In retail, many things can go wrong. A worker might get injured or experience a near miss situation, there can be weather related damages, stock theft, equipment related failures etc. Your company has to be on top of risk and incident management in order to know what's going on and fix possible issues and underlying root causes swiftly.
Incident reporting has many benefits - from loss prevention to improved workplace culture. So, here are 20 incident types retailers should keep their eye on.
20 Different Types of Incidents Retailers Should Be Reporting
Incident reporting, including whistleblowing, deals with internal crimes like fraud, embezzlement and stock theft. On the other hand, external crimes in retail include:
- Property damage/ vandalism
- Refund fraud
- Checkout fraud
- Cyber fraud
- Money fraud
Keeping track of all crime-related incidents in one system helps analysing the number and severity of them to allocate resources smarter across operations to prevent losses.
2. Threats / violent situations
Retail crime goes beyond transactional scenarios into the likes of violent physical and psychological situations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cited 85% of workplace retail violence was crime-related and violence in total caused 48% of employee deaths.
A 2020 British Retail Consortium survey recorded 424 as the average number of violent or abusive incidents that occur per day, including:
- Verbal threats of harm or abuse
- Physical attacks or abuse
- Burglary and forced entry crimes’
- Vandalism and property damage
- Cyber attacks and bullying
Your organisation should have security mechanisms and reporting procedures in place to protect and support your business and its workers if any of the above situations occur.
3. Harassment / Discrimination reports
An inclusive workplace culture shows care for your workers and reflects a progressive and informed brand. Harassment and discriminatory incidents (sexual, hate speech, bullying etc.) are very serious. Enable all staff members to report them both by name and anonymously, handle and investigate each case with care and, when necessary, also report them to the police.
4. Accidents and injuries (both workplace and commuting related)
Accidents are likely going to happen. You should document the reports to facilitate accident compensation and insurance, to pre-empt possible legal or financial repercussions (NB: This applies to both workers and customers!) and to investigate the accidents thoroughly.
When it comes to your employees, however, you need to think about accidents beyond the parameters of your workplace. Some situations warrant your company’s responsibility if your worker has an accident while commuting. If an accident involves your delivery drivers, for example, you may be liable for compensation.
Both customer and supplier claims come in many forms. Systematically tracking all of them helps to learn from them and to improve operations to reduce unnecessary claims. More often than not, claims are also related to other types of observations like product damages.
6. Safety observations and near misses
Having clear safety protocols, practices, signs and markings that warn visitors and workers is very important. This has never been more true than this year during the pandemic. If there is a safety hazard, protocol not being followed or other unsafe conditions, you should encourage all employees to report safety observations to reduce the risk of accidents, contagions and other costly incidents.
Near miss reporting goes a step higher from safety observations and considers those conditions and acts that had the potential to turn into accident, injury or damage.
7. Customer incidents
These include incidents affecting the customer like injuries, dissatisfactory service or products, refunds and complaints, abuse or harassment by employees, amongst others.
Inversely, sometimes customer incidents can also involve the customer causing harm or abuse to workers.
8. Hygiene and cleaning deviations
Hygiene and sanitation inspections have become ever more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Use effective deviation reports to:
- Ensure workers have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like masks and shields
- Keep good levels of hand sanitation products for customer and worker use
- Disinfect and clean retail spaces regularly
- Monitor worker symptoms for COVID-tracking
Any deviation from these and other best practices should be reported and corrected.
9. IT security incidents
This is particularly important for online retailers but applies to all retail businesses for the protection and safety of technological or digitised data. Example IT Security incidents that all retail employees should be familiar are phishing attempt, malware, virus, disappearance of devices (laptop, phone etc.) and email fraud just to name a few.
10. Privacy / Data protection incidents
Close cousins to IT security incidents are data protection and privacy incidents. Data breaches have become too frequent. To protect your company and both employees' and customers' personal information, all incidents should be reported and learned from. For leaking personal data incidents, your reports should state how, when and why the leak occurred and the resulting actions.
11. Store facility damages, wear and tear
As a retail business owner or manager, you may not be aware of property damage or deterioration - especially if you have multiple facilities. Refreshing reports on your sites regularly ensures you don’t delay necessary repairs that can cost you more in the long term.
12. Circumstance observations
Small issues stack up and nowhere else is this more true than in customer experience. Circumstance observations are changes from expected levels of temperature, normal smell, noise and indoor air quality conditions. These are contextual conditions that might lead to both incidents and unsatisfactory customer experiences. Fix them early and often to keep both workers and customers happy.
13. System failures and interruptions
This category is similar to recording wear and tear and damages. The difference is that system failures require immediate attention as they may interrupt store functions instantly.
Think electricity outages, plumbing issues, equipment failures, payment glitches or cash register failures. Investigate and record the cause and impact to see how you can avoid future malfunctions.
14. Electronic article surveillance issues
Electronic article surveillance technology detects tags or labels on your products that trigger an alarm if a customer shoplifts, if an alarm was forgotten to be deactivated or sometimes just because of baby carriages. Recording aforementioned events with the testing of EAS plays a huge part in preventing shoplifting and in avoiding awkward customer experiences. If left unaddressed, surveillance failures can be quite costly.
15. Age limit control observations
If your products include restrictions on age (like alcohol or tobacco), monitor situations when minors try to buy such products and even when you suspect someone is conveying such products to minors. Parents and bystanders do take notice if you as a retailer don't take action to reduce such acts and customer loyalty is at stake.
16. Supply chain and delivery issues
Many of the issues impacting your store operations originate earlier in the supply chain or value chain such as in deliveries. Reporting those issues are useful for logistical purposes to communicate and update information on your product cycle and journey.
17. Product damage reports
Whether the damage occurs with the supplier, in the store, or after a refund or return, recording product damage improves inventory and quality management. In the end recording the damages is about learning from them to avoid such instances in the future.
18. Late opens / Early closes
You cannot run a successful retail business if you don’t abide by strict operating hours. Customers want convenience and access, so if your business opens and closes at whim, you may lose business.
Be consistent and use reporting to address situations that affect opening or closing times.
19. Positive observations and best practices
Not all reporting needs to be about problems with your business. Reporting can encourage more positive change and growth if you use it as a tool to comment on, share and institutionalise practices that work.
20. Ideas and initiatives
You can also use reporting to learn from workers, to find out what ideas they have, and to implement and monitor passion projects and worker initiatives.
By implementing a simple platform and place for these types of observations you can boost the idea and initiative generation, and as a result get valuable suggestions to improve operations, and workplace conditions.
As we can see, there are many types of incident and observation types retailers should be taken into account. These don't just refer to preventative actions and reports on negative experiences but also to positive observations, ideas and feedback from the field. But what is the best way to collect it all? We might be a bit biased to say, but a fully mobile reporting platform can really do wonders. Now that you know what incidents your retail business should report, you can make sure your workers do too.
If you're looking for an incident reporting platform that is easy-to-use, boosts two-way communication, has customisable workflows, vast integration possibilities and more, have a look at our incy.io product and contact us for more information.
We are also offering a 30-day trial of incy.io so you can take your time testing it out for FREE. If you are interested, click the button below and fill in the required information to get started:
We're a tech company with a passion for helping our customers adapt to the fast changing VUCA world. We're doing that by developing easy-to-use SaaS products that make gathering, managing and analysing field information as easy as possible for the end users. Remove gatekeepers, go horizontal and learn from your mistakes before they actually happen. More info at planbrothers.io