper handling and transferring of cash.

5 Guidelines to Help Protect Collected, Transferred, & Deposited Cash:

  1. Follow best practices for hiring and training employees. Develop an anti-theft plan to include situation assessment and delineation of consequences. Be sure all employees handling money at any stage in the customer-to-bank deposit transaction period understand their responsibilities to the company. Trained security personnel must be constantly on the alert for possible theft and company investigators should be schooled in proper interviewing and reporting techniques for theft cases.
  2. Using a 2-person check, or dual sign-off, for cash transfers will deter individuals from considering stealing some of the money in their care. Also referred to as “separation of function”, this includes requiring one person to count the cash while another person verifies the amount and completes the deposit slip, or having one person seal or lock the money bag while another person verifies the seal or retains possession of the key.
  3. Install video cameras in the areas where cash is stored or transferred. Cameras can provide hard evidence in a theft case but more importantly, they are a deterrent to preventing thefts from occurring.
  4. Check your accounts in a timely manner. Make sure all deposits show up in your bank statement. Monitor all bookkeeping records. Engage in periodic, unannounced, unscheduled auditing of bank accounts.
  5. Utilize proper cash deposit bags. Currency bags should safely store money and protect it from theft as it changes hands. There are locking bags or tamper-evident currency bags, all with mid-level and maximum level security options. This added security level makes thieves think twice before reaching into a sealed money bag.

Proven Cash Protection Solutions

At CONTROLTEK, we understand that theft is not always perpetrated by store employees. There are many cases where the theft occurs after the cash has left the hands of the employee. We help ensure your cash is protected from armored car drivers and bank employees as well!
The CONTROLTEK SafeLok bag incorporates our “press2Lok” seal technology, utilizing a high security void tape with an in-line closure. This void tape is specially formulated to display void evidence when subjected to heat, cold, or chemicals.
Typically used for deposits, this bag comes in a large array of sizes and styles including internal and external pockets for checks and deposit slips. High performance films and side seams meet all Federal Reserve guidelines. The high-definition void graphics on this “easy to seal” bag make it a deterrent against theft as well as a favorite for high volume cash users.
To help prevent cash loss, contact CONTROLTEK today.

[This article has been updated to reflect the 2020 National Retail Security Survey]

How Elections and Retailers Can Be Impacted When Civil Unrest Turns Violent

This article originally appeared in Loss Prevention Magazine.

It’s not news that 2020 has been a chaotic year. From the global COVID-19 pandemic beginning in March to the protests across the country in response to the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis at the end of May, it seems impossible to predict what might happen next. But as we’ve seen so many times in the past, history often repeats itself. And this isn’t the first time that widespread civil unrest has taken hold of our country—with long-lasting results.

With 2020 being an election year, many political experts and media outlets have been hyperfocused on how these atypical current events will affect the presidential election this November. However, the United States was in a similar situation only half a century ago, during the year of the 1968 presidential election.

Unlike what we’ve seen in the protests against racism and police brutality this year, the protests in 1968 were far more violent and widespread. As civil unrest descended into chaos and violence, the political response focused on the idea of “law and order,” previously limited to more regional politics in the Deep South, making criminal justice an essential policy platform on a national scale. The Republican presidential nominee based his campaign on law and order, leading to a wave of repressive criminal-justice policies that affected politics for decades after the 1968 election. This newly introduced policy platform pressured politicians of both parties to feature law and order in their campaigns in order to be elected.

The Link Between Riots and Elections

Political experts have found that when civil unrest devolves into chaos and violence, it generates the wrong kind of attention and provokes a hostile response, as seen when Nixon based both his campaign and his presidency on his law and order stance. These experts have also uncovered the direct link between public awareness of race-related civil unrest and violence (such as riots and looting) and a decline in the Democratic vote share in both 1968 and 1972.

Many political observers expect that President Donald Trump will heavily feature law and order in his campaign for reelection. The president already got started with a tweet in May, along with his use of the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” which originated with third-party conservative and 1968 presidential candidate George Wallace.

A political scientist from George Mason University said to the Washington Post, “One of the things that I think a lot of people don’t realize is that urban rioting in American history has almost always helped conservative forces.” With the resurgence of law and order in political discussions, I think this year will continue to have some surprises in store for us.

What Does This All Mean for Retailers?

Something else that isn’t news: the retail industry has taken a huge blow during the coronavirus pandemic. Many retailers have not been deemed essential businesses, so they had to close operations for at least a couple of months starting in March as the United States instituted measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Early in the pandemic, the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that more than nine in ten customers changed their shopping habits in response to the pandemic, and more than half of customers chose to shop online for products they would normally buy in store. Though retail has had to adapt to other industry changes, like the shift to online retail and greater digitization, there isn’t a precedent to guide how we can adapt our businesses to the changes brought on by a pandemic.

With the protests that began in late May, retailers faced another issue that impacted them more than other industries. Civil unrest—such as riots and looting where destruction of property is the main result—heavily impacts retailers of all sizes. As retailers closed locations or boarded up their stores to protect their businesses from the violence, major retailers like Target, Walmart, and Nordstrom conveyed their support for the movement, rather than outright condemning the damage to their businesses.

The NRF addressed looting in a statement in early June, focusing on the history of racial injustice in America and supporting peaceful protests while also decrying the negative impact of “the actions of a few.”

Though major retailers have largely been supportive of the protests, they often aren’t the ones who suffer the worst consequences when civil unrest becomes violent. If smaller retail stores are damaged by riots or have merchandise stolen by looters, their entire businesses could be compromised. Though many business owners have insurance, the money they receive from their insurance companies might not be enough to repair all the damages, let alone help them recoup from sales lost when they had to stop operations to protect their employees’ safety and repair any damages.

As we’ve seen this year, small businesses have also been hit the worst by COVID-19. In a study published in July, researchers found that over 40 percent of small businesses have temporarily closed because of COVID-19, and overall employment by small businesses has declined by 39 percent since January.

As we are approaching the end of 2020, I believe there are going to be a lot of changes, not only within the retail industry but also in the political world. The digital transformation will continue to accelerate at a rapid pace. Retail has met and overcome many obstacles in recent decades, and I’m confident that we will continue to see that resilience in the future.

Tom’s column is featured in every issue of Loss Prevention Magazine. To subscribe to the printed version of the magazine and enjoy other great content, visit losspreventionmedia.com.