Security at IKEA: prevention and tact
At the IKEA store in Plaisir, near Paris, the basic mission for security provider Securitas is the same as it would be at any other retail outlet: ensure the security of employees and customers and to reduce the risk of fire and theft. But the hands-on nature of the shopping experience at IKEA creates additional complications.
To start with, every room in a house is represented in multiple versions at an IKEA store. Pictures, vases and other decorative items help customers with differing tastes visualize their ideal home. And shopping there is a very hands-on experience as whole families enter the rooms to try the beds and chairs, open cupboards, feel textiles, compare and discuss to make their decisions.
Keeping the store child-safe
That means that rooms must be made safe for children just like they would be in an enormous private home. IKEA’s security officers therefore check to ensure that bookshelves are secured to the wall, for example, in case a child decides to climb on one. They also ensure that products that could create a potential hazard to children are displayed at a height of at least 120 cm.
For adults, the biggest risk zone is the warehouse, where customers pick up the flat boxes that will become chairs, tables, beds, wall units and more when they are assembled at home. The boxes are stacked on high metal shelves, often weigh more than 20 kilos (44 pounds) and could hurt someone if they fell. Security officers therefore check on a daily basis that the boxes are properly stacked and stable.
Training and tact
Making sure that IKEA’s customers have paid for their merchandise before they leave can require a bit of tact. All officers therefore receive special training in shop security. For example, a security officer must learn to be assertive enough to approach a person suspected of taking something without paying and yet be diplomatic at the same time. During the course, officers also learn how to recognize counterfeit checks and bills.
According to IKEA’s risk manager, Eric Dubreu, the presence of security officers has significantly deterred theft. “At IKEA Plaisir, only about 0.24 percent of turnover was lost through theft last year, which is lower than in other large stores in the Paris region,” he says.
Securitas has also scored well in other measures of security. IKEA’s group-wide security policy contains hundreds of rules on risk minimization and security improvements. Securitas at Plaisir has scored 92 points of a possible 100 in the audit compared to an average of 88 for IKEA stores in France. “We have succeeded in building up a security culture among our staff,” Dubreu concludes.