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Best Buy Doesn’t Let Retail Theft Ruin the Shopping Experience

In contrast, Costco, Sam’s Club and Walmart make shopping and leaving very uncomfortable for the shopper.
Retail shopping big box stores
Equities columnist Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.
Equities columnist Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.

Best Buy doing better job than Walmart with customer care

Have you noticed how retail shopping is no longer fun. Retail theft or shoplifting has always been a problem. However, during the last few years this problem has really skyrocketed, and things are only getting worse. The result is forcing retailers to create some very unfriendly policies for the honest, everyday shopper. That being said, some companies are doing a much better job than others. Let’s see who is doing well and who needs to improve. 

Best Buy BBY is creating a much better shopping experience compared to competitors like Walmart WMT . At the same time, they are not seeing a spike in retail theft or shoplifting thanks to their efforts. 

Customer Care Is An Art; Most Companies Fail

According to Best Buy CEO Corie Barry, the company’s theft rates have been stable over the last few years — even as competitors’ shoplifting rates have risen. Best Buy seems to be set up in the right way. Target TGT also does a good job of making the customer feel respected and appreciated.

Every CEO of every other retail store can and should learn from them. There are many different reasons for their success. Let’s look at a few of them.

What Rivals Can Learn from BBY and TGT

First, the Best Buy and Target attitude is to make the shopping experience good for the customer. This is their top priority.

Best Buy typically has a single entrance with friendly security guards right there — front and center. This makes it difficult for anyone to sneak anything out. These guards are trained to spot and handle security threats, yet do it discreetly, without causing shopper angst. 

In contrast, Costco TGT , Sam’s Club (part of Walmart), BJ’s BJ and now even Walmart itself make shopping and leaving very uncomfortable for the shopper. They are on guard all day, every day. And the customer feels the pressure.

Best Buy and Target have more workers on the floor than typical retail. More eyes, means less theft.

Best Buy does not seem to have a self-checkout problem like other retailers. While self-checkout terminals might save on labor costs, there is typically more loss to theft. (Self-checkout usually adds other problems that create a negative shopping experience.)

Best Buy also has a strong online shopping experience. They have installed in store displays for high-risk items in order to reduce theft. Best Buy and Target have created ways to let the customer shop in a variety of ways — they can scan items then pick them up within a few minutes. Or they can order online and pick up later at the store. Or they can be delivered. 

Best Buy and Target avoid angst points as part of their strategy. And it works.

They go beyond meeting customer expectations. They continue to wow the customer. And isn’t that the way things always used to be with all retailers?

As you can see, there are many different reasons for success. This is something every CEO at every other retailer can and should learn from. Other retailers may try to duplicate the results but most all fall short. Here are a few examples.

Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s also have workers at their doors. However, their workers are there to frisk you as you walk out. That’s what it feels like anyway. 

While this may help them prevent loss, it is deeply insulting to the shopper. 

Theft Prevention Insults Customers

What they are saying to those who they want to spend money with them, is that they don’t trust you. They don’t seem to care whether you trust them. And isn’t that just as important to you? Isn’t that what you should look for?

I was raised in retail. My mother, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends of my parents all had retail stores. I worked in many of them as a young man. I learned my lesson on how to treat the customer so they would keep coming back.

One important lesson every retailer needs to learn today is this: Never argue with a customer because even if you win the argument, you lose the customer. 

If that’s the case, why then do wholesale clubs insult customers as part of their business plan?

What do I mean? Follow me on this —

  • Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s make you present a card to walk in. 
  • Before you get to the cashier Costco makes you present the card again. Even with your hands full. 
  • Then, just to walk out with your purchase you must wait through a long line of other shoppers just waiting to leave the store. 
  • Finally, they compare your receipt to your purchases and judge every customer before you are allowed to leave.

How customer friendly is that? Why do we put up with these insulting actions?

Walmart treats all their customers like criminals to combat theft

Walk into Walmart and you will find barricades to keep you from exiting the wrong way or an alarm will go off. They want to check you for stolen merchandise before you leave. 

You used to find the kinder, older folks who once greeted you as you entered the store, are now searching the carts and comparing the receipts of shoppers.

This may be done with good intentions. After all, they want to prevent theft. However, the reality is this practice is insulting to customers and it needs to be flipped around: Honest, loyal customers are what any retailer should be focused on winning and keeping. Retailers should reward good customers.

If Best Buy and Target can do a good job at this, then so can every other retailer. And if they don’t, then that’s by their design. That’s their choice. 

I understand there are bad actors and bad locations in bad areas where crime is higher. However, to treat good stores in good locations with good customers like they are criminals is simply wrong and insulting. 

I hope every retailer can learn this lesson from Best Buy and Target. They get it right. As a result, Best Buy and Target don’t seem to be not dealing with the same problems as other retailers like Walmart.

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