20 Types of Incidents all Retailers should be Reporting

In retail, many things can go wrong. A worker might get injured or experience a near miss situation, there can be weather related damages, stock theft, equipment related failures etc. Your company has to be on top of risk and incident management in order to know what's going on and fix possible issues and underlying root causes swiftly.

Incident reporting has many benefits - from loss prevention to improved workplace culture. So, here are 20 incident types retailers should keep their eye on. 

20 Different Types of Incidents Retailers Should Be Reporting

1. Crimes

Incident reporting, including whistleblowing, deals with internal crimes like fraud, embezzlement and stock theft. On the other hand, external crimes in retail include: 

  • Shoplifting
  • Property damage/ vandalism
  • Refund fraud
  • Checkout fraud
  • Cyber fraud
  • Money fraud

Keeping track of all crime-related incidents in one system helps analyse the number and severity of them to allocate resources smarter across operations to prevent losses.

2. Threats / violent situations

Retail crime goes beyond transactional scenarios into the likes of violent physical and psychological situations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cited that 85% of workplace retail violence was crime-related and violence in total caused 48% of employee deaths.

A 2020 British Retail Consortium survey recorded 424 as the average number of violent or abusive incidents that occur per day, including:

  • Verbal threats of harm or abuse
  • Physical attacks or abuse
  • Burglary and forced entry crimes’
  • Vandalism and property damage
  • Cyber attacks and bullying

Your organisation should have security mechanisms and reporting procedures in place to protect and support your business and its workers if any of the above situations occur.


3. Harassment / Discrimination reports

An inclusive workplace culture shows care for your workers and reflects a progressive and informed brand. Harassment and discriminatory incidents (sexual, hate speech, bullying etc.) are very serious. Enable all staff members to report them both by name and anonymously, handle and investigate each case with care and, when necessary, also report them to the police.


4. Accidents and injuries (both workplace and commuting related)

Accidents are likely going to happen. You should document the reports to facilitate accident compensation and insurance, to pre-empt possible legal or financial repercussions (NB: This applies to both workers and customers!) and to investigate the accidents thoroughly. 

When it comes to your employees, however, you need to think about accidents beyond the parameters of your workplace. Some situations warrant your company’s responsibility if your worker has an accident while commuting. If an accident involves your delivery drivers, for example, you may be liable for compensation. 


5. Claims

Both customer and supplier claims come in many forms. Systematically tracking all of them helps to learn from them and to improve operations to reduce unnecessary claims. More often than not, claims are also related to other types of observations like product damages.

Customer claims, ranging from product defects to delivery problems, offer opportunities for learning. Identifying recurring patterns informs product quality improvements and process refinements, fostering customer loyalty.

Supplier claims, encompassing order discrepancies and damages, hold keys to streamlined supply chains. Addressing them collaboratively builds robust supplier relationships and operational efficiency.


6. Safety observations and near misses

Having clear safety protocols, practices, signs and markings that warn visitors and workers is very important. This has never been more true than this year during the pandemic. If there is a safety hazard, protocol not being followed or other unsafe conditions, you should encourage all employees to report safety observations to reduce the risk of accidents, contagions and other costly incidents.

Near miss reporting goes a step higher from safety observations and considers those conditions and acts that had the potential to turn into accident, injury or damage.

Practical guide for setting up an incident reporting process

7. Customer incidents

In retail, customer incidents cover various interactions. These include injuries, service issues, refunds, complaints, and employee-related conflicts. Handling these ensures customer satisfaction and brand reputation.

Yet, incidents aren't one-sided. Customers may harm or harass employees, causing conflicts or fraud attempts. Handling these is vital for staff well-being and a peaceful shopping environment.

In summary, managing customer incidents is crucial in retail. It means addressing customer concerns and preventing them. This builds trust, safety, and customer satisfaction—keys to long-term retail success.


8. Hygiene and cleaning deviations

Hygiene and sanitation inspections have become ever more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Use effective deviation reports to:

  • Ensure workers have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like masks and shields
  • Keep good levels of hand sanitation products for customer and worker use
  • Disinfect and clean retail spaces regularly
  • Monitor worker symptoms for COVID-tracking

Any deviation from these and other best practices should be reported and corrected.


9. IT security incidents

Common IT security incidents include phishing attempts, malware, viruses, device theft (like laptops and phones), and email fraud. It's crucial that all retail employees recognize and report these threats promptly.

By staying vigilant and informed about IT security, you not only protect your business but also maintain trust with customers and partners. Be prepared to safeguard your digital assets against these challenges.


10. Privacy / Data protection incidents

Close cousins to IT security incidents are data protection and privacy incidents. Data breaches have become too frequent. To protect your company and both employees' and customers' personal information, all incidents should be reported and learned from. For leaking personal data incidents, your reports should state how, when and why the leak occurred and the resulting actions. 


11. Store facility damages, wear and tear

As a retail owner or manager, overseeing multiple locations can make it easy to overlook property damage and wear and tear. However, regular facility checks are vital to prevent small issues from evolving into costly problems. Ignoring cracks, leaks, or structural wear can lead to expensive repairs down the line. Additionally, neglected facilities can harm your brand image and affect customer and employee well-being.

Effective facility management isn't just about avoiding expenses; it's also about optimizing operations. Timely maintenance keeps your stores running smoothly and maintains your brand's integrity.


12. Circumstance observations

Small issues stack up and nowhere else is this more true than in customer experience. Circumstance observations are changes from expected levels of temperature, normal smell, noise and indoor air quality conditions. These are contextual conditions that might lead to both incidents and unsatisfactory customer experiences. Fix them early and often to keep both workers and customers happy. 


13. System failures and interruptions 

This category is similar to recording wear and tear and damages. The difference is that system failures require immediate attention as they may interrupt store functions instantly.

Think electricity outages, plumbing issues, equipment failures, payment glitches or cash register failures. Investigate and record the cause and impact to see how you can avoid future malfunctions.


14. Electronic article surveillance issues

Electronic article surveillance technology detects tags or labels on your products that trigger an alarm if a customer shoplifts, if an alarm was forgotten to be deactivated or sometimes just because of baby carriages. Recording aforementioned events with the testing of EAS plays a huge part in preventing shoplifting and in avoiding awkward customer experiences. If left unaddressed, surveillance failures can be quite costly.


15. Age limit control observations

If your products include restrictions on age (like alcohol or tobacco), monitor situations when minors try to buy such products and even when you suspect someone is conveying such products to minors. Parents and bystanders do take notice if you as a retailer don't take action to reduce such acts and customer loyalty is at stake.


16. Supply chain and delivery issues

Many of the issues impacting your store operations originate earlier in the supply chain or value chain such as in deliveries. Reporting these problems is crucial for logistics, updating product information, and streamlining operations.

Efficient tracking and communication with stakeholders help improve supply chain management, ensuring smoother operations, and informed decision-making. Addressing these challenges enhances retail efficiency and customer satisfaction.


17. Product damage reports

Whether the damage occurs during transportation from the supplier, while in the store, or even after a refund or return has been processed, meticulously documenting instances of product damage plays a pivotal role in enhancing both inventory management and quality control.

In essence, the act of recording these damages is not only about immediate resolution but, more importantly, about deriving valuable insights to proactively prevent such occurrences from happening in the future.


18. Late opens / Early closes

Your business must adhere to strict operating hours to maintain customer trust and convenience. Any deviation can lead to lost business opportunities. Additionally, it's important to note that property owners may impose fines for non-compliance with agreed-upon operating hours.

Use reporting to address issues affecting opening or closing times, ensuring reliability, avoiding fines, and maintaining customer satisfaction.


19. Positive observations and best practices

Not all reporting needs to be about problems with your business. Reporting can encourage more positive change and growth if you use it as a tool to comment on, share, and institutionalize practices that work.

Embracing this approach enables your organization to not only address challenges but also celebrate and amplify successful strategies, creating a holistic culture of improvement and innovation.


20. Ideas and initiatives

You can also use reporting to learn from workers, to find out what ideas they have, and to implement and monitor passion projects and worker initiatives.

By implementing a simple platform and place for these types of observations you can boost the idea and initiative generation, and as a result get valuable suggestions to improve operations, and workplace conditions.


Final Thoughts 

As we can see, there are many  types of incident and observation types retailers should be taken into account. These don't just refer to preventative actions and reports on negative experiences but also to positive observations, ideas and feedback from the field. But what is the best way to collect it all? We might be a bit biased to say, but a fully mobile reporting platform can really do wonders. Now that you know what incidents your retail business should report, you can make sure your workers do too.


If you're looking for an incident reporting platform that is easy-to-use, boosts two-way communication, has customisable workflows, vast integration possibilities and more, have a look at our Falcony | Observe module and contact us for more information.

We are also offering a 30-day trial of the Falcony | Platform so you can take your time testing it out for FREE. If you are interested, click the button below and fill in the required information to get started:

Falcony free trial

We are building the world's first operational involvement platform. Our mission is to make the process of finding, sharing, fixing and learning from issues and observations as easy as thinking about them and as rewarding as being remembered for them.‍

By doing this, we are making work more meaningful for all parties involved.

More information at falcony.io.

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