Sunday retail management advice: cut employee theft with better control

Cutting retail employee theft is easy in our experience. We have worked with retailers, police, investigators and insurance companies for decades and still the most common reason theft occurs is because of poor controls.

Retailers who implement recommended controls will experience less theft. That is our experience.

The controls we recommend are:

  1. Balance your cash at the end of each shift. Make employees responsible for balancing.
  2. Do not take cash out without it being recorded.
  3. Owners / managers spend time at the country unexpectedly.
  4. Balance your banking to your cash takings daily.
  5. Balance your actual GP to expected GP for key departments monthly.
  6. Implement a theft policy that all employees are required to sign.

We work with individual businesses on their situation and will happily help any Tower Systems customer in this area.

Employee theft can be cut and we can help achieve this.

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Sunday small business retail management advice: manage theft!

Employee theft and customer theft, like any activity in a retail business, require management. Not encouragement! … management. It starts with tracking, understanding what is being stolen, how often and when. Whether it is cash or products or services, tracking theft is the first step to reducing the cost of theft.

Retailers using the Tower Systems Point of Sale software have excellent tools for tracking and managing theft. Some of these tools are obvious and others are hidden for security reasons.

Through advice sheets, training videos, live training and other access points we help retailers understand their theft management options – all with the goal of reducing the cost of theft to the retail business.

This is another commercial benefit for retailers using our POS software. Retailers who do not use our theft management tools are more open to theft costing more in their business.

 

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Sunday small business retailer management advice: create a THEFT POLICY for your shop

A theft policy is vital for every retail business. here is advice from Tower Systems on what should be in a theft policy. We first provided this to our customers years ago and have recently finessed it based on experiences helping retailers to address theft challenges.

We suggest putting this on a notice board in a common area for employees to read and sign:

THEFT POLICY OF THIS BUSINESS

1. Theft, any theft, is a crime against this business, its owners, employees and others who rely on us for their income.

2. If you discover any evidence or have any suspicion of theft, please report it to the business owner or most senior manager possible immediately. Doing so could save a considerable cost to the business.

3. We have a zero tolerance policy on theft. All claims will be reported to law enforcement authorities for their investigation.

4. From time to time we have the business under surveillance in an effort to reduce theft. This may mean that you are photographed or recorded in some other way. By working here you accept this as a condition of employment.

5. New employees are to provide permission for a police check prior to commencement of employment.

6. Cash is never to be left unattended outside the cash drawer or a safe within the business.

7. Credit and banking card payments are not to be accepted unless the physical card is presented and all required processes are followed for processing these.

8. Employees caught stealing with irrefutable evidence face immediate dismissal to the extent permitted by local labour laws.

9. Employees are not permitted to remove inventory from the store without permission.

10. Employees are not permitted to provide a refund to a customer without appropriate management permission.

11. Employees are not permitted to complete sales to themselves.

12. Every dollar stolen from the business by customers and or employees can cost us up to four dollars to recover. This is why vigilance on theft is mission critical for our retail store.

PLEASE SIGN AND DATE YOUR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THIS POLICY:

Beyond excellent Point of Sale software, Tower Systems helps retailers with practical advice on how to improve their business as well as how to mitigate against expensive business challenges such as employee theft.

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Helping retailers cut employee and customer theft

Tower Systems is delivering practical advice and help to retailers keen to cut employee theft and customer theft in their retail businesses with a free online training workshop this Thursday.  Using our best-practice Point of Sale software we provide access to valuable tools, controls and monitors that actively reduce the cost of theft to a retail business.

This online training is part of a broader live training program we have for retailers using our software. Through this program we deliver not only training but also opportunities for retailers to network. This is invaluable when it comes to theft as retailers get to talk with each other about their situations and from this learn and, hopefully, exert better control over their own businesses.

Too often, retailers act to reduce theft after theft has been discovered. This has proven too late for some businesses. Our theft management tools are comprehensive, secure and ready for use right away without the need to spend any money. This is why it’s vital for retailers to seize the opportunity, to chase a reduction in the cost off theft in their businesses.

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Free small business retail Theft Check service uncovers … theft in retail

Our Tower Systems theft check service has uncovered more employee theft. This time in a couple of retail businesses using our Point of Sale software. In each case, the theft detected is considerable. The evidence we have provided is police ready. This is important. We have police assistance and court expert witness experience and this helps us to better help our retail customers to deal with the scourge of retail employee theft.

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Checking out new security solutions for retailers

One of the areas members of our leadership team investigated when in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show two weeks ago was retail security.

For many years we have offered security camera system integration through our POS software.  We have also provided expert witnesses in police investigations and for court cases pursuing employee theft.

At CES we got to see and interact with a range of new technology, some POS software integrated and others free standing. The CES event has enabled us to be more aware of the latest developments in the retail security and theft prevention in the US, the country most advanced in this field.

The most valuable measure retailers can take against employee theft remains the facilities in their software. Tower Systems is renowned for providing access to comprehensive and professional theft management / reduction facilities in its Point of Sale software. From deep level password protection of key business data to secret tracking of user activity, our software enables retailers to better protect their businesses and thereby reduce the cost of employee theft.

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Working with police to cut theft in retail using smart POS software

We have been working with police and other authorities on theft matters in two states this week. Each case has taken up considerable time as we have sourced evidence to be used in cases being pursued against the accused, evidence that will stand the test of cross examination in court.

Each time we do this work we learn more about the processes of the police and, through this, ways we can guide and help our retail business customers to better manage their businesses for theft minimisation.

Next week, a senior member of our team will be in court on behalf of the prosecution as an expert witness.

Why is this relevant to small businesses considering our Point of Sale software … we’ve got your back when it comes to cutting the cost of theft to your retail business.

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Advice on how to cut customer and employee theft in retail

Retailers too often struggle with cutting the cost of employee and customer theft. They ignore opportunities to block theft and turn their backs on understanding the cost in their business.

Here is best practice advice which, if followed, will reduce the cost of theft in any retail business.

  1. Only sell what you arrive, bring into the store, through Point of Sale software. If you track it you can know if it has been stolen or not. If you do not track it who knows if it is stolen.
  2. Track ALL sales – by scanning, touch screen button or PLU (product look up code), a hot key on your computer screen.
  3. Stop all department sales, sales where the employee gets to enter the amount of the item.
  4. Scan out ALL returns, products which are returned to suppliers.
  5. Undertake regular spot stock take throughout the business. The discrepancy between what you have and what the system has reflects theft.
  6. Reorder stock using your retail management software. This stops poor buying decisions. It also identified stock theft and employee fraud around stock.
  7. Use employee initials, codes or bar codes against each sale. Yes, this adds time to each sale. The benefits far outweigh the time cost.
  8. Set an end of shift balance target of $5.00. Many retailers achieve this – it takes discipline.
  9. Change your system passwords regularly. Make it a condition of employment that these passwords are never shared.
  10. Do random, during the day, register balance checks. Check that the cash your computer system thinks should be in the cash drawer is what is actually in the cash drawer.
  11. Use your software to check and report on behavior which could indicate employee theft.
  12. Follow your suspicions regardless. Put your business ahead of friendships..

The cost to any retail business of customer and employee theft can be significantly reduced. The keys are retail owner and management engagement, full use of the software and relentless application of a zero tolerance approach.

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How we helped a retailer detect and stop employee theft using smart POS software

We have just helped another retailer uncover and resolve a situation of employee theft.  What started as a query about data in our software soon morphed into a professional investigation into systematic fraud.

Thanks to the excellent audit tools in our Point of Sale software we were able to pinpoint the employee stealing from the business.  This was achieved thanks to a hidden and secure log of data managed by our POS software.

Without knowledge of the situation, our analysis of the data from the retail business enabled us to provide information in a form which, if tested in court, would stand up to cross-examination for accuracy in pointing to the employee responsible.

We don’t like catching people stealing from a retail business using our software.  However, we do gain satisfaction when we do discover this and the person responsible admits the theft.

We know from studies that retailers can lose between 3% and 5% of turnover in theft each year.  This can be reduced by retailers using our Point of Sale software if they use the tools available to them in the software to protect the business against theft.

Retailers who do not use the theft prevention tools in our POS software can at least rely on the investigative tools to gather evidence of theft and act after the event.

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Helping jewellers reduce employee theft and customer theft

Jewellers using our jeweller software have access to excellent tools for tracking, managing and reducing employee theft and customer theft.  The value of our tools was on show recently when we helped a jeweller discover that they did not have a data problem but indeed had a theft problem.

So, what started as a support call soon became a business assistance call.

Telling a business owner that they have a theft problem and showing them the evidence is challenging.  First there is usually denial.  This is followed by anger.  Then there is often retribution.  Finally, sometime after the shock of the realisation of theft, acceptance sets in and we can start to make some progress.

In addition to helping to solve the crime of employee theft or customer theft, we find ourselves helping theft affected customers to focus their attention on what is best for the business.  We see this as part of our job.  we train our team to do this work professionally and with care.

As we head into the Christmas trading season we are refreshing our training on theft so that our team and our customers are prepared to make the most of the excellent theft management tools in our software.

We have excellent theft tracking, theft reduction and theft management tools in our software – not only for jewellers but other retailers using our Point of Sale software.  These tool have evolved over time and in response to a broad variety of theft situations we have seen in our own retail businesses as well as in customer businesses.

By using the tools we provide and following the advice we offer, a retail business can expect to easily add valuable dollars to their bottom line for quite a small amount of time and money investment.

In the meantime, another jeweller is better equipped to deal with theft having learnt the hard way.

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Why Cutting Theft is Mission Critical for Retailers

Any retailer complaining about tough times ought to look at what they are doing to mitigate the cost of theft in their business.

Turning attention to theft has an immediate impact on the business. It almost certainly cuts the bleeding of cash and the cost of lost or damaged inventory.

We have seen retailers save as much as $25,000 in the first year of a co-ordinated theft management program. The cost of such a program is negligible if they are running our Point of Sale software.

So, just by following our advice and properly using our software, retailers can expect to save at least the equivalent of 1% of sales. This as good as if they increased sales by 1% without doing anything.

This financial benefit goes straight to the bottom line.

While everyone is talking retail down, we are showing our retail customers how to improve their circumstances through a more complete embrace of the facilities in our Point of Sale software.

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On Site Training For Help Desk Team Members

We have been engaging more of our Help desk team members with on-site installation and training visits, with a member of our specialist on-store installation team, to broaden their practical experiences with our software and our customers.

Each such visit runs from two to five days and exposes the help desk team member to real life situations around the use of our software. It better informs their view of how the software is used and retail business practices which link with services provided within our software.

This additional on-site training is being provided in a number of retail business types across several states – to ensure a broad range of experience for our team members.

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Steps For Cutting Retail Theft by Employees and Customers

The risk of capture is a big deterrent to any type of theft. This is especially true in retail where customer and employee theft can hurt a business financially and emotionally in a short space of time.

Anyone who thinks they may get caught is far less likely to attempt theft. This is what police and retail theft experts around the world say. It reinforces the value of a professional, properly setup and fully utilised theft management solution in a any retail business.

Thanks to smart theft management tools and our integrated security camera system, Tower Systems is able to help retailers cut the cost of theft by enabling a reliable in-store deterrent.

Shoppers and employees are regularly reminded in a number of ways that the business is monitored, cash and inventory are watched and processes are followed to reduce the opportunity for theft without arrest. From the obvious in-store monitors to more subtle ways, the presence of monitoring and possible theft tracking helps retailers to cut the cost of theft.

We have been working in the theft management space for many years with retailers. Our latest retail theft management tools continue the evolution and deliver best practice to our retail customers regardless of size or business niche.

Using our theft management tools, retailers using our Point of Sale software are able to better manage their businesses and cut theft at the same time. The two goals go hand in hand.

From the sales counter to the back office and on the shop floor we track activity and connect this with actions in our Point of Sale software. At the sales counter, for example, we lay transaction details over vision from the security cameras. This can be vital in helping prosecutors build a case against an employee as is provides a court with another item of evidence which is not open to speculation.

Theft can kill a retail business. Here at Tower Systems our goal is to help our retailers to cut theft to the barest minimum. In addition to excellent software can an integrated camera system for achieving this, we provide regular training and assistance in this area.

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Using a Security System to Cut Retail Theft

With the prevalence and cost of theft in retail by employees and customers remaining high, more retailers are looking for smarter solutions to address the scourge.

A camera system integrated with your Point of Sale software is ideal in that it directly marries Point of Sale software register activity with visual evidence of what was happening at the same time.

By connection vision of what happens at the sales counter and other key activvity points in a retail business with transactions put through the Point of sale software, the business owner has access to valuable data which could show:

  1. Sales being canceled and cash being pocketed by the employee.
  2. Fraudulent activity around receiving goods into the business.
  3. Theft during the end of shift process.
  4. Fraud by a customer in handling change during a sale transaction.
  5. Inappropriate discounts being given to customers.
  6. Sales being deleted to build a pool of ‘unrecorded’ cash available for theft.
  7. Items being deleted from a sale during the sale process and thereby freeing ‘unrecorded’ cash for theft.

Connecting your Point of Sale software with a camera based security system could provide the evidence which is essential to capture and prosecution of people responsible for stealing from your retail business.

Tower Systems offers an integrated smart security solution for retail businesses.  It has been used successfully in the detection or retail employees engaged in criminal activity against their employers.  We have experts on our team who can and do help retailers cut the cost of theft.

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Retail Theft on the Increase

We are seeing an increase in theft in retail businesses, especially theft by employees.  Employee theft is more easily detected and controlled than customer theft, especially in retail bsinesses using our Point of sale and Theft Management solutions.

Earlier this week we provided retailers using our Point of Sale software with refreshed advice on managing the theft challenge.  This advice coupled with our free theft check service help equip tower Systems retailers with tools with which to minimise the cost of theft.

Our assistance around theft goes beyond the traditional training and support assistance.  In a few weeks, for example, one of our senior management team is being flown interstate as an expert witness for the prosecution in a complex employee theft case.  While the cost and disruption to our business from providing this resource is considerable, our involvement demonstrates a level of expertise and commitment which is unique among Point of Sale companies.

Retailers using our software have access to excellent tools with which to manage and cut theft.  If is far better that these tools are used than relying on us to act an as expert witness after a theft event.

Here is a summary of tools and support assistance we offer to retailers for managing and reducing theft:

  1. Theft management advice for using tools within our software.  Check out Advice Sheet BA05.
  2. Robust theft tracking reporting within our software including our Audit Log which has been instrumental in facilitating convictions.
  3. Free Theft Check service. Our experts check business data and can identify potential theft situations.
  4. Business operations audit.  This fee based on site service can assess a business from a theft perspective and provide operational recommendations.
  5. Online training workshops.  We provide live training in the theft management and security facilities in our software – for business owners only.

These are other services combine to provide a whole of business service in the area of theft management and reduction.  The results speak for themselves.  Discovery. Theft reduction.  Convictions.  Business owners recovering stolen cash.

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Expert Witness Role in Another Retail Theft Case

One of our team members has been called as an expert witness in a criminal case involving alleged employee theft.  Thanks to years of work in this area we are able to speak to the integrity of the data captured by our Point of Sale software and provide evidence around patterns of behaviour shown through analysis of the data.

Almost every day we find ourselves helping another customer on a case of suspected employee theft.  We have seen more instanced reported so far this year than for the same period in any year past.  This is most concerning.

We will be sharing insights and advice on dealing with employee theft at our face to face user meetings planned to start next month.  We are also preparing a new training video on the issue of employee theft, to help our customers take steps to better protect their businesses.

While we are happy to help our with police investigations and to have our experts called for court appearances, we would prefer to focus on helping our retail customers avoid theft altogether.  This is where our advice can help retailers avoid the problem altogether.

Retailers using our software can have their risk assessed through our free Theft Check service.  This is another Tower Advantage TM service.

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12 steps to cutting theft in any retail business

We published the following retail theft reduction advice to our 2,500 Point of Sale software customers earlier this week.

Retailers who follow this advice are better positioned to cut employee theft, customer theft and general shrinkage in their retail stores.  While we wrote the advice for our customers, it can be applied to most good Point of Sale systems.

  1. Only sell what you arrive through our software.
  2. Track ALL sales – by scanning, touch screen button or PLU.
  3. Stop all department sales.
  4. Scan our ALL returns.
  5. Undertake regular spot stocktake throughout the business. The discrepancy between what you have and what the system has reflects theft.
  6. Reorder stock using the software. This stops poor buying decisions. It also identified stock theft and employee fraud around stock.
  7. Use employee initials, codes or barcodes for each sale. Yes this adds time to each sale. The benefits far outweigh the time cost.
  8. Set an end of shift balance target of $5.00. Many Tower customers achieve this – it takes discipline.
  9. Change your system password regularly.
  10. Do random, during the day, register balance checks.
  11. Use your software to check and report on behaviour which could indicate employee theft.
  12. Follow your suspicions regardless. Put your business ahead of friendships.

We have been on a mission in 2010 to get our retail partners to engage more actively in using the facilities within our software to cut theft.

Based on the feedback we have received and the police investigations in which we have been involved in providing evidence, our focus has been beneficial to many of our customers.

The cost to any retail business of customer and employee theft can be significantly reduced. The keys are retail owner and management engagement, full use of the software and relentless application of a zero tolerance approach.

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Christmas retail theft advice

With sales up and cash in the business up, Christmas time is the time for retailers to be vigilant in managing cash.  From taking care at the counter in customer interaction to ensuring honesty of employees, now is the time to revisit processes to ensure that the business is protected.

  1. Use employee initials for each sale.  yes this adds time to each sale.  The benefits far outweigh the time cost.
  2. Require that the amount tendered be entered for each sale.
  3. Run refresher training on handling giving change.
  4. remind your team about counterfeit notes.
  5. Be on the lookout for over the counter scams.
  6. Take a zero tolerance approach to end of shift balancing.
  7. Do spot cash balancing during the day, at random times.
  8. Use stock control for high at-risk items such as cigarettes. This will quickly identify a theft problem.  Indeed, you should use full stock control for all stock items.
  9. Talk to Tower Systems about theft check options within our Point of Sale software.

Yes, some of these measures take time.  The financial saving from greater vigilance to the business could be considerable.

Christmas in retail is a time of higher than usual risk.  Take care. If tower Systems can help in any way, please contact us.

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Customer theft and employee theft training videos coming

We are finalising the production of two free training videos covering Retail Employee Theft and Retail Customer Theft.  These training videos will discuss the problem and share tips on how to minimise the impact of each type of theft in a retail business.

We understand the cost of theft from our work with our customers and as expert witnesses working with the police and prosecutors in various states. In developing content for the training videos we have taken on board the advice of the police and the experiences of others which we have been privy to.

Our goal has been to develop advice with is useful right away without needing to spend any additional money to reduce the opportunity for theft.

We hope to have the two new training videos published later this week.

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Using Point of Sale software to protect against customer fraud

Our Point of Sale software can help retailers protect against customer fraud.  Using our software, our retail customers are able to better protect against common fraud conducted at the counter by skilled criminals.

Here are just some of the ways our software is helping retailers reduce the cost of customer fraud.

  1. Receipt checking.  By scanning a receipt, a past sale is immediately brought up for verification before a refund is considered.
  2. Refund management.  Thanks to clever search tools, retail employees are able to verify when an item was sold – in case a receipt is not returned with the goods.
  3. Checking change.  Users can setup the system to require that receipts always show change.
  4. Security controls.  Sophisticated security facilities within our software deny employees the ability to process a refund unless they have been explicitly granted security clearance.
  5. Eftpos integration.  Using the integrated Tyro broadband eftpos solution, a processing step is eliminated, meaning an opportunity for fraud is eliminated.

The most important way to protect against customer fraud is to have well defined and understood operational processes at the retail sales counter.  These processes can be better managed and driven thanks to facilities in our Point of Sale software.

Retail businesses hit by customer fraud tend to have a lazy approach to managing the sales counter, inviting financial harm to the business.

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Helping retailers reduce customer theft

Customers steal from retail businesses. Not every customer but enough to create cost the business considerably. Total retail theft is between 2% and 5% in retail businesses around the world. Customer theft is usually around half of this.

Retailers can cut customer theft by following six simple rules:

1. Acknowledge people when they enter. If people know that you have seen them, they are less likely to take the risk of stealing.
2. Work the shop floor. This increases the chances of seeing suspicious behavior. If they think there is a rick of getting caught they will move on.
3. Strict policy on refunds – if you can’t prove it refuse the refund. One way people steal is to take the item and return it for a cash refund. Businesses which permit this without receipts or at least a management process open themselves to this fraud.
4. Check change. There are many skilled scammers who talk with retail employees while change is being given. This can confuse and lead to too much change being given.
5. Show. Show shoppers that you are video taping them. Do this with a screen at or near the entrance. The more people feel they will be caught the less likely they are to steal from you.
6. Understand.  Know what is being stolen by using your Point of Sale technology.  This will help you make decisions which reduce the cost of theft.

Customers steal because they can. Retailers who take a professional and consistent approach to reducing theft are more likely to experience reduced theft.

We know a bit about this area because of work we have done helping retailers resolve theft issues. Our people have been used as an expert witness in several court cases and have assisted police in multiple jurisdictions to catch customers stealing.

Take your time to assess the business and the risks it presents. Develop a plan and bring your key employees in on the plan. Follow the plan and measure results.

We have seen the cost of customer theft halved in three months by a retail business following a well constructed plan.

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Retail theft help service popular

Our offer to help retailers research and address theft in retail is being taken up by many.  From reviewing activity files for patterns which may indicate theft to providing expert witness statements to professional investigators, we help our retail customers address the challenge of retail theft.

There has been a surge in the use of our theft related services this year, in the last quarter especially.

The ideal situation is the blocking of theft.  Our Point of Sale software provides excellent tools for achieving this.  Unfortunately, no matter what barriers are in place, an employee or customer desperate to steal will find a way which they think is undetected.

One challenge is in ensuring that we are providing advice to the right person.  We have been approached by people representing themselves as business owners seeking advice to get into the secure area of our POS software to change what could be important evidence.  This is one reason we do not publish here or elsewhere greater detail about the theft management facilities in our software.

Sooner or later, theft in retail is discovered.  Our commitment to our customers is to do everything possible to lead to early detection and a certain outcome for the business.

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Tyro broadband eftpos driving good retail business

With hundreds of users of our Point of Sale software now processing eftpos transactions through the Tyro broadband eftpos interface, we are building excellent data on the business benefits.

Tyro is saving our retail users, including our own retail businesses, time and money with a faster and mroe secure solution.  Since our software communicates directly with the EFTPOS terminal, we reduce internal fraud and errors.

Here are the key benefits our customers tell us about:

  • Speed and efficiency (transaction time less than 4 seconds)
  • Lower costs (no phone line, no admin fees, free paper rolls)
  • Low integration set up costs
  • Low merchant service fees negotiated by Tower Systems
  • Reduced internal and shop front fraud
  • Secure, real-time online reporting

The Tower Systems / Tyro integration offers improved efficiency and accuracy – as we are seeing ourselves in our own retail businesses.  Yes, we used this ourselves to prove its worth first.

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How change can help cut theft in retail

Theft in retail businesses often relies on regular work and operational patterns being followed: the banking being done at the same time, the refund policy being lax when managed by some staff, checking the cash banked back to takings being lax, the bins always being empties by the same person and so on.

By regularly changing processes, a business can make theft harder to perpetrate.

I know of a retail business which uncovered employee theft by changing the bin emptying process.  I know another business which uncovered theft by changing the people who balanced the cash at the end of the day.  I know of another retail business which cut theft by requiring the owner to approve all refund requests.

Theft in retail, customer theft and employee theft, can be cut by setting policies, adhering to them and ensuring that all employees adhere to them.

Our Point of sale software can also help retailers cut theft thanks to a range of public and not so public facilities which protect the interests of the business owners.  These facilities, like business policies, require setting.  Once done, the Tower Systems software monitors activity and can warn you of potential misbehaviour.

Theft kills retail businesses.  It is easier to stop than many think.

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