The latest shrink research underscores the importance of LP.
Last month, we covered the formation of the Loss Prevention Foundation's LP Certification Program, sponsored by RILA (Retail Industry Leaders Association) and Loss Prevention Magazine. I thought I'd use this month's column to elaborate on the timeliness and importance of the Foundation's new initiative.
You've undoubtedly noticed an increase in the amount of coverage Integrated Solutions For Retailers has been giving LP during the last year and a half. That's because we're eager to help our readers integrate IT and LP solutions to combat a rapidly growing problem (retail theft increased in 2006 for the first time in four years). Traditionally, our IT and store operations-centric readership might have shrugged this statistic off as one for the LP/security department to deal with. But as the 2006 National Retail Security Survey (conducted by the University of Florida and commissioned by ADT Security Services) indicates, the growing shrink and organized retail crime problem belongs to everyone, from C-level execs with technology purchasing power to store-level associates with eyes and ears on the sales floor.
Which LP Certification Is Right For You?
I've been speaking with Rhett Asher, formerly a VP at RILA, who is responsible for developing the LP Certification Program's course curriculum. Asher tells me there are two audiences for the initiative — entry-level LP personnel and aspiring LP and corporate executives. The LPC (Loss Prevention Certified) program is executed in two phases, whereby individuals first attain a status of LPCQUALIFIED, and then through a combination of education, experience, and formal exam have the opportunity to become LPCCERTIFIED. Only then, Asher says, can LP professionals be officially distinguished by the LPC acronym.
Although the initial development strategy will focus on retail LP, most of the program's focus will be universal, and additional material will be developed relevant to convenience stores and the restaurant/hospitality industry this year. This is timely and important, as new, sophisticated sources of shrink that affect both retail and peripheral industries are popping up continuously (the 2006 holiday season's en vogue fraud was gift card manipulation, which had an effect on retailers and restaurateurs alike).
The Foundation's intention is for the certification program to become truly international. Asher says the Foundation will partner with both domestic and international retailers and academia to create formal standards that adapt to changes in culture, law, and language. Ongoing education is mandatory in order to maintain LPC status. The designation requires the accumulation of annual continuing education credits to demonstrate continuing commitment to ongoing training, self-improvement, and career advancement. The payment of annual dues is also required. Additional credit courses will be offered through the LPC program and RILA.
I'm encouraging LP professionals to look into the LP Certification Program. I'm also encouraging any IT or store operations professional who plays a role in the deployment of LP initiatives to investigate certification. Reversing the rise in shrink and organized retail crime will require the continued convergence of many retail disciplines.