A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate CCFA Asset Protection Conference in Beijing, China which is hosted by the China Chain Store & Franchise Association (CCFA). My hosts, including CCFA and Michael Zang, chair of the conference, were outstanding to work with and I thought I’d share a few thoughts from the experience.
As the first Western speaker at this conference, I was asked to talk about the evolution of the U.S. loss prevention industry, what factors have driven its development, and how the Chinese retail industry might learn from it and move forward more quickly. Clearly, the loss prevention and asset protection industry is in its early stages in China (as is the case in several other developing markets) and much needs to be done to create an understanding of how our function contributes to organizational performance.
The loss prevention practitioners that I met at the conference are, by and large, assertive and forward thinking with an eagerness to learn from others’ experience. However, from my experience in observing quite a few retail operations in China, little has been provided to these employees in regards to professional development. This is due, in part, to the lack of a developed industry but I think it also relates to language and culutural barriers plus the seeming lack of operational strategy that many retailers have for China.
There is a cadre of leaders within China who are working to develop expertise and industry opportunities from within China as evidenced in this conference, interest in publications and certifications from the U.S. such as LP Magazine, the Certified Forensic Interviewer credential, and the efforts of the Loss Prevention Foundation. Additionally, data is starting to be collected and dissemenated in regards to shrinkage and loss. KPMG presented data at the conference showing a slowly rising trend in shrinkage, although classification and measurement variances between companies cause difficulty. However, this is also true in most developed markets.
If Western companies hope to be successful with their loss prevention efforts in China, they will have to carefully consider how they are going to help build the professional and technical skills of those who are on the leading edge of the nascent profession in China. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on what you are doing to build capability in this market.