Sunday retail management advice: how to cut employee theft in retail

Theft is something to be managed in your business. You will be stolen from. Good management is about reducing the opportunity for and instances of theft.

Follow this advice and the opportunity for theft will be lower and the certainty of detecting it higher.

Unfortunately, many retailers read up to here and think this will to happen to them.  Too many of these business owners are the ones who do experience the hurt of employee theft.

If you are still reading, well done. Here are simple steps you can take to catch and manage employee theft:

  1. Use stock control for a high volume high interest category (if not all stock). Enter new stock as it comes in, scan all sales and only reorder based on what you software says. Every month do a stock take. Stock discrepancies of the right item are an indicator of theft. Had one retailer we know of been doing this they would have caught their $250 a day employee theft months earlier.
  2. Scan everything you sell. Do not use department keys as this makes it easier for employees to steal since they know there is no trackback to stock on hand. Using department keys is an invitation to steal.
  3. Do your end of shift through your software and have a zero-tolerance policy on being over or under. Reconcile banking to your computer software end of shift. One retail business where this was not done was being skimmed regularly for $200 a day.
  4. Do spot cash balancing. Unexpected checks can uncover surprises. One retailer needing to do a banking during the day uncovered a $350 discrepancy that lead to discovery of systematic theft.
  5. Change your roster. Sometimes people work together to steal. One retailer found a family friend senior and their teenage daughter stealing consistently.
  6. Check your Audit Log. Look at cancelled sales, deleted sales and items deleted from a sale. Leaving a cash drawer open from the previous sale, scanning items, taking the cash and cancelling the sale is the most common process used by employees to accrue cash they then take from you. Good software tracks cancelled sales and what was in them. This can be matched with video footage.
  7. Check GP by department. If GP is falling outside what you expect, research it further.
  8. Setup a theft policy. Put this on a noticeboard in the back room. Get staff to read it and sign up to it. See the last page of this advice.
  9. Keep the counter clean. A better organised counter reduces the opportunity for theft as it makes detection easier.
  10. Have a no employee bags at the counter policy. This makes it harder for them to hide your cash.
  11. Beware employees who carry folded paper or small notepads. These can be used for them to keep track of how much cash is in the register that is theirs – i.e. not rung up in the software.
  12. Beware of calculators with memories at the counter. One employee used the memory function to track how much cash had to be stolen prior to balancing for the day – cash from sales not rung up.
  13. Do not let employees sell to themselves. If they want to purchase something make them purchase it from the other side of the counter.
  14. Be professional in your management of the business. The more professional your approach they less likely your employees will steal as they will see the risk of being caught as high.
  15. Advise all job applicants that you will require their permission for a police check. From the outset this indicates that you take your business seriously. In many situations applicants who have been asked for permission to do a police check advise they have found a job elsewhere.
  16. Do not take cash out for your own use in front of employees. If they see you take cash for a coffee or lunch some will see this as an invitation.

These steps work – based on decades of helping newsagents to reduce and manage employee theft.

Theft, employee and customer, costs a typical retail between 3% and 5% of sales revenue. Management attention can cut this dramatically. It does not take much time. No, it is more about having professional processes in place which everyone in the business follows.

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Learning from US retail experiences to provide enhanced POS software

usretailWe are fortunate to have been part of a retail study tour of innovative retail situations in the US over the last ten days across three states.

We have looked at large, small, city, regional, specialty, mass, experimental and traditional businesses.

The insights gained are feeding into plans for our software beyond the wonderful advice and feedback from our existing customers.

The insights gained range from the retail management practical through to next-gen opportunities.Being on-trend is an important to retail focussed POS software companies as it is to retailers themselves.

Competition in our various specialist retail channels being what it is, we will not be sharing any insights here. Rather, our customers will have more private briefing opportunities and our software will deliver insights through change.

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Sunday retail management advice: cut keystrokes, cut mistakes

Every keystroke using POS software at the counter is a possible mistake. Eliminating keystrokes at the retail counter ought to be mission critical for retailers.

The fastest way to sell is to scan a barcode. If that is not appropriate for a product, you need alternatives appropriate to the product, the frequency of sale and the traffic flow of the business.

Our retail management software offers options via which you can sell for the fewest number of keystrokes possible. Whether the items are high end jewellery selling for tens of thousands of dollars, a collectible piece, a magazine or pet food, we have rapid and accurate sales recording options to suit.

In one case recently we showed a retailer how they could eliminate close to 1,000 keystrokes. That is 1,000 possible mistakes eliminated, time sale and business performance and efficiency approved.

Look at your keystrokes on any given day and consider whether you could benefit your business by eliminating keystrokes.

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Discussing the future of retail

touchThe CEO of Tower Systems is today participating in a retail forum in Sydney hosted by Touch and featuring a range of speakers from around the the world and representing businesses such as 7-Eleven, Amazon and others.

In addition to gaining retail insights from presentations we are tapping into valuable networking opportunities with others engaged in supporting retailers. the case studies so far are fascinating.

Tower Systems is a partner of Touch and offers its suite through the Tower software.

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Helping retailers prepare for BOXING DAY SALES

discoubtWe’ve had plenty of POS software help desk calls this week from retailers asking questions about setting their businesses up to handle Boxing Day sales.

Using our software it’s easy and flexible to setup for handling special event sales – retailers have many options for sales from individual to price to volume and mix and match discounts – that run by date and by time. flexibility is discounting is important in retail today as retailers compete with each other – especially at these major sale times.

Our smart POS software makes managing discounting easy and secure for our partner businesses.

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Sunday retail management advice: use QR codes to drive shopper engagement

logo138Tower Systems has developed for small business retailers a FREE cloud based QR code accessible content hosting and shopper interaction platform.

QRKI offers excellent facilities for allowing in-store and out of store access to product videos, instruction files, competition entries and other information sharing and harvesting opportunities.

Free from Tower for any business, QR code is another example of Tower Systems helping small and independent retail businesses to use technology to compete.

We created QRki to help small businesses harness the opportunity of QR codes without needing to invest in software of their own.

We’ve kept the price low to make access affordable. It’s part of our commitment to small businesses and independent retailers.  We’ve also enabled QRki for anyone to use – you don’t need to be a Tower Systems customer.

Developed in Australia but for use from anywhere in the world, QRki is another example of cloud based innovation for small businesses.

Share your feedback at info@qrki.com.au.  You can also speak direct with the owner of Tower Systems, Mark Fletcher, on 0418 321 338 (+61 418 321 338).

We hope your like QRki.

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Sunday retail business management tip: have your employees sign up to a theft policy

Tower Systems senior management have been called on by prosecutors in several jurisdictions as expert witnesses in situations of employee theft. This work as well as our investigative work leading up to capture and prosecution has provided us with many insights.

One key insight is that businesses need to be clear with employees from the outset about business policies regarding theft.

Here is our suggested Theft Policy advice retailers should have employees agree to:

  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. Undertaking the police check will be at our discretion.
  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.

Feel free to copy.

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Sunday retail business management advice: how to run a fit and healthy business

Retail is tough. Small business retail is tougher. Too often, challenges encountered by small business retailers are of their own doing. Like personal health, our choices impact our situation.

Here is some of our best practice advice for a healthy and prosperous retail business from the perspective of a POS software company.

  1. Scan everything you sell.
  2. Enter into your computer system all stock you receive and all stock you return to suppliers.
  3. Use your software to create orders for replenishment stock.
  4. Balance your registers every day using your software.
  5. Do spot stock takes for popular items to check for theft.
  6. Measure performance by department, category and supplier. Do more of what works and less of what does not work.
  7. Compare your performance this year to last year. Fix what is not working.
  8. Use your software as your eyes and ears. Good POS software has excellent back end reportage to let you see how your staff use the software.
  9. Train your staff to be fit for purpose in using the software.
  10. Focus on many small steps towards success rather than one big step.

We see many retail businesses prospering through smart engagement with the facilities in our POS software.

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More retailers driving shopper traffic and sales with

rewardsvoucherThis different type of shopper loyalty reward from within our Tower Systems Point of Sale software, a  Rewards Voucher thanks a customer for shopping and gives than $1.25 they can spend right away on something else.

Owners of gift shops, garden centres, pet shops, jewellers and newsagencies have shared data with us showing the valuable bottom-line effectiveness of these rewards Vouchers, effectiveness at bringing shoppers back days later as well as effectiveness in getting one-time-only shoppers purchasing something else in the business.

The business performance results for the vouchers in some businesses are extraordinary with many businesses reporting double-digit year on year growth … wonderful bankable results.

We are thrilled to be part of this success story.

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Sunday small business retail management advice: be ready for EOFY

The End of the Financial Year (EOFY) is when many businesses do housekeeping such as stock takes, clearing out junk and resetting the business. Here is our recommended EOFY checklist:

  1. Do a stock take.
  2. Sell off stock that has not moved in six months.
  3. Audit your computer system data to ensure you are using the software well.
  4. Check margins to ensure you are earning the most from each product.
  5. Reset reorder triggers.
  6. Refresh your employee training so that they make the best use of your POS software.
  7. Step bak and look at your business as see opportunities for change in the new financial year.

Tower Systems is already helping early adopter retailers with many of these tasks as they started planning for EOFY weeks ago. Our online training workshops are filling up, our free one on one training opportunities are being embraced, our knowledge base advice on EOFY is popular. We are thrilled to see retailer engagement so early.

Big retail businesses make a lot of noise this time of the year for their stock take sales. Small and independent retailers could benefit from getting in early – ahead of the others.

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Australian POS software that focuses on profit

Our core focus as a POS software company is to create software and provide services that help our retail partners improve the profit of their businesses.

Without profit, any business is dead. This is especially true in small and independent retail businesses where the hours can be long and the challenges considerable. Profit is the marker of success, the pay off if you will.

Small and independent retail business owners need to focus on profit. Our software helps them do this through smart reports, helpful guidance tools and in other ways. We help them drive gross profit per item sold, cut the labour cost of every dollar of sales revenue and guide their decisions based on facts rather than feelings.

Any POS software can transact sales and tell you what you did, who did it and when … smart POS software will tell you this and offer insights beyond these simple measures. It will guide a business to make more money. This is what makes a retail business more valuable. It helps the owner get a better price when they sell the business. It makes the business more appealing to a lender.

While some retail business owners look at a POS software purchase decision as a technical decision, the reality is that it is a business management decision. It is best to approach it as you would selecting a new partner for your business.

Software companies that are accessible to you, that offer live in-store training, that understand your unique business and that engage with you in a non technical way … these are the software companies more likely to be of use to you as you seek to make your retail business more profitable.

Tower Systems serves close to 3,000 small and independent retailers in Australia.

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POS software helps independent retailers up-sell

kidssandOur Tower Systems Point of Sale software prompts retail associates when a customer has an opportunity for a better deal. Pitched well to shoppers this can help increase a shopper’s spend in a visit.

An example of this is on show in Australia in the current school holidays. Smart newsagents are selling kinetic sand – in three sizes. The bigger the size the better the value per kilo. Prompting the retail associate with this information during the sale can help them give the customer information that could lead to a larger purchase.

The prompt makes the associate more knowledgable and it facilitates an opportunity that customers could appreciate.

While any POS software can transact a sale, it takes smart POS software to help a retail business maximise every customer contact opportunity.

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And so starts a crazy two weeks in retail

This week is a short week for many with Easter covering Friday through Monday and then at the end of next week is Anzac Day. It’s not often that we have so many holidays so close to each other at this time of the year so it will be interesting for retailers, challenging too depending on their situation.

It’s at a time like this that retailers are likely to see shoppers who are not regulars. This is where our immediate loyalty engagement tools can be useful to grow spend per shop rather than focussing on the longer term shopper.

One of the beauties of our immediate loyalty engagement tools is that they can be turned off and on at will. For example, a retailer could fire up the brilliant and much-loved discount vouchers for these two weeks targeting infrequent shoppers with a goal of increasing spend per visit.

Sometimes we need to look at the tools we have at our disposal differently. Our discount vouchers facilities can be used in a range of different ways to drive good outcomes for our retail partners.

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Sunday small business retail management advice: use your POS data to negotiate your rent

Good POS software can be useful in a rent negotiation as it can provide irrefutable evidence necessary in discussions with your landlord about rent as a percentage of sales, percentage of gross profit and rent in the context of footfall.

Being able to slice and dice retail business data using our POS software can empower retailers with valuable data with which they can make better business decisions and through which they can navigate to a better rent outcome.

Here at Tower Systems we leverage our own experience owning and operating retail businesses and using our own POS software to help retailers negotiate rent deals. Beyond the Point of Sale software we can provide understanding and assistance to our retail partners. But it all starts with good business data. landlords cannot challenge accurate business data and often the data we can provide access to is more accurate than any data the landlord may have since we get to the source.

If you are a small business retailer and feel challenged by the rent you are paying our advice is to leverage your POS data to make a case to the landlord for more equitable retail rent terms. A good POS software company will help.

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Helping small business retailers save money on EFTPOS fees & time at the sales counter

As a POS software company working with close to 3,000 retailers, we have experience dealing with all the major banks when it comes to EFTPOS and offering EFTPOS solutions at the retail sales counter.

In our software today we have EFTPOS processing links to a range of third parties as well as direct to banks.

It is our experience that retailers linking to Tyro broadband EFTPOS experience faster processing, fewer operational problems, easier setup and better customer service than any other EFTPOS connection. This is why we recommend Tyro to our small business retail customers.

Thanks to excellent assistance and communication from and with the team at Tyro, we are able to triage any operational issue and usually resolve it immediately. This provides our retail business customers with a one stop shop. This is far better than having to navigate a third party who then has to navigate your bank’s support service. In that scenario it could take days to resolve an issue. Thanks to the Tyro approach, the few problems reported are resolved quickly.

Choosing the right EFTPOS solution is important for small and independent retail businesses. It’s what happens at the counter that matters the most. Fast and accurate processing are the most important goals followed by easy setup.

Major banks tend to lock retailers into long term contracts that have a breakage cost. This can lock small business retailers into poor service and higher than necessary fees. Thanks to Tyro we are able to deliver to small and independent retail businesses a more cost effective solution. Tyro helps newsagents ensure that the solution is right for them without the need for a long term contract.

Our advice to retailers considering EFTPOS is – buyer beware. That big bank that says it has a great deal is a big bank – when was the last time a big bank put the needs of small retailers ahead of their appetite for profit.

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The receipt is an important document and marketing tool in retail

wincarrecpTower Systems is helping small business newsagents leverage their receipts to engage with a high profile competition being run by Pacific Magazines – offering further support to our position that the receipt is a vitally important business development and marketing tool.

Beyond detailing what was purchased, a good receipt can get a shopper back sooner, it can get them spending more right away and it can make them feel even better about shopping with the business.

The key to leveraging the retail receipt for maximum value to a retail business is the relevance of what is on the receipt. It is important that any pitch or promotion is relevant to this customer at this time. This is where Point of Sale software can help.

Our experience is that retail businesses that use the receipt as a marketing tool are more likely to be growing and achieving a deeper basket with existing customers. For next to no cost they are embracing another customer touch-point. Enough customers respond to make it valuable.

In the two examples you can see a WIN A CAR promotion being pitched on the receipts. The receipt on the right includes a QR code for rapid shopper engagement. By helping our retail newsagency customers serve these coupons we are helping them connect with a major supplier initiative quickly, easily and professionally.

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Learning retail insights from Monash University experts

We are benefiting from a briefing into the latest retail experts delivered today by experts from the Monach University Australian Centre for Retail Studies.  ARCS is a leader in their field:

ACRS is an independent retail and consumer research centre based within the Department of Marketing in the Faculty of Business and Economics at Monash University, Caulfield Campus. The ACRS provides a range of research and consulting services to the private sector and government clients, with a particular emphasis on retail and consumer research. Research priorities are developed in consultation with industry clients and promote research-based knowledge and thought leadership.

Participation in today’s briefing was organised through an appreciated supplier relationship.

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Taking pride in POS software labels

pos-labelsThe options we offer in labels produced by our Point of Sale software are considerable and have been for many years. In addition to supporting laser labels and single strip labels, we also offer our customers tremendous flexibility in label design – and have done for many years.

Our labels  reflect a quality and professionalism customers love. They are customer friendly – easy to read. Too often labels produced by POS software are hard for the human eye to read, they are feint and for tech solution than retail solution.

Thanks to the label options offered from the Tower software retailers can produce labels they want on stock they want – punch what matters most to retailers and their customers.

Professional labels can help retail businesses grow sales and reduce theft.

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Helping small business retailers enjoy their businesses more

receiptsnotesRunning a retail business is hard work in today’s retail environment. It is especially challenging for small business independent retailers. Beyond the challenges of landlord, employee, supplier and general economic issues and challenges, there is the overall motivation to be on every day, often seven days a week.

While we are a POS software company, the relationship we have with our customers is one that looks at the whole of the business. We embrace opportunities to help our customers enjoy their business more. From helpful POS software support to providing encouragement on ways to manage the business with less stress, we genuinely partner with our small business retailer customers.

Retailers can enjoy their business more by bringing more structure to what they do. The more structure the more business tasks that can be undertaken by others in the business. This helps improve certainty and it helps share the load. This can make life more enjoyable for owners and more fulfilling for retail employees.

In the Tower Systems POS software retailers can systemise / structure processes around product ordering, pricing, range reviews, rostering, selling, Lay-Bys, discounting and other business processes from the day to day through to the bigger picture tasks. we can offer our customers exampled of how to do this and through this work how to find more enjoyment in owning and operating the business.

One of the biggest stressors for retailers is that they feel alone. Through our work with retailers and the assistance services we offer we try and help them feel less alone, we try and show them practical support for the day to day and the big picture business planning and management.

We love this part of our work – the broad extent to which we can engage with our retail partners. It’s fun and rewarding. We’re grateful for the opportunity.

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Ways small business retailers can refresh their view of their business

WARNING: This blog post has some crazy ideas you’d not expect from a POS software company.

In our work with small business retailers we often hear about burnout, retailers being tired and over the grind of opening the shop working all day, closing, getting little sleep and doing it all again. They are often too tired to be innovative in their approach to business.

Call us crazy but we have some ideas designed to help small business retailers reconnect with their businesses. They are unconventional. They are free. They are fun. They are designed to get you looking, hearing and smelling your business differently. They are designed to open your eyes to opportunities you may be missing.

Are you ready? Here are our unconventional ideas for refreshing your views of your small retail business – in the hope that you find opportunities you were not seeing.

  1. Go to your shop at night time. Leave the lights off. Put a chair on the middle of the shop floor. Sit down. Take your shoes and socks or stockings off. Put a blindfold on. Soak it up. What do you smell? What do you hear? Is there any sense of place that you get from being there.  Be still for fifteen minutes or so thinking about this. Breathe deeply. How does your shop smell? Does it have a smell? If not, why not? Then take the blindfold off and look around you for another fifteen minutes. Finally, get up – with your shoes and socks or stockings still off – and walk around the shop. Take in the environment you are in control of. Let the ideas flow. If you want to take it to a deeper level, lie down on the floor on your back and look up and around – kind of up-skirt your own shop while it’s empty!
  2. Get a stool or fold up chair, pack a lunch and spend at least three lunchtimes in a week sitting opposite the entrance to your shop watching customers. Don’t write anything down, just watch. Preferably do this without people noticing you. Wear a disguise if necessary. Watch intently. See where people go, what they pick up, what they buy if possible. Try and predict what they will do. Watch and think. Watch and think.
  3. Get a small desk and a sign for the desk that says CUSTOMER SERVICE. Place the desk near the front door of your shop. Set yourself up at the desk, sitting behind it. Dress formally, old school. Like in a 1950s movie preferably. Sit up straight. Look the part. Sit and wait and see what comes your way. Have fun interactive with customers. The desk should look out of place but it should also look fun. The idea is that your customers, your staff and you will be a bit shaken up by the change. See what comes your way.

We have more crazy ideas. These barely scratch the surface of the crazy idea cupboard. Just ask.

We’re here to help small business retailers create and run successful independent small local retail businesses. Our help goes beyond our software. Were retailers too and love being able to talk retail with anyone.

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Post Christmas retail sales strong

Post Christmas / Boxing Day sales have been excellent according to some of the retailers in our Point of Sale software user community over the last couple of days. Several we have spoken with indicate sales are up close to 10% on last year. This result is even better given that it is on the back of an excellent Christmas result with those sales up close to 10% as well.

Sometimes we see post Christmas sales down when pre Christmas sales are up and vice versa. This year we are seeing people growing in both situations, indicating a more general upturn being experienced by these businesses.

Sporrting trends early is vital in retail as you are then able to respond more appropriately. You don’t want to be in a situation where you you spot a trend long after it first occurred as that could mean you have missed opportunities.

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Pitching savings an important use of the retail shopper receipt

rcptdiscWe encourage retailers to use their receipt as an extension of their marketing activity. An excellent example of this is when a business sells products for lower than their recommended retail. The saving is listed on the receipt – reminding the shopper of how much they saved by shopping in the business.

While some customers don’t give receipts a second look, others do read them once they return home. The discount off RRP is a terrific message for this shopper. It’s an invitation for them to consider the business again.

Even the smallest steps are important in cultivating your connection with customers. Our experience in our own retail businesses is that receipts can drive sales.

Through training videos, our online knowledge base and live support we can help our POS software customers to make better use of their receipts and through this make more money.

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