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Shana Burg
March 17, 2022

6 Ways Retailers Use Zello to Protect Their Most Valuable Assets


Every day retailers suffer losses from a variety of sources, including online and offline fraud, shipping errors, warehouse mistakes, operational errors, and of course, internal and external theft. Larceny thefts are nonviolent and can be committed by an individual or group, and violent theft, which can be conducted by individuals or organized gangs. 

Taken together, these losses are referred to as “shrinkage” in the retail industry. A survey by the largest federation of US retailers, the National Retail Federation, found that total “shrink” grew from 1.4% to 1.6% of sales on average from 2015 to 2020

And the 2020 NRF survey on Organized Retail Crime  (ORC) found that this particular source of shrinkage is a growing threat that costs companies $700,000 for every $1 billion in sales (or 7 cents for every $100 in sales).

With these statistics in mind, retailers are eager to implement the technology that will help them track inventory, protect employees, and reduce shrinkage from all sources. Loss prevention professionals are increasingly recommending Zello’s push-to-talk app as part of the solution.

How Zello Can Help You Reduce Loss

Here are six ways that Zello’s digital push-to-talk technology helps retailers prevent losses and protect their most valuable assets.

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1. Employees Can Talk to Security from Anywhere at Anytime

Most employees aren’t going to risk their own safety to stop a crime in progress. An article about retail shrinkage in The Atlantic magazine put it this way:

“How many people who make $12 an hour to get screamed at by strangers for 31 hours a week (any more and the company would have to give them health insurance) are going to interrupt someone dumping bottles of shampoo into a garbage bag so that they can save their corporate overlords a rounding error’s worth of losses? Is it worth finding out if that guy has a gun?”

When stores only use traditional walkie-talkies, retail employees have no way to quickly and privately communicate with security as all conversation takes place on a single channel that both customers and fellow employees can overhear. With Zello, employees can instantly communicate in private channels to store security, who can then respond to the situation in real-time. 

2. Communication Is Discreet

When Zello is paired with a Bluetooth headset, an employee’s conversation with a single security officer or with their team is subtle; it may not be obvious that the employee is even connecting with anyone. This makes reporting theft safer for the employee. 

Additionally, Zello doesn’t run on radio frequencies, so there’s no static or interference as you often get with a traditional walkie-talkie. 

Instead, Zello operates on a cell or Wi-Fi signal. This allows workers to talk quietly, while their voices are transmitted with crystal clear clarity. As a result, employees do not need to raise their voices or repeat themselves to overcome a poor quality connection.  

3. Workers Can Send Photos, Texts and Location

The Zello push-to-talk app offers more than voice technology. Users also have the ability to send photos and texts, as well as to transmit their exact locations with the touch of a button. 

This can be invaluable in preventing theft. In the case of a larceny theft (when products are not being taken by force or by fraud), an employee can instantly send a photo of the offender to security, along with their exact location in the retail store.

4. Emergency Alerts Let Employees Know They Aren’t Alone

With the rise of Organized Retail Crime (ORC), taking steps to keep employees safe is more critical than ever. 

Ben Dugan, the Director of Organized Retail Crime and Corporate Investigations at CVS Health, recently testified at a US Senate Hearing. He said that an Organized Retail Crime is reported in one of the 10,000 CVS Pharmacies every three minutes, and he reported that the company loses $200 Million a year to ORC.

Because ORC gangs are reselling the products they steal online, the tremendous shift to online retail during the pandemic has only fueled their fire. 

Zello comes with an emergency alert button. Tap it and a designated security officer or the entire management team will be alerted that the employee is in danger. The officer or team can then easily pinpoint the employee’s location in the store.

By equipping retail employees with Zello, every single worker knows that they are never truly alone. 

5. Channels Let Managers Coordinate Loss Prevention Across Stores

Loss prevention specialists are more effective when they can coordinate strategies across stores within the brand, as well as across retail shops in the same shopping mall or neighborhood.

Zello channels allow loss prevention experts to set up communication channels in any fashion that will support their work. 

In the past few years, loss prevention professionals have noted an increased need to collaborate with others during the pandemic, demonstrations, and disastrous weather events that impact entire communities. 

Simply by using Zello’s digital push-to-talk technology, loss prevention experts working at a local franchise can instantly warn others of an Organized Retail Crime that has just occurred in their shop. They can also discuss plans for how to respond to an event such as a rolling blackout that might leave stores in a particular neighborhood vulnerable to theft.

6. Managers Can Provide Instant Help to Employees

Not all shrinkage occurs because of theft or fraud. There are also operational mistakes or discounting errors that occur. Employees who can’t easily reach their managers to ask clarifying questions are more apt to make these types of mistakes.

With a single tap, Zello allows an employee doing bookkeeping in the backroom to instantly connect with a manager who might be en route to the airport to attend a conference. Rather than guess the best way to solve the problem, the employee can tap the app, quickly ask their question, and implement the correct procedure rather than guessing and making a costly error.

So How Does Zello Help With Loss Prevention?

Zello assists retailers in their loss prevention efforts by providing employees with instant private communications with security staff, making it easier and safer to report theft.

With emergency alert buttons, employees know they are not alone, and can more readily get help if needed. 

Further, Zello channels allow loss prevention experts to coordinate their strategies beyond the walls of their own shops.

And Zello helps further reduce shrinkage by giving employees an instant way to communicate with their managers, who can be anywhere in the world where there’s Wi-Fi or cell service.

Learn more about how Zello can help your retail business.