5 Best Practices to Prevent Shopping Cart Theft

Anyone who lives even remotely near a grocery store has probably come across a shopping cart that seems to have lost its way. You might see a cart on the sidewalk or street, near someone’s home, or abandoned in the woods. Of course, shopping carts don’t have minds of their own. These carts didn’t just get up and leave their counterparts; they were stolen. 

If you own a business that utilizes shopping carts, losing a cart here and there isn’t just an annoyance, but a serious financial burden. Your carts are your assets, allowing your customers to shop comfortably and load up their vehicles. Each cart stolen from your property incurs more than just the cost to replace it (though this adds up, too); there is also one less cart for a potential customer who will purchase your products. In other words, cart theft negatively impacts your entire bottom line.

Unfortunately, shopping cart theft is quite common. To put some hard numbers on this issue, according to the Food Marketing Institute, shopping cart theft costs an individual grocery business $8,000-10,000 per year on average, and $800 million annually across the globe for the entire retail industry; all of this thanks to approximately 2 million stolen carts in a given year. 

Most grocers and retailers cannot stand or afford to eat these losses, especially when they are avoidable. And indeed, while carts get stolen regularly, shopping cart theft is preventable with the right solutions. Let’s go over five of the best practices to prevent shopping cart theft and potentially save your business thousands of dollars each year.

Security Cameras

We all understand the importance of installing security cameras inside your store. This is how you can catch shoplifters and keep tabs on suspicious activity. However, installing exterior cameras matters for a number of other reasons. For one thing, if a customer steals an item and manages to get all the way to the parking lot, your outwardly-facing cameras can still identify the individual and their license plate, if applicable. In terms of preventing shopping cart theft, high-quality security cameras can track the thief and the stolen cart for a long distance, giving your security team the ability to track down the cart and potentially the offender. And, of course, the mere presence of security cameras, both inside and outside your store, discourages most customers from even considering stealing your property.

Built-in Cart Theft Prevention Technology

As useful as cameras are, they can’t prevent every instance of shopping cart theft. Security personnel might not see it happen, or they might not be fast enough to stop the perpetrator. This is why it helps to invest in additional security measures built right into your carts. Electronic and magnetic systems can be attached to a cart’s wheels, so that when the object gets taken a certain distance from your store, it clamps down on the wheel, braking it and making it difficult to push the cart any further. 

Automated locking technology is effective, but it comes at a cost. However, if your store handles a large quantity of shopping carts and deals with lots of theft, this tech is a worthwhile investment. Plus, it may be time to update or replace your old shopping carts anyway.

Encourage and Sell Personal Shopping Carts

While it’s never right to appease those who would steal your carts, the sad reality is that some people make poor choices due to unfavorable circumstances. For instance, someone might remove a cart from the premises because they have no other way to transport their groceries back to their residence. They might even plan on returning the cart at a later time, but you can’t rely on ever seeing that cart again once it’s been taken. So, the more options you can provide your customers, the better. Selling affordable personal shopping carts, for instance, helps those with mobility issues bring their products back home without the burden of carrying a load of bags. They can bring this cart with them wherever they go so you don’t have to worry as much about losing one of your store’s carts.

Hire Personnel to Bring Carts Back

Your parking lot can quickly become a mess of stranded carts unless you have dedicated cart retrieval personnel. After all, when things become disorganized, the situation is ripe for theft. Cart retrieval positions go by many names, and the job may be outsourced to a third-party or hired in-house. Whatever the case, the main duty of these employees is to collect all carts, whether strewn across the lot or properly placed in shopping cart corrals, and wheel them back into the store for customer use. 

This position serves many purposes. First, it keeps your parking lot clean and free from obstructions. Next, it ensures that all shoppers have access to carts when entering your store. It also encourages customers to leave their carts in the corrals after shopping. Cart retrieval personnel also help locate and bring back carts that may not have been stolen, but nonetheless ended up somewhere they shouldn’t be. And lastly, this position discourages theft since there are often employees clearly present in and near the parking lot.

Invoke the Law

Most people know that stealing someone else’s property is against the law. However, certain cities and states are enacting additional laws to discourage cart theft in particular. These laws may affect both businesses and thieves. Last year in January, Milwaukee begain working on passing a “shopping cart resolution” that would fine companies and residents who either remove or allow for the removal of shopping carts, as the pervasiveness of these carts is creating blight in various neighborhoods. Laws like these may become more common and negatively impact grocers and retailers, making it even more of a priority to prevent shopping cart theft. Posting signange in and around your store to remind customers that stealing carts will incur heavy fines and additional legal action may discourage theft.

There is no surefire way to prevent all instances of shopping cart theft. Still, abiding by the five practices above can significantly decrease the risk of this happening to your store.

Good L Corporation delivers innovative shopping cart and basket solutions for retailers on a global scale. From a fleet of custom, new shopping carts to launch your store opening to replacement baskets that supplement your existing shop supply, Good L Corp can configure the right carryall strategy to boost your retail business. Let’s get started! Contact us today for a no-pressure sales quote.

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