11/19/2014 04:43 pm ET Updated Jan 19, 2015

Holiday Shopping: More Shoppers, More Theft -- Prepare Your Business

The holiday season can be a stressful time for most people, not to mention retailers. With the seasonal shopping season starting earlier and earlier each year, many small businesses are scrambling to order inventory, ensure their shelves are stocked, all the while decorating their storefront in a way that will entice customers to come in and shop local.

While some may complain about the commercialization of the holiday season, there is proof in the "figgy pudding." According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales represent approximately 19.2 percent of the retail industry's annual sales of $3.2 trillion. And that's not just for the big box stores and e-commerce giants, the upcoming holiday season is extremely important for small business owners. It's the biggest revenue driver of the year, and can keep a business afloat or sink it. However, the increase in potential shoppers, brings an increase in potential theft. Seasonal shoplifting can be detrimental for small businesses owners, who are trying keep their doors open for another year.

Here are some simple ways small businesses can leverage or supplement their existing resources to make sure their assets are secure, while also gaining key insight into business operations.

Keep Doors Clear

With the increase in inventory and holiday decorations, small retailers are often trying to front load their stores to attract ambivalent shoppers needing to be wooed off the sidewalk. However, this can hurt as much as it helps, since the added clutter can limit the line of sight for employees. And with more people shuffling in and out to find the perfect holiday gift, it's key to ensure all access points are kept an eye on. After setting up store displays, take time to walk the floor to make sure there is a clear line of sight to the door from all directions. Keep in mind, it's not only the front door to worry about. Be mindful of any back or side doors, which can be used as a quick getaway for shoplifters.

By having a direct line of sight, businesses can also gain important insight from observing which routes customers take when entering their stores. For instance, is there a particular display that is catching their eye or a popular item that may need to be reordered?

Prepared Employees Make Safer Employees

Everyone knows that the holiday season means more shoppers will be stopping by, and some businesses hire additional seasonal help to keep up. It is important that all employees are aware of store policies, and what the proper security protocols are should an issue arise. It's easy as taking a couple of moments to go over how to handle witnessing a theft or what behaviors are red flags for potential shoplifters, who to contact if an issue occurs.

Educating employees on safety best practices can help prevent theft, and ensure the overall safety of your business.

Upgrading Security Technology is Easy and Simple

In addition, small business owners should consider upgrading to an affordable commercial-grade IP video surveillance system. IP security cameras provide HD quality video which results in better video clarity over older analog video systems. There are plenty of options available that are easy to use and install, and can help business owners monitor areas of a store that are more susceptible to theft.

Additionally, new cameras can connect with mobile monitoring apps for remote viewing, allowing business owners to gain business insight and peace of mind when they are away from the store or after hours.

While small businesses should incorporate these best practices during the busy holiday shopping season, they are good to keep in mind year-round. Theft can happen any time of the year, so it's key to be prepared.