As online purchasing continues to rapidly grow, so does the theft of packages sitting on doorsteps and porches. It happens year-round, but thefts really spike during the holidays.

Not a big deal? Nearly 20% of American homeowners have been a victim of package theft in the last year and the median value of a stolen package was $250, according to a recent survey by Ring, a home security firm.

Another survey by Shorr Packaging found that 61% of consumers feel online retailers are not doing enough to prevent package theft. Online retailers may feel it’s out of their control, but there are some things they can do:

Offer theft insurance – 53% of respondents in the Shorr survey said they would pay more for a product if offered theft insurance.

Ship in discreet packaging – 37% said they would pay more if the package were more discreet. That is, the packaging hides the more enticing brands or products from thieves.

Ship to a secure location – 71% of the respondents said they would be open to having their packages sent to a secure address such as a U.S. Post Office, UPS store, or Amazon locker or their workplace.

The above options will take some time to implement. What can online retailers do now? You can alert customers to the growing package theft problem on your website (at checkout and/or in a blog?) and offer some suggestions such as:

  • Provide delivery instructions to leave the package at the back door or hide behind a plant on the porch. However, thieves may follow delivery trucks and see the where the package is hidden.

  • Provide security code – If your customer has a key-pad front door lock or garage door opener, they can provide the door opening code to the delivery service. But some customers may not want delivery people entering their home and like having to change their entry code after every delivery.

  • Advertise a security system real or imagined by placing security stickers, yard signs and security cameras where thieves will see them. Thieves can be easily deterred and will move on to another house if they fear triggering an alarm. Just remember, some thieves disguise themselves and may not fear video surveillance.

  • Ask a neighbor to hold it for you. A neighbor can pick up a package at your door or have it delivered directly to them. This may not be a practical option for many.

  • Secure containers/alarms. There are plenty of secure storage container options available that can be placed on the front porch. Choices range from large metal boxes to the Amazon Porch Pirate bag that locks and tethers to a doorknob or post. The Package Guard is a disc that sits on a porch and once a package is placed on it, a 100-decibel alarm goes off if it’s removed before a wireless code is entered.

If your customers happen to live in San Francisco, Chicago or New York, they can use Doorman (for an extra fee) to have the packages delivered when they are at home.

Online retailers need to understand the growing problem of porch piracy. The ones that succeed will take a proactive approach and come up with innovative solutions to help their customers.

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