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Best Buy Canada discusses the curbside evolution of loss prevention



As part of the Retail Loss Prevention Forum held virtually on Apr. 9, Best Buy reflected on the most significant shifts of the past year and how loss prevention professionals can strategically think forward on changes to budgets, teams and the future of risk management.

Moderated by Rita Estwick, director, Canada Post Security and Investigation Services, Canada Post, panelists also included:

  • Christian Leadbeater, vice-president, Best Buy Business and Loss Prevention, Best Buy Canada
  • Chris Sallans, vice-president, Retail & Service Operations & Fulfilment, Best Buy Canada

The panel kicked off with a discussion of what the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic looked like for Best Buy and how the organization adjusted to the changing environment.

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“Retail is an ever-changing environment, and we were fairly lucky with some timing, insofar as the team had worked extremely hard on our crisis management app, and training our crisis management across the executive team and senior leaders,” Leadbeater said. “We were really fortunate at the very beginning to be able to have that in place, to be able to get the right people on the call to make the right decisions, but as soon as the pandemic hit there was great uncertainty.”

Leadbeater shared that one of the first steps Best Buy took at the start of the pandemic was secure the premises, and invest in external cameras and teams to monitor cameras and look after their assets. “We also had our teams look at really small tactical things like blocking sight lines in the front of our stores, whether it be with appliances or totes, pallets — anything to help reduce risk — switching on lights in stores overnight and playing music to give the appearance that there could be people inside,” Leadbeater explained.

Like several other retailers, Best Buy moved to a curbside pickup model, which came with its challenges according to both Leadbeater and Sallans. To overcome these challenges, Best Buy had to evolve their business practices.

“We had a reserve and pickup system at the beginning of the pandemic, so we had never taken payment through the online channel at that time,” Sallans shared.

While the situation was evolving and Best Buy had to change their practices and they had a few trials and errors, Sallans said that he was humbled by the support the company received from their customers.

“My biggest surprise early on was just the spirit of community and humanity that came through was amazing,” Sallans concluded.

For his part, Leadbeater says that one of the biggest lessons he’s learned from working during COVID-19 was to leave behind his preconceived notions of what loss prevention traditionally is.

“This pandemic has really changed how I look at the business. We’re already very collaborative internally, we’re already looking at the business overall, but I’m leaving everything I learned behind and relearning as we go,” Leadbeater concluded.