Shoplifting 2.0

2011-11-08 18:21

It has come to my attention that, from time to time, it is important to reevaluate traditional business models and see how they can be improved with our modern and more advanced understanding of economics. With that in mind, I call your attention to a new business model I have developed, an extraordinarily effective means of removing items from retail establishments. It turns everything you thought you knew about shoplifting upside-down, and as such, I think it clearly worthy of the name “Shoplifting 2.0”.

Shoplifting is one of the best-known business models, but the fact is, it is a shambles. Shoplifters are frequently unsuccessful, and face significant social penalties. This, dear reader, is because they have not taken the time to think through their goals, and ensure that their actions are fully aligned with these goals.

The essential core of successful shoplifting is to exit a retail establishment with an item without being chased or arrested. Traditional shoplifting places the shoplifter in a role directly opposed to that of the retail establishment’s workers, leading to a situation where both parties cannot simultaneously succeed at their goals. Such “win-lose” conflicts inevitably lead to struggles and stress.

This is, in fact, the key place where old-style shoplifting has fallen down. Shoplifters not infrequently find themselves arrested, facing possible penalties including jail time, or at the very least a period of time spent in the back of a police car. This, it turns out, is horrendously inefficient. See, shoplifting’s core business model arose before opportunity costs were fully comprehended; the naive old-style shoplifter does not recognize the very real opportunity cost of time spent arrested or jailed.

With this, we are ready for the key insight of Shoplifting 2.0, which is that you can eliminate that risk by paying for things before taking them away. This shocking idea turns everything we have taken for granted about shoplifting upside-down, but if you think it through, you will see quickly that this allows us to replace a “win-lose” situation with a “win-win” situation, in which retail clerks may not only allow a shoplifter to remove items from the premises, but assist. But, with the removal of the opportunity cost of time spent arrested or jailed, we find that we are nonetheless paying less overall for items than an old-style shoplifter.

Problem solved!

Peter Seebach

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