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Book Review: Retail Risk

Essentials of Modeling and Analytics: Retail Risk Management and Asset Protection. By David B. Speights, Daniel M. Downs, and Adi Raz. Routledge;; 328 pages; $89.95​

Decisions in the retail business are based on income and profitability. In retail, where data is exploding, Essentials of Modeling and Analytics: Retail Risk Management and Asset Protection seeks to help practitioners harness the power of data in an efficient and profitable manner. ​​

The book describes analytics-based activities in loss prevention and how to apply analysis of data to real-life scenarios. The authors point out that billions of automated decisions are made daily by analytical systems to prevent and detect crime. Examples include credit card acceptance and fraud detection, transactional exceptions, crime indices, and facial recognition. The authors also discuss the future of analytics, focusing on cost-benefit theories and merchandise security tools like electronic article surveillance, keeper boxes, and public view CCTV. 

One chapter that brings value to practitioners who hope to demonstrate ROI for implementing a program or making an equipment purchase is “Testing and Deploying Loss Prevention Programs.” The authors do a respectable job of explaining this.

As for readability, the book resembles a high school calculus textbook. It features complex equations for creating metrics from retail store shrinkage and apprehension data. However, it is easy to find an individual chapter that explains the calculations you need, so it’s not necessary to read the book cover to cover for statistical support on projects you might have. Screen shots of software used to create the metrics make the processes easier to understand. For instance, if you are working in a study of monthly sales and stolen products and want to study the trends, the book explains how to accomplish this in Excel. Charts and graphs throughout also help ensure understanding. 

Well-written in a textbook style with exercise questions at the end of each chapter, it’s a must-read for graduate students of criminology, statisticians, and anyone pursuing a career as an analyst at a retail chain. The book has applications outside of retail—the descriptions of analysis can be applied to any business deploying loss prevention or asset protection programs. 

Reviewer: Alan F. Greggo, CPP, CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner), provides global security asset protection for Microsoft. He is a Quarter Century member of ASIS and past chair of the Retail Asset Protection Council.