POS software security facilities enhanced

Last month, we quietly released enhanced security facilities in our point of sale software.  The new facilities focus on reducing employee and customer fraud against businesses using the enhanced software.

Months in development, the enhaanced security facilities are truly state of the art and unique to our software in our marketplaces.  Our work has been done in association with experts in retail security.

We know that fraud / theft in retail costs between 3% and 5% of turnover.   Risk of discovery is key to reducing the cost to a business.  Our enhanced facilities provide the business owner with better facilities with which to discover a problem.

Cutting theft in your retail business

Security is big business in retail. CCTV systems, tag based security gates and other measures are used to try and cut theft in retail. Our retail management software has excellent security facilities which, without any capital expense, can significantly cut the cost of theft in any retail business.

We regularly host online security briefings for business owners to explain how to use the security facilities to cut employee and customer theft in a retail business. In fact, we have another of these briefings this week, on May 12. Access is free – book at our website: support / user meetings.

By engaging with the security facilities in our software, our users can demonstrate to employees and customers that the business takes a professional approach to risk management. This alone will reduce the impact of theft on the business.

Enhanced security bridge helps cut theft in retail

We are about to start live testing of a significantly enhanced security bridge.  This bridge between our software and smart image recording technology is exclusive in our software – it enables our retailers to search image footage by transaction type, content and staff member.  This reduces the time spend reviewing footage in search on any event of concern.

We first released our secruity bridge six years ago and it has undergone significant change since.  The latest changes take the marriage of security management facilities and point of sale facilities to a new level.  We are grateful to technology developers overseas who have provided deep access to their image capturing systemto enable our new bridge to be built.

Once the in-field tests are completed we will release the bridge for general use.

Streamlining retail sales with Tyro Integrated EFTPOS

Tyro is saving our retail users, including our own retail businesses, time and money with a better credit, debit, gift and loyalty solution.

Integrated EFTPOS means the point of sale device communicates directly with the EFTPOS terminal, reducing internal fraud and keystroke errors.

Tyro’s unique internet-based platform will improve your workflow and loweryour costs with:

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

yro gives retailers a choice away from the big banks and we like the competition this drives.  You don’t have to change your existing banking relationship to join Tyro.

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.

For more information or a free savings analysis, call Tyro on 02-8907 1751 or email sales@tyro.com.

Security of credit card information

We yesterday completed a review of the handling and storage of customer credit card details processed through our point of sale software given the current tightening of security standards being driven by Australian banks.  Our software meets these tight standards. 

Our software, porcesses and standards have been passed by Australian banks as well as other international parties whose standards we must meet given some of the transactions we process. 

That we meet today’s standards including the PCI DSS standard offers peace of mind to current Tower Systems customers and prospective customers.

Managing expensive discounts

Years ago we released a suite of SMS facilities in our software whereby store owners and managers are sent text messages based on rules they establish using the software.  The text messages are sent without employee knowledge or involvement.

Once of our users earlier this week cracked a weekend friends discount racket being run by a new casual employee.  Our software alerted them to unusual discount practices.  They checked the details in the software from their location and put together the evidence they needed.

In developing these tools we set out to provide the business owners with peace of mind.  While it is frustrating to find that you have been ripped off, catching it early means you can stop the theft being repeated.

These SMS faciities are a standard part of our software – essential for all retailers.

Seven ways to cut employee theft in retail

We help users of our software reduce theft. We do this through the security bridge between our software and sophisticated camera systems as well as through straightforward advice. Here are seven ways you can cut theft by employees in retail.

  1. Background check. Once you have found someone you want to hire, get their permission for a paid police check. This will send some candidates running.
  2. Have tight processes. The most common theft we see is because of lack of control over cash. This is an invitation. Track every cent from the moment it leaves your customer’s hands to when it hits your bank account. This may seem obvious. The times cash is not tracked are considerable.
  3. Change the roster. By changing routine unexpectedly you can find entrenched behaviour through which people take money and sock from the business. Breaking people working with friends is crucial.
  4. Pay above award. This tells your staff they are above average and respected.
  5. Respect employees. Let them buy things for themselves for a good discount, cost even.
  6. Be open about the business. Involve your staff in paying the bills. If they understand that all of the cash you receive is not yours they respect the business more and may feel less tempted.
  7. Be personal. The more connected your employees in retail feel to you as the owner, the more they know you, understand you and respect you the less tempted they will feel since they know it would hurt you.

The keys with employee theft are to be involved in the business, have tight processes and have a zero tolerance policy.

We know from our own retailer interaction that theft is on the increase in retail at the moment. We offer a free Theft Check service to our customers to help track theft which may have been tracked through our software. We have secret facilities we can use to uncover this.

Cutting theft in retail

track_sale.JPGThe risk of getting caught is key to cutting theft in retail. Our integrated security / point of sale solution provides greater certainty of capture. As the photo shows, we record items being sold and list them over the vision of the sale. We have offered this link for many years. Our own experience is that the link pays for itself.

Beyond cutting theft, our link also eliminates disputes about amount tendered, when an item was purchased and other queries at the counter. These facilities boost confidence of team members when dealing with difficult customers.

In the back of the shop one can monitor the 8, 16 and even more cameras on the management screen. This is also where we can search the vision based on stock items and other criteria – for when we need to check when an was last sold.

With theft in retail costing between 3% and 5% of sales and a professional security system costing around .5% of gross sales, the financial benefits the point of sale / security system integrated package are obvious.

POS Solutions, plagarism and Tower Systems

As far as I know, we are the only one to offer a fully integrated computer and security camera surveillance in retail anywhere.

This is Bernard Zimmermann writing at his POS Solutions blog tonight. Bernard knows that what he has written is not true. I know he knows we delivered Australia‘s first point of sale security camera integration more than four years ago. He and I discussed this some time back. Bernard has read my posts here about it. He has seen it demonstrated at newsagency trade shows on each of the last three years. So, yes, Bernard knew he was lying when he published his post today.

Bernard has published his post today about an integrated security solution to try and win a sale. POS Solutions has been asked about this by a newsagent who likes what we do. o Bernard has done what POS Solutions has done for years, he has played the game of smoke and mirrors – being loose with the truth to trick trusting folk into believing that what his company offers is cutting edge.

If it were cutting edge it would be POS Solutions engaged in the five exclusive newsagent industry supplier trials and not Tower Systems is the case. If POS Solutions was the innovator he would not still be struggling to get his DOS software compliant when the leaders in this channel switched to Windows technology eight years ago. If his company was the leader he tries to paint his company as being in his blog posts, POS Solutions would not have received the damning result in the ANF newsagent computer system poll conducted late last year.

I could go on. POS Solutions does not innovate. It copies which, in itself would not be bad if the copies were good. They are not. POS Solutions offers newsagents poor software backed by poor support. That’s what I think and it’s what the many newsagents think who switch to Tower Systems.

Trawl back through Bernard’s blog posts and then check back here and you will soon see on the public record how blatant Bernard is at his copying.

Sometimes it makes me laugh, other times it makes me angry.

Bernard and the POS Solutions use this blog and my Newsagency Blog as their business guide book. I should charge them a royalty on our ideas.

I shouldn’t worry, we have three times more newsagents using our software than they do. We’re growing faster and we have more exclusive supplier projects on the go. But I do worry because even one newsagent going with software which is but a shadow of ours is a newsagent letting their business down.

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Theft management offer

It is difficult to engage retailers in a discussion about theft. Most prefer to think it is not happening in their business. Our theft management marketing is multi layered and ranges from a public service announcement approach to a focus on strength. here is the cover of our latest postcard:

theft-management-tower-blog.jpg

The security bridge, the link between our software and the CCTV technology is exclusive to our software. It is the smart way to bring vision and data together in a form which reduces the time managers and owners spend on managing theft in a retail business.

Eyes in the back of the head

Deep within our software, hidden behind thick walls we have evidence which becomes essential in tracking employee fraud. We call it the audit log. One smart employee in a business using our software found out about this and tried tampering with it, to conceal his fraud against the business. He didn’t know we keep a mirror image of the log stored elsewhere and that we track tampering of the audit log. This provided the evidence necessary to make him accountable for his crime.

While we wish we did not have to do such things, these are important tools in retail – to protect co-workers and provide the business owner the mechanism necessary to protect their business.

Smarter CCTV interface to cut theft

In addition to the theft management enhancements I blogged about earlier this week, we are close to finalising an enhanced link with the security camera (CCTV) software our point of Sale software exclusively links with.

This interface dramatically cuts the time it takes to uncover customer and employee fraud since you can navigate the footage by event, in-store and remotely if you’re not running the business locally.

We were the first software company in each of our markets to provide such a smart and direct CCTV link. The power for the retailer is obvious from the first incident checked. From tracking change given to when an item was last bought to who handled the end of shift balancing, this link makes it easy for the retailer to see who did what and when.

Key to the link is that it can be accessed from anywhere.

we are proud to bring bring business theft management tools to small business retailers. Much of what we have developed here has grown out of our own experience operating six retail businesses.

Laziness makes retail theft easy

One of our customers who has experienced employee fraud told us the final cost to the business was in excess of $120,000 over fourteen months.  The only reason this fraud was undetected for so long was because the business owner had lax business practices in place which facilitated the fraud.  That’s what the owner told me after looking at what happened.  He made it too easy.  If this business followed these simple steps the fraud could have been avoided:

  • Establish rules for discounts, no sales, refunds and cash handling.  Enforce them.
  • Track every sale by employee.
  • Force the entry of amount tendered to complete every sale.
  • No refunds to customers without getting customer name, address and driver’s licence number.
  • Balance at the end of the shift to within $5.00 – chase the problem down if you are up or down by more.
  • Change passwords every two weeks, tell no one the master password.
  • Change who works with whom.
  • Do police checks on prospective employees.

Theft in retail can be managed.  All it takes is tough rules and adherence at all levels in the business to these rules.

Strong management of theft in retail

Thanks to feedback from several of our customers who have experience theft in their businesses we are strengthening our retail theft management tools.

From managing a robbery through to managing employee fraud we are enhancing our retail software offering.

Each case of theft is different and it is through talking with people who have experienced this that we are able to find ways to improve how we help our customers manage this if it happens to them.

I am not about to blog details here of the changes since some are so advanced that we want to enjoy the benefits of being first to market.  Also, one change involves interaction outside the retail business and a joint announcement will be more appropriate.

Our current theft tools are robust and proven – we have some convictions in the bag – the next generation of enhancements will take is to a new place and better equip our retailers to hand le situations in ways designed to minimize their losses and to bring the perpetrators to account.

Cutting theft in retail

Employee and customer theft in retail costs hundreds of millions of dollars a year. As this report at ninemsn shows, everyone pays. Here are the top five tips which, if followed, will reduce the impact of theft on your retail business:

Track all sales by employee – use a code or a staff card.

Scan everything you sell – train team members on how to scan so ‘free’ items fall out.

Implement a returns policy – make sure you sold any item a customer returns to the store. This is very easy in good software.

Balance to within $5 – make team members accountable for sloppy system use.

Spot stock take – understand the shoplifting problem in your store. This will drive your action.

For a more comprehensive list of actions around employee theft, check out our free advice sheet.

Proving employee theft

A picture tells a thousand words as they say. It is true in court where you are trying to prove a case of employee theft. Take a look at the image below. Even though we have staged this, it shows the video footage and data from our point of sale software proving what was happening at the time – a canceled sale. This is hard evidence, proof of a crime and it is available directly from within our point of sale software using our exclusive theft bridge technology.

theft.JPG

Users of our technology can go into their system, call up a list of canceled sales (ot other suspicious activity) and in an instant have the data and vision marriage on the screen. It’s brilliant. More than that, in most businesses it pays for itself in no time since customer and other disputes are settled quickly and accurately.

Our link was a first and now we are enhancing it, new features will keep us in our own league in the mission to cut the cost of theft in small business.

Updated theft management advice

After further consultation with our customers and police involved in theft cases, we have reviewed and enhanced the theft management advice provided to our users in four comprehensive advice sheets:

· G7 Security & Passwords (Please call Tower Systems to access this Advice Sheet)

· G13 Audit Log (Please call Tower Systems to access this Advice Sheet)

· G14 Staff Security Cards (last modified Aug 27 2007)

· G15 SMS (last modified Aug 27 2007)

Given the sensitivity of the information provided, the first two advice sheets are only available direct from the Help Desk. The other two advice sheets are live at our website.

It has been our experience that small businesses where fraud and theft are a problem, security is not taken as seriously as it could have been.

Expensive day in court

One of our senior team members has been called by the police to give expert evidence in a court case against a former employee of a client. While we are happy to help our clients manage the theft risk, this comes at a significant cost. Already on this matter we have racked up close to 100 man-hours of time. This has been done over the course of two years and at no cost to our customers.

The loss of another three days to support the court case (including travel), again at no cost, is frustrating. I’d prefer the police to offer compensation for time – such as that offered to jurors. Actually, I would prefer to not be required to be involved.

Small businesses have more control over employee theft than they think. By being lazy with processes, lenient on end of shift balancing and too trusting they invite theft and place a burden on others, including the police, to fix things. This is not true in every situation but I do see it often.

Employee theft is retail could be cut dramatically if there were police checks on potential employees; tighter cash controls; tighter checks and balances; and, regular audits. Good software facilitates this. Our does – we provide an excellent range of theft management tools including camera integration with point of sale.

I’d encourage all small business owners, regardless of the technology they have, to ensure they understand the theft management tools at their disposal and how they can be used. This is business after all.

Security camera season in retail

All of a sudden our POS integrated security camera solution has taken off. While we have some good sites, it’s not a product which has been a best seller. It’s like health insurance, you’re more likely to take it after a health scare or when you hear of someone having a health scare.

Thanks to some good recent word of mouth from success stories, we have plenty of enquiries from existing customers wanting to integrate their Tower Systems POS software with our video recording and searching solution. These, of course, will build even stronger word of mouth.

We’re the only software company in each of our markets with such a solution that we know of and this is also binging new POS customers to us.

What’s smart about our offering is that we bridge our POS software and the video technology to enable fast searching of incidents of interest – discounts, returns, end of shift, cancelled sales, deleted items and the like. Owners can focus on these events of interest rather than watching surveillance cameras for too long.

Defending employtee theft II

Two days after my earlier post on employee theft this week I received a call from someone claiming to be a lawyer representing someone charged with theft from a store using our point of sale software. He was aggressive, rude, personal and intimidating. I thought he was interested in our software but became suspicious when his questions were not usual for a sales enquiry. When I queried why he really called he unleashed a spray of venom in the form of claims about me and some in my company being used as expert witnesses in cases involving charges of employee theft in businesses using our point of sale software.

This bloke has clearly been hired to break a prosecution case by intimidating people on the witness roster. He didn’t call for any other reason than to upset me. This is what my earlier post was about. I have seen it before. Rich defendants use clever lawyers who use aggressive tactics like the call to me yesterday to intimidate witnesses and make a case go away.

Our expert evidence does not make or break a case. It explains how the software can be used to commit fraud in certain circumstances and what point of sale practices, in our view and based on our experience, are usual and what are unusual.

This punk of a ‘lawyer’ told me he’d love to get me on the stand to tear me to shreds as an expert and he’d do it because he won’t let me ruin lives. Then he hung up. I have no idea what case he is involved with.

Rather than focus on defending the case itself, they plan, apparently, to play the man. Another lawyer friend tells me this is how the legal system works. Deep wallets buy good theatre and this is what wins.

The best solution for our small business clients is for them to use the excellent tools in our software to protect their business from employee fraud. These tools and our accompanying business management advice on employee theft are proven to cut theft.

Defending employee theft

I don’t know how some lawyers sleep at night. While I accept that everyone has a right to a robust defence, it is unfair that a better resourced defence is able to get someone off a theft charge merely by spending more than the prosecution.

I have seen this too often in cases involving employee theft in small businesses. We gather the evidence of fraud from the computer system, the owner marries this up with the roster, they or the police bring in a camera to catch a theft and charges are laid. That all seems straightforward. Unless the alleged perpetrator or their parents are rich and they get a smart defence lawyer.

A smart defence lawyer locks the prosecutor and the experts on the side of the small business owner in a battle about expert evidence. The prosecutors decide it’s all too hard and withdraw the charges.

These defence lawyers plan the man. That is, they chase after every witness for the prosecution, questioning their credentials and belittling their evidence. This happens long before the first day of the trial, wearing everyone down, tying people up in games and taking them away from their businesses.

I’ve seem small business owners glad to walk away from a court cases against employees who stole from them just so they can get their life back. The emotional pain of the months and years after theft and before the trial take a huge toll.

Yeah, I don’t know how these defence lawyers sleep at night.

How to cut employee theft in retail (again)

Make it difficult. That’s the absolute key. Make it difficult to steal from you. Have robust processes with double checks and balances. Use cameras. Let employees know that everything is tracked. Setup traps. And, trust no one.

It’s on my mind today because I have just got off the phone with another client who has been hit for close to $20,000. In their case they were lax with cash. Their computer system was out up to $150 each night and they put it down to technology -n because the employee involved said so. They also happened to be the most technically literate person in the business. The owner was scared of technology, refused to fully learn and relied on this person to run the system – as steal from them.

Every call like his amazes me. It’ easy for someone to steal from you if they have control of the cash in your business. The person controlling the point of sale system and its data controls your cash.

Security system helps in sexual harassment claim

We received a call from a client this week with news that the new security system we installed has helped resolve a sexual harassment claim. It provided evidence that the claim had no basis in fact leading to the compliant being withdrawn. It’s a good outcome and a use of the camera technology we have not anticipated when we developed our point of sale integrated solution.

Software as divorce cause

How do you feel when you discover that the person stealing from the business is the husband of the owner who called you about the theft problem? This is what happened a year and a half ago. The money was being used to fund a second ‘home’ and our evidence unlocked far more than expected when we were called in to help with a theft problem.

Cutting employee theft

In our work with small business on customer and employee theft situations we have developed some cross industry advice which we’re told helps cut the cost of theft. Here are five tips for cutting employee theft in retail:

1. Background check every new hire. Get their permission and use an agency to check with the police and other sources. Make sure you know the person you’re hiring! Often just asking their permission to submit to a background check will turn away those you don’t want.

2. Pay above award wages. The quality of your employees is up to you. If you’re doing your job you have good employees. Value them. Pay above award – by up to 10%. This will reduce theft.

3. Engage and show respect. Ask for their honest comments about the business. The more they feel, genuinely feel, valued, the less likely they are to steal from you.

4. No employee bags at the counter.

5. Offer fair discounts to employees. Let employees buy products for a fair discount and demonstrate respect for their involvement.

Our pitch is that the best way to cut employee theft is to instll our integrated point of sale / security system. This provides the evidence essential to putting money back in your pocket.