More than two-thirds of U.S.-based retailers said that the COVID-19 pandemic increased risks for their organizations in 2020 and even as shoplifting rates decreased in 2021, the retail shrink rate remained steady at a 5-year high of 1.62%. In the past year, loss prevention teams have had to adapt to new priority concern areas while 44% of retailers allocated more budget to loss prevention. So, what have been the top concerns in retail security from the past year?

Multichannel Sales

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2021 National Retail Security Survey, 38.9% of surveyed retailers listed multichannel sales as the greatest increase in fraud occurring, up from 18.8% in 2020. As the consumer shift towards multichannel shopping has continued, more instances of loss have resulted from such avenues as BOPIS or curbside pickup. These methods of fulfillment are designed to eliminate friction points and increase convenience often at the expense of security, giving bad actors additional opportunities to take advantage. This presents an important challenge for retailers and their loss prevention teams, implementing solutions that do not concede the consumer experience but still protect it with a security solution that is comprehensive. Those who do so are rewarded as physical security and retail IT security become a competitive advantage rather than a cost.

Employee Theft

The average cost per incident of employee theft was $1,551 in 2021 which is triple the amount of a traditional shoplifting incident. Most common instances of employee theft include: sweet hearting, where an employee gives free or discounted merchandise to a friend or fellow employee, under ringing, where an employee causes the sales recording device to reflect less than the full retail value of the merchandise, and prepaid gift card theft. Resolving these instances of employee theft require digital capabilities that can monitor transaction environments to provide full visibility and insights into customer and associate movements and in doing so, prevent the source of 28% of all retail losses in the United States.


Hackers love retail and e-commerce retailers were at risk of losing over $20 billion in 2021 due to online fraud which was an 18% increase from 2020. This statistic is staggering especially when considering only 34% of businesses are investing in fraud prevention measures. Holes in e-commerce security can lead to the loss of consumer trust as a brand reputation is on the line with each transaction.


Here are Cisco’s four key focus areas for physical and cybersecurity in retail and how they address the industry’s security challenges heading into 2022:

  1. Safety and surveillance: Providing a safe and compliant environment for associates and customers is essential to retail operations and by leveraging video capabilities they can detect unsafe or illegal activity taking place in and around a store.
  2. Loss prevention and fraud detection: Retailers need the ability to monitor not only sales areas like registers and customer service kiosks but also back-of-house activities to identify and document theft from both customers and employees.
  3. Secure connectivity and optimization: As hackers become more sophisticated, retailers need to meet them with security solutions and services that are simple, automated, and effective to enable growth and protection from the store to the cloud to the data center.
  4. Threat defense: With the proliferation of technology accelerating in corporate, home, and mobile environments, retailers of all verticals need solutions to meet bandwidth and security considerations.


Scott Lantis

Marketing Manger Global Industries