It has been more than two difficult years for the retail industry, largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
And while it may seem like the pandemic is almost over, there are several other security risks that retailers around the world need to keep a close eye on to ensure business continuity and the safety of their employees and customers.
Of those risks, four are key and they all have a common theme: they are increasing in frequency and unpredictability.
1. Cyber attacks
Research shows that the retail sector has been a top target among cybercriminals, with ransomware attacks increasing more than 200% in the past year, according to SonicWall.
Many retailers underwent a digital transformation during the pandemic to enable customers to switch from in-store to online shopping, creating more vulnerabilities and avenues for cybercrime.
Customer data, such as credit card details and personal information, are among the biggest vulnerabilities that cybercriminals will continue to exploit.
2. Violence and street crime
Crimes such as theft, property damage, and violence against store personnel not only disrupt store operations, but also threaten the safety of employees and customers.
These incidents continue to be a major headache for those who have physical stores. Theft and organized retail crime are among the main contributing factors to the $94.5bn (£82.2bn) loss to the retail industry, according to the NRF Retail Security Survey.
3. Extreme weather and natural disasters
In the 2022 Horizon Scan report, 424 business continuity and resilience professionals from 65 countries ranked climate-related risks, such as natural disasters, as one of the top three concerns in the next five to 10 years.
Severe storms, flooding, extreme temperatures, and other adverse weather conditions can significantly affect the safety of consumers and employees, as well as disrupt supply chains.
4. Geopolitical instability
Geopolitical instability continues to pose substantial risks to the retail industry as it grapples with manufacturing, logistics, supply chains, international trade, and more.
In recent years, we have seen more retailers re-examine their footprints and logistics networks to reduce store numbers or abandon certain markets altogether due to concerns and operational challenges, such as those posed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
How retailers can better prepare for future risks
As retailers now have to deal with a more diverse set of risks in a more volatile world, it is imperative that they consider the following tips to improve their security posture:
Develop a solid crisis management plan. Study and adopt best practices to help build a crisis management plan that facilitates the fastest and most efficient real-time response to unexpected events.
Network with industry peers. This is one of the best ways for security leaders to get advice and lessons learned from their peers so they can further improve their security programs.
Develop the forecast. One of the biggest retail crisis management mistakes is not having enough foresight. Proactively conducting simulation exercises and scenario planning puts retailers in a much better position to deal with future threats.
Implement effective technology, such as a real time alerts solution. Access to real-time information enables retail security teams to be aware of potential risks as soon as they occur, so they can accelerate responses and quickly mitigate business continuity impacts to help ensure retail security. customers and employees.
The threat landscape will only continue to become more complex. By staying on top of key challenges and implementing robust security measures, retailers can better prepare for and respond to unforeseen risks to protect their people and their business.
Helen Sutton is Senior Vice President of EMEA and APAC Sales at Dataminr