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.

How to Cut Employee Theft in Retail

Employee theft can cost a retail business tens of thousands of dollars a year yet it is a business challenge which is all too often ignored.

Retailers tend to prefer to think that it does not happen to them.

Employee theft is real.

Tower Systems has experienced it itself in its own retail stores. These experiences and experiences helping our retail customers have enabled us to develop better software and infrastructure for supporting our customers in tracking and eliminating the cost of employee theft.

Retailers using our Point of Sale software have at their disposal tools which absolutely reduce the opportunity for employee theft.

From the sales counter to the back office, our Point of Sale software provides for secure, tracked and consistent processes for protecting the assets, including, cash, of the business.

The key for retailers and retail managers is to engage with the theft reduction tools available in the software.

We encourage our customers to take a zero tolerance approach. Employees stealing from you need to manipulate data in some way. For example, if their sales per hour worked are far lower than others then they could simple not be using the computer system. However, you would have detected off behaviour from your inventory system when reordering stock.

Good management processes followed with commitment and care will uncover theft quickly. Businesses without these are at greater risk. Is your retail business at risk?

Use our Point of Sale software, embrace and engage with every opportunity it presents for tracking and reducing employee theft in your retail business.

Through our Tower Advantage TM program we offer a range of services to our customers for identifying and cutting the cost of theft in a retail business.   This includes our free Theft Check service  to determine if our software has evidence of your business experiencing theft.

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.

Helping Retailers Reduce Employee and Customer Theft

With theft in retail businesses almost at epidemic proportions and employee theft accounting for the majority of this, our free online Retail Security and Theft workshop next Tuesday is most timely.

In the retail business owner only session we will cover how retailers can use our Point of Sale software to reduce the impact of theft in their businesses.  We will show off theft tracking as well as theft reduction facilities.  Participants will be left with an action plan for investigating and reducing theft.

Smart retailers who engage with the proven theft management tools in our software are able to better insulate their businesses against the cost of theft and better investigate and deal with any suspicious behaviour.  Our online training shares vital knowledge which helps more of our retail customers get to this place.

In addition to this regularly run online training workshop, we offer a free Theft Check service as well as assistance helping retailers navigate theft situations.

The High Emotional Cost of Employee Theft in Retail

Beyond the financial cost and regardless of the size of the theft, employee theft in a retail business can come at a huge cost to the business, those who work in it and the owners.

The impact can be felt for years after employee theft is discovered.

We often find ourselves working with retailers on employee theft situations.  While primarily focused on gathering evidence, our work has been known to involve offering support for retail business owners and their employees in dealing with the knock-on effects of theft.

Often, the person caught stealing from a retail business is one of the most trusted employees. This is where the high emotional cost kicks in. It is not uncommon for them to be a long term employee who has the trust and respect of the business owners.  Often, it has been a relative of the owner or at least someone treated as a relative or a member of the family.

We see the impact of the theft flowing in waves:

  1. Typically, the retail business owners blame themselves for the theft or at the very least for not having discovered it sooner.
  2. What follows is the extraordinary feeling of a breach of trust and violation.  This can lead to a feeling of overwhelming illness.  In some cases, one or more of the business owners have withdrawn from the business – such is the personal hurt and betrayal they feel.
  3. Devastation often kicks in with the owners losing focus on the business, unable to deal with the issues of today.
  4. Depending on the extent of the theft, depression can follow which requires some form of intervention to resolve.

The personal impact on the outlook and confidence of the business owner can be devastating. Unless they are able to accept what has happened and genuinely move on, they could find themselves wallowing in anger, inaction or even depression for long after the crime has been discovered.

The key, from our personal experience, is to accept what has happened, make a decision on how to deal with it and move on … never looking back.

Discovering an employee theft problem is an excellent first step.  The alternative is that it continues unabated.  Discovery stops the theft and that is a great first step. It is important to acknowledge the good news of the discovery regardless of the quantum of theft discovered.

Deciding an action plan is the ideal step two.  Deciding whether to report the crime or agree on an immediate financial settlement with the employee who committed the crime is the best next step.  Only the retail business owner can decide whether reporting the crime is worth it or not.  Sometimes, being paid a reasonable sum by the employee is better for the business and moving on than a protracted police investigation.

Talk with the team.  Listen.  Console.  This is a time for grieving about what happened.  Either gather as a group or one on one. Ensure that everyone has an opportunity to air their feelings.  Business partners especially should take time to do this and explore how they feel.  Do not let this process go on too long.  Ensure that everyone understands that this is the time of grieving and that when it ends, it ends so that the business and those involved can move on.

Focusing on the business is the fourth important step.  Once the employee theft is caught, the action plan re police versus reimbursement resolved, the next focus has to be the business.  Difficult as this is, it is important to move forward rather than to stand still and wonder what might have been or worry about the betrayal one feels.  Look at business practices and modify these so that theft is harder to perpetrate, implement processes which disrupt the business and make theft easier to detect.

There are excellent government and community resources which can help.  Engage and use these resources and benefit from the insights of others.  We are happy to help our customers find the right resources for their situation.

How a retail business comes out of discovering employee theft is up to the leaders of the business themselves.  They set the mood for the team.  It is important to reach a point of moving on and not looking back as soon as possible – for the sake of the business, its employees and its customers.

Jeweller Software Stops Theft in Jewellery Businesses

Jeweller Software from Tower Systems has helped another Jeweller discover and resolve an employee theft situation.  Costing the business tens of thousands of dollars until discovered, implementing the Tower Jeweller Software was the key to discovering this fraud against the business.

Thanks to extraordinary transaction and business activity tools, jewellers are able to dig deep into business data and assess employee behaviour and through this uncover potential fraud.

Tower Systems matches the tools in the software with excellent back office assistance in assessing the suspicious behaviour tracked by the software.  Our theft experts have been used in police offices and several courts to deal with retail employees caught stealing from their employers.

Jewellers are uniquely challenged in the area of employee theft because of the high value of inventory and the large sums of cash which can pass through a business.  The Tower Systems Jewellery Software provides jewellers and their managers with a suite of tools with which to protect against theft and quickly uncover such an event should it occur.

Theft can kill a retail business.  Caught early enough, it can be stopped before the damage to the business is too great. This is where the Tower Systems Jeweller Management Software shines, as we have found out over the last couple of weeks.

Theft management is just one of the areas where the Tower Systems Jeweller Management Software helps jewellers run more efficient, successful and profitable businesses.  Jewellers of all sizes use the software to track sales, track stock, reorder stock, manage customers, drive marketing campaigns, manage seasonal sales campaigns, track and record services such as repairs and valuations as well as report on overall business performance to a range of Key Performance Indicators.

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.

Employee theft expensive in retail

Employee theft can cost a retail business thousands of dollars a week. It is one of those business ownership or management experiences which is all too often ignored until it has happened to you.

Employee theft is real, take it from someone who has experienced it firsthand.  In my case, over fifteen years as a retail business owner, I have experienced three occasions of serious employee theft costing thousands.

The tragedy is that retailers usually have at their disposal tools which, if used properly, reduce the opportunity for theft and thereby protect the cash within the business.

Retail store managers and owners need to take the risk of theft seriously rather than thinking that it could never happen to them.  This means considering that everyone working in your retail business is a potential thief. Tough as this is, it is the only way to operate.

At every opportunity, make it clear that you have a zero tolerance approach to theft.  This will separate you from your employees, so be it.  It is essential that you put your desire to cut theft ahead of friendship with an employee.  Your business is at risk after all.

Everything in your business with value must be treated with respect.  Every day. And you, as the owner or manager, need to demonstrate leadership on the mission to keep theft at a minimum.

Cash.  Be obsessive about balancing every day. Ensure that your processes are water tight.  Eliminate opportunities in your processes for fraud.  Consider engaging a third party not connected with the business to audit your processes.  Review video footage regularly. Have yourself and your manager expertly trained in detecting employee theft at the cash register. Consider bringing in an investigator to assess the team of team members.  Best of all, use the facilities in your software.

Track stock.  Manipulating stock is one way employees steal.  By obsessively tracking stock on hand you are more likely to discover employee theft sooner. Use your Point of Sale software to track all stock in and out, do spot stock takes and reorder stock.  Making your POS software the heart of your stock management makes it harder for an employee to manipulate stock in stealing from you.

Data.  Accurate data is an excellent way to detect and resolve an employee theft problem.  Data in your Point of Sale software can provide the evidence which you denied would exist.  Be open to what the data proves.  Take time to learn about the theft tracking and management tools in your Point of Sale software. Be committed to using these. 

Take a zero tolerance approach here.  Employees stealing from you need to manipulate data in some way.  For example, if their sales per hour worked are far lower than others then they could simple not be using the computer system.  However, you would have detected off behaviour from your inventory system when reordering stock.

Good management processes followed with commitment and care will uncover theft quickly.  Businesses without these are at greater risk.  Is your retail business at risk?

Use your Point of Sale software, embrace and engage with every opportunity it presents for tracking and reducing employee theft in your retail business.

POS Software protects against employee theft in retail

We refuse to provide some information on the theft tracking and prevention facilities in our POS software to employees of businesses using our software.  We require written permission from the business owner requesting that we provide information to an employee before we provide information which could compromise the business.  This has been our policy for years.  It protects business owners, our customers, from possible fraud by employees.

Our vigilance around protecting retail businesses against theft has uncovered employees acting against customer businesses.  It has certainly helped prevent theft.

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.

Helping retailers combat theft

We are preparing a training video for retailers which will offer help on reducing the impact of employee theft.  The video is being designed to supplement advice we provide through other platforms on this topic: advice sheets, user meetings and speaking at conferences.

Theft, especially employee theft, can be expensive for retailers. Our software and our advice can help retailers rein in the high cost of employee theft.

Here are 8 ways retailers can cut employee theft without spending money.

  1. Background check. Ask prospective employees for permission to do a background check. Those with something to hide will quickly “find” work elsewhere.
  2. Zero tolerance. Lay out your policy on theft on a sign in the back room or other part of the business. Make it clear that you have a zero tolerance policy on theft and be clear on the consequences of being caught.
  3. Pay above award. One reason employees say they steal is that the business does not respect them. Paying above average, even a small amount, can show that do you respect them as better than average.
  4. Spot check. Do a spot check of cash during the day. Do a check of the counter for cash hidden or notes of an amount being recorded so an employee knows what is ‘theirs’ in the register.
  5. Be open about the business. Let your employees know how much money the business is making. This is usually less than they think you are making. Making them more informed may help them realise that the business is not a ‘fair’ target.
  6. Change.  Change the roster; empty the bins. The regular pattern of a retail store makes it easy for employees who are stealing to get away with it. Chase the process without announcement every so often and be prepared for the change to uncover theft.
  7. Vigilance. Check your computer system; check the counter; balance every day. If an employee thinks they can get away with even petty theft they may. It is vitally important to be vigilant about business process and cash management. Balance the cash register every night. Query discrepancies. Make the operators responsible.
  8. Don’t steal yourself. If employees see the business manager or owner taking cash for coffee or other small personal expenses they will see this as a right for them. If you need cash for these purposes do it out of employee sight.

All it takes is some additional vigilance from retail business owners and managers to reduce the cost of employee theft in a retail business.

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.

Free employee theft tracking service for retailers

Employee theft can kill a retail business if left undetected for too long.  In addition to excellent theft reduction and theft management facilities in our Point of Sale software, Tower Systems also offers a theft analysis service to its retailer customers.

Theft Check, as the free service is called, involved thorough analysis of critical business data, looking for patterns of behaviour, as indicated in the data, which could be evidence of employee theft.  Access to theft check is provide as part of the Tower Advantage TM customer support and service program.

All we need is access to a current data backup and we do the rest.   We look at the data from the perspective of successfully uncovering theft in more than one hundred retail businesses.  From a few hundred dollars to well over one hundred thousand dollars.  We are able to identify behaviour which is at best poor retail practice and at worst blatant theft from the business.

Our experience is that retailers are complacent about theft because of a belief in their people, denial that it could happen to them and fear that it is happening to them.  We have been guilty of this ourselves in our own retail businesses.

Our years of experience in working with retailers on employee theft, across a variety of retail channels, has allowed us to develop skills which are now helping others cut the cost of employee theft.

FOOTNOTE: This is not the first time we have written about this service and it will not be the last.  Each time we do write about it more retailers contact us. Our singular goal is to cut the cost of theft in retail businesses using our Point of Sale software.

Is employee theft hurting your retail business?

Employee theft accounts for around two thirds of all theft in a retail business based on data we have seen. Overall theft accounts for anything between three and five percent of retail sales – based on publicly available industry data.  Tower Systems helps retailers cut employee theft thanks to some excellent theft management tools in our software. 

We also help cut employee theft thanks to our FREE theft check service.  We review your business data and look for patters of behaviour which indicate that theft may be active.  The results of our research can provide you peace of mind, guide further investigation or be used by police in taking prosecution action.

Our pro bono work on tracking and cutting employee theft has saved some of our customers tens of thousands of dollars.  This is the Tower Advantage TM in action, putting money in the pocket of our customers without us putting our hands out asking for money to do this.

Retailers without a theft management strategy are at considerable risk in their businesses.  The theft tracking and reduction tools in our Tower Systems Point of Sale software can play a key role in any professional theft management program.

We have packaged our theft reduction and management advice into a one hour business management presentation and offer this to our customers and others who can bring together a group of retailers keen to work on reducing the cost of theft.

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.

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.

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.

How to Use Point of Sale Software to Catch People Stealing From Your Retail Business

We were recently asked to write an article about how retailers can cut theft using good Point of Sale software because of the considerable work we have done in this area helping customers, the police and insurance companies.  We though the atricle may also interest readers of this blog…

Cutting employee theft and customer theft in your retail business starts with commitment from the business owners and managers to this goal.

Too often, retailers accept that a certain level of theft will occur and think that it is not as bad in their store as it is in others.

Here are three steps for cutting the cost of theft in any retail business.

Step one: understand the problem.

The first step to dealing with theft, by employees or customers, is to understand the value of theft.

You can understand the value of most customer theft by undertaking either a full business stock take or spot stock takes. The stock your Point of Sale system thinks should be on hand compared to what is on hand reflects the value of stock theft, usually by customers. Good POS software offers stock take facilities designed to track theft.

Understanding the value of employee theft is more difficult since it can involve cash not even put through the computer system.

Step two: get serious about business processes.

Theft occurs usually because of weak business processes. Strengthen a few of your business processes and you dramatically cut the cost of theft.

Sales. Have every sale tracked by an employee code. This brings discipline to the sales process.

Refunds. Only allow a manager to do these.

Deleting sales. Ensure that only the most senior people in the retail business have permission through the POS software to do this.

Discounting. Setup rules in your POS software on the volume of discounting which is permitted.

Cash balancing. Establish rules for end of shift cash balancing. Make all sales employees accountable to a zero tolerance target.

Use security reporting tools. Good POS software will take you behind the scenes in the business and report on concerning behaviour such as selling items below cost, cancelling sales, deleting sales or adjusting customer account balances. These are all indicators of employee fraud.

Step three: act on evidence.

Thanks to reporting from your Point of sale software you ought to gain a good understanding of the scope of theft in your retail business. Embrace this information for the benefit of the business and all who rely on it, make decisions.

If stock is being stolen off the shop floor, understand which stock is affected and either increase security or move the stock to a better location. The more likely someone stealing feels they could be caught the lower the chance they will actually steal from the business.

If employees are taking even small amounts of cash from the business, act immediately within the law to protect the business. This removes the problem from the business and it sends a message to others in the business that you will act on evidence of theft.

Use your Point of Sale software to its fullest to help cut the cost of theft in your business. Imagine how much better off the business would be with an additional three percentage points of net profit. That is your motivator – a healthier profit for the business and therefore a more sustainable business.

Cutting employee and customer theft can be achieved. Us your Point of Sale system to understand the problem and then help manage it.

Employees who consider stealing from a retail business need to weigh up the risk

Retail employees considering stealing from their employer weigh up the prospects of getting caught. If they see the business using theft management tools and other facilities in their Point of Sale software to track and cut theft then they are less likely to take the risk.

Unfortunately, for many retailers, the use of theft management tools in our retail management software only seriously starts once the business has experienced major theft.

This is why offer regular training in theft management, cover it in our newsletters and speak about it at our user meetings around the country. It is frustrating to know that retailers have access to tools which could add between 2% and 5% to their bottom line and that they will not use these tools until they suffer a considerable financial loss.

By professional and committed use of our theft management tools, retailers will cut theft – without a doubt. The theft reduction benefits alone will generate sufficient benefit in the first year of installing our system to entirely pay for it.

To protect our customers, however, we don’t talk too publicly about the specifics of theft management. Training in the tools is undertaken with confidentiality – so that the business owner has the upper hand.

Employee theft is a risk in every retail business. By treating it seriously and using the facilities like those in our Point of Sale software, retailers can expect to cut the cost of theft and achieve a healthier bottom line for the business.

If theft is discovered, we also have tools which help gather evidence for the police – we’ve done this plenty of times and will gladly help any of our customers in this situation. However, being forewarned and forearmed could avoid the need to react after the event.

How to cut employee theft in your retail business

Over the years we have developed considerable expertise in helping retailers cut employee theft.  We package and offer theft management advice in our online training, advice sheets and other forums.  Here are ten recommendations for cutting employee theft in just about any retail business:

  • Prepare a written theft management policy and post this in a public area of the back room of the business for all employees to see.
  • Use Point of Sale software which offers strong theft management tools.
  • Only employ people prepared to undergo a police check.
  • Install a security camera system connected with your Point of Sale software.
  • Review the security footage and other business data to look for theft occurrences.
  • Enforce zero tolerance for abuse of systems. For example, ensure that every item sold at the sales counter is scanned. Good software will show if this is being done.
  • Implement zero tolerance for an end of shift discrepancy when balancing the takings of the business. A $5.00 outage should be the maximum allowed.
  • Remove the ability to delete sales from the computer system.
  • Remove the opportunity to cancel sales – this is a common technique used by employees stealing as it can be used to trick customers that the sale has gone through.
  • Change responsibilities – sometimes changing who handles money can uncover fraudulent behaviour.
  • Change your timing. Habits are what allow people to think they can get away with theft.

A recent survey found that 40% of business owners who thought themselves to be theft free, actually had theft occur in their business within a 12 month period prior to survey. Of theft that is recognised, only 2.5% of it is witnessed, the rest only established by audit.Smart computer technology can witness theft better than humans. It can use pattern matching techniques to uncover hitherto undiscovered theft behaviour by employees and deliver evidence which authorities can use to achieve successful prosecution.

Employee theft can be cut in any retail business. All it takes is employer and management commitment and a dedication to maintaining strong business rules.

Using Point of Sale software to cut employee theft

Following these simple steps will help retailers reduce the opportunity for and incidence of employee theft.

  1. Track sales by employees. Use the Point of Sale software to require employee codes to be entered or employee cards to be scanned for every sale.
  2. Encourage eftpos transactions. The less cash you handle the lower the opportunity for fraud.
  3. Track odd behaviour. Cancelled sales, opening the cash drawer, deleting sales – these are all things you can stop or better control using your Point of Sale software. The tighter the rules the less wriggle room available for people to abuse the business.
  4. Require change given to be entered. This enhances structure at the sales counter and this shows the business respects operational rules.
  5. Set rules on discounts. Use the software to manage business rules on who can process discounts.
  6. Balance the register.  Set a limit of what is an acceptable under or over amount for the end of shift processing.  Require employees to be accountable.  The tougher you manage this the more responsibility people take on to ensure that there are no mistakes.

Creating and adhering to structure around cash handling processes is crucial.  Employees who want / need to steal will have less opportunity if you take the steps outlined above.  Good Point of Sale software like that from Tower Systems is your best friend in helping you cut the cost of employee theft.

How to cut employee theft in a retail businesss

We are often asked for advice on how to cut employee theft in retail – because of the theft management in our Point of Sale software and the work we have done with police and other investigators in several states on this issue.

To help retailers cut the cost of employee theft we created some guidelines which we have found useful. These are shared at various training forums and workshops in which we participate. We felt they would be useful to the broader audience here.

Employees can steal from retail businesses in a variety of ways. Often, such theft goes undetected because of poor or unmonitored business processes.
The best way to cut employee theft or fraud is to commit to a consistent approach to theft management:

  • Ask prospective employees if they object to a police check. Those with something to hide will let you know they have found a job elsewhere.
  • Implement zero tolerance for abuse of systems. For example, ensure that every item sold is scanned.
  • Implement zero tolerance for an end of shift discrepancy of, say, $5.00 or more. Once employees know you will be fierce about this sales will be more accurate.
  • Reduce manual eftpos transactions – connect your eftpos terminal to your point of sale.
  • Change responsibilities – sometimes changing who handles money can uncover fraudulent behavior.
  • Change your timing. Habits are what allow people to think they can get away with theft.
  • Modify your counter policies:No refunds;  No credits without management approval;  No employee bags at the counter;  No jackets or cardigans with pockets;  No calculators with memories – I have seen these used to record how much cash in the register is theirs.
  • Track every sale by employees – using a card with an employee barcode and making it harder for an employee to use the system as someone else.
  • Track all cash movements from the sale through to your bank account. Many retailers do not do this and open themselves to blatant and regular theft.
  • Employees do it because they know they can get away with it.

Employees do it because they know they can get away with it

Cutting employee theft can be achieved with vigilance. A small time investment in developing and following processes will find you with more money in your bank account.

C-Store group chooses Tower

A convenience store group with 150 locations has just selected Tower Systems as an IT supplier for its retail outlets.

Tower Systems Point of Sale software will go into more convenience store locations and further strengthen our position in this marketplace as a result of this new deal.

The synergy between convenience store and our newsagency marketplace is considerable and each will benefit from our work with the other.

We are grateful for the opportunity to help another group strengthen the independent businesses which make up their network.

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.

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.