Misstep 28: I never feel like — somebody’s watchin’ me

Small Video Screen

I have to start by confessing that I love my local Home Depot — they are by far the friendliest folks you’ll run into at retail. This doesn’t exempt them from a little issue though…

They have an aisle where screws, bolts, washers, nuts and other hardware are hung up. These sorts of items are extremely high margin, and because they’re often priced well above their cost at bulk — and because they are very small, they’re subject to higher rates of theft.

Many times, people seem to simply push a screw / bolt through the thin plastic bag they’re in and take what they need — or they’ll apparently palm the entire bag. I’ve witnessed it a few times now where I’m paging through the hardware and find empty bags hanging there.

The Misstep?

These screens are designed to show “somebody is watching” — it’s quite funny, it shows a view of you on the in-built webcam, and then it changes to a room that appears to be a “Security Operations Center” or SoC, where a bunch of security folks (wearing Home Depot aprons) are looking at cameras and suspiciously moving CLOSE to the screen, while talking on a phone.

If you spend as much time as I do in Home Depot, you’ll know the following are true:

  • These same clips are shown every time you’re in there. It isn’t remotely convincing that somebody is watching me buy bolts.
  • By showing me what the camera can see — I know what the camera can see. Now I know what merchandise is difficult to look at.
  • I also can simply grab what I want and walk to another aisle and pocket it. Claim I put it down somewhere. Or, grab two, come back, put the one back that I didn’t need.

The Solution?

Items with this sort of margin, that are also easy to conceal, don’t have a great solution. You could reduce the price, for example. An Ace Hardware near me actually puts padlocks on their parts bins (but only the Chrome ones). I assume this is due to the much higher cost — even more than stainless.

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Robert Lerner

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