Employee theft is a scourge in small business retail since it often, unfortunately, goes undetected for too long.
Tower Systems make employee theft detection easy in its POS software. However, like any tool, a retailer has to choose to use it. Too often, we see retailers ignore the easy access theft detection tools they have in our software, denying themselves the opportunity to catch theft earlier and thereby reduce the costs for the business.
Outside of the awesome theft m mitigation tools in our POS software, we help retailers with practical advice they can implement to further reduce opportunity for employee theft. We have developed these tools based on years of service in this area including working with police, prosecutors and others in catching and prosecuting cases of employee theft.
Here is some of the small business retail theft mitigation advice from our POS software retail experienced team:
- Track your stock.Receive all stock into your business through your computer system so you know exactly what sock you have.
- 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.
- Track every sale by employees.Give your employees a card with a unique barcode or have them enter a code – to track every sale they make back to them. Change the code every six months or so.
- Do your end of shift through your softwareand have a zero-tolerance policy on being over or under. Reconcile banking to your computer software end of shift. One business where this was not done was being skimmed regularly for $200 a day.
- 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.
- Change your roster.Sometimes people work together to steal. One retailer found a family friend senior and their teenage daughter stealing consistently.
- 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.
- Check Gross Profit by department.If GP is falling outside what you expect, research it further.
- 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.
- Keep the counter clean.An organised counter reduces the opportunity for theft. It makes detection easier.
- Have a no employee bags at the counter policy.This makes it harder for them to hide your cash.
- 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.
- Beware of calculators with memories at the counter.One retail business 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.
- Do not let employees sell to themselves.If they want to purchase something make them purchase it from the other side of the counter.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 small business retailers to reduce and manage employee theft.
Theft, employee and customer, costs a typical small / independent retail between 3% and 5% of product sales revenue. Management attention can cut this dramatically. It does not take much time. No, it is more about having professional processes in place that everyone in the business follows.
In years working with small and independent retail businesses, the team at Tower Systems has learnt plenty including the indicators of in which retail businesses theft is more likely to occur.
we take a best practice approach to theft mitigation in our smart POS software. There are extensive tools that benefit retailer, provide peace of mind and help act against the scourge off theft be it employee or customer initiated and executed.
Our experience is that theft is more likely to occur in businesses where stock is not managed properly.
By not managed properly we mean where:
- All items sold are not tracked at the point of sale.
- Where new stock arriving in the business is not properly arrived through the software.
- Where spot stock-takes are not undertaken regularly to maintain an accurate stock on hand account.
- Where stock given away or thrown away is not written off.
- Where stock returned to a supplier is not scanned out.
Our advice on reducing the cost of employee theft and customer theft is simple – follow our advice, manage your stock and without a doubt the cost of theft in your retail business will be lower than it would have been.
If you think the cost of managing stock is too great, think about the cost of $25,000, $50,000 or even $250,000 in theft. Yes, we see this all too often in retail businesses – where stock is not managed.
Managing your stock = less theft and less theft = increases product and increased profit = you get more when you sell your business.
A week ago we shared with our customers an updated THEFT POLICY, and suggested they print this and seek employee engagement.
The reaction has been terrific with plenty downloading and pricing the policy. We have had calls, too, from retailers seeking our suggestions on other actions they can take. Some have called with their stories of theft in their businesses.
Our work in the area of retail employee theft is comprehensive and on-going.
We welcome opportunities to work with our thousands of small business retailer customers to help them mitigate the theft situation in their businesses.
Here is the latest version of our THEFT POLICY that we shared a week ago:
- Theft, any theft, is a crime against this business, its owners, employees and others who rely on us for their income.
- 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.
- We have a zero tolerance policy on theft. All claims will be reported to law enforcement authorities for their investigation.
- 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.
- New employees may be asked to provide permission for a police check prior to commencement of employment. Undertaking the police check will be at our discretion.
- Cash is never to be left unattended outside the cash drawer or a safe within the business.
- 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.
- Employees caught stealing with irrefutable evidence face immediate dismissal to the extent permitted by local labour laws.
- Employees are not permitted to remove inventory, including unsold, topped, magazines, unsold cards or damaged stock from the store without permission.
- Employees are not permitted to provide a refund to a customer without appropriate management permission.
- Employees are not permitted to complete sales to themselves, family members or friends.
- Every dollar stolen from the business by customers and or employees can cost us up to four dollars to recover. This is why vigilance on theft is mission critical for our retail store.
PLEASE SIGN AND DATE YOUR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:
The annual stock take in retail businesses has been a thing of the past for years. While plenty of shops run stock take sales, there is no need for the annual count that the sale is supposed to make easier.
The ATO agrees that a business does not have to do a stock take as long as it consistently follows structured business processes that track all incoming and outgoing stock and that there are scheduled checks to ensure the accuracy of stock on hand data.
There was a time when small business retailers would have to bring in external stock takes and pay hefty fees for counting, sometimes needing to be closed while this was done.
Today, however, with good POS software and good business practices the business can provide a stock listing that meets ATO reporting requirements and saves the business that end of financial year time soak.
Tower Systems can help small business retailers with the software and the business processes that support the software in its accurate and timely use.
Following the businesses processes we train small business retailers on also helps reduce dead stock and cut other costs businesses find when stock is not managed professionally.
Tracking goods as they come in and are returned or sold is an effective part of a stock take. As is an ad-hoc stock take of part of the business. These and other tools in ur software make it easy for a retail business to be able to produce an accurate stock on hand list in a format required by the ATO.
For our customers who li certainty of a stock take we have excellent facilities in the core of the software for achieving this. We make it easy and certain. We do it in a way that any retail employee can participate in undertaking a stock take. Plus we do it so that the business can trade while the stock take is under way.
No matter how you approach ensuring stock on hand data is accurate, Tower Systems is able to help any small business retailer … save time, save money and feed better business decisions.
Here are seven steps we suggest to cut the cost of shopper theft in your retail business. While there are other steps you could take, these seven are most valuable from our years of working with retailers.
- Look at people as they enter. Make sure they see you see them. Eye contact is key. Ideally, say hello to them. The more they think you have seen them the better.
- Have a screen near the entrance / exit so people can see that you filming them with your security cameras. The more people think they will be caught they less likely they are to steal.
- Work on the shop floor. This puts you or your employees among shoppers and heightens the chance of detection of theft.
- Walk the floor. Every so often, do a circuit. Be present. Talk to people.
- During peak shopping periods, station someone outside the business looking. Ensure they are trained on appropriate action should they see misbehavior.
- Bring in a security guard on a casual basis during your most busy periods.
- Have a no receipt no exchange or refund policy.
- Use your POS software. Spot stock take. Understand the cost off theft. In our experience the evidence is that items being stolen are bot those you think are being stolen. Data is key here. hence our advice to use your POS software.
- Act on the evidence.
- Ensure all who work in the business are in on this project.
The more likely people are to be caught the less likely you are to experience shopper theft.
Tower Systems has many years of experience in helping independent small business retailers mitigate em ploy theft and shopper theft. We leverage this experience for our customers through excellent POS software, free training, group training workshops, data analysis and expert witness support for authorities in specific cases.
Our advice to retailers is that you can cut the cost of theft if you manage your business to achieve this goal. Sadly, too many small business retailers do not do this because they do not see theft until it is too late. We say be on the front foot, manage to cut theft even when you cannot see it.
Next week, we run another of our popular Howe to cut theft in your retail business workshops. Run many times over many years, these free live workshops help engaged retailers to protect against theft, especially employee theft. Retailers using our POS software who encounter employee theft, especially expensive employee theft, have not undertaken this free and easily accessed training.
Our commitment to our small business retail customers is that we provide regular access to free live training workshops. This session is another of these free weekly opportunities.
Okay so we have shared advice on cutting employee theft before, many times in fact. The things is – employee theft continues in small business retail, too often. It can be reduced in any retail business if you follow this simple advice:
- Use stock control. 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. Popular item stock discrepancies are an indicator of theft.
- 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.
- 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.
- Do spot cash balancing. Unexpected checks can uncover surprises.
- Change your roster. Sometimes people work together to steal. One retailer found a family friend senior and their teenage daughter stealing consistently.
- Check your Audit Log. Look at cancelled sales, deleted sales and items deleted from a sale.
- Check GP by department. If GP is falling outside what you expect, research it further.
- 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.
- Keep the counter clean. A better organised counter reduces the opportunity for theft as it makes detection easier.
- Have a no employee bags at the counter policy. This makes it harder for them to hide your cash.
- 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.
- Beware of calculators with memories at the counter.
- Do not let employees sell to themselves. If they want to purchase something make them purchase it from the other side of the counter.
- 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.
- Advise all job applicants that you will require their permission for a police check.
- 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.
We are proud to have launched this new video on the weekend. It is having the desired effect of educating retail business owners.
Small business POS software company Tower Systems is running training tomorrow for small business retailers on how to cut theft in a retail business. This specialist delivered training will cover strategies and tactics for cutting employee theft and shopper theft in any type of small retail business.
‘Drawing on considerable experience working with retailers and the police, this free training from Tower Systems will help retailers mitigate the cost of theft in their businesses.
Tower Systems has been helping more retailers using its POS software POS software to deal with employee theft situations. We have a structured process for independently checking evidence without being influenced by stories. The process has been praised by police and prosecutors. It has been on show in court rooms where we have provided expert witness evidence.
Employees in retail businesses using our software are on notice. We have tools you will never find which can uncover behavior which indicates without a doubt that theft is occurring. This evidence has stood up scrutiny and resulted in successful action.
Our advice to retailers is to use the facilities in our software for theft reduction. If you have a concern, ask us for a free Theft Check service.
We’re here to help. That’s our motto. When it comes to employee theft, we’re in your corner and there to help you deal with it and get through the emotional and operational challenges of discovering a theft situation.
Our theft related work is undertaken at senior levels within the business. It is highly confidential. Our most cases are never discussed until completely closed and even then only ever without identifying details.
Here’s another video from us for our POS software customers on how to cut theft in retail.
Retailers using the Tower Systems POS software are embracing our latest online training opportunities including the How to cut theft in your retail business live and interactive workshop coming up on August 7. This session will fill up. We have more coming on the schedule.
Tower Systems demonstrates its commitment to consistent access to free post-installation training with workshops like this one, workshops that are valuable to retailers using our software.
Theft – employee theft and customer theft – continues to have a high cost for small and independent retailers. Tower Systems actively helps retailers to recent the impact of theft through personal training like this latest workshop. Being for owners only, we have a safe place where we can take people deep into the theft mitigation facilities in our software.
Employee theft can hit a retail business hard, especially if the business does not have a retail business theft policy in place. For many years we have advocated to our retail business customers about theft and how to manage the risk for the benefit of the business and those who depend on it. yet, unfortunately, too often retailers ignore what they must do until they have discovered theft.
We are on a mission this week to encourage and guide our almost 3,000 small business customers to manage their businesses for theft, especially employee theft.
Our POS software has excellent tools and facilities through which the retail business owners can reduce the cost of theft and more easily discover possible theft situations. We back this with advice on best practice theft management in retail. Our advice draws on our own experiences in retail as well as our considerable experience helping others through work with the police and prosecution in court cases.
We understand the role evidence plays and have tuned our software over the years to provide evidence necessary to discovering and prosecuting instances of theft.
For many years Tower Systems has offered a free Theft Check service to retailers using its Point of Sale software. We have advised lawyers, police, insurance companies as well as our retail customers. Our goal is top help retailers cut the cost of theft, especially employee theft.
A theft check that uncovers evidence of theft will result in a detailed report. Here is the text of a recent email to a customer from one of our theft expert witnesses advising what their research found. Attached to the email was detailed evidence:
Please find attached results of you theft check.
I have attached the following,
A PDF that summarises by hour the total number and value of Cancelled sales and deleted sales from January 2013 until January 2014 for the hours you specified.
A spreadsheet of the raw data used in construction of the table for further analysis if you require.
3 links Spreadsheets detailing the transactional flow for the period in question. It is in this format to reduce the size of the overall table.
I have analysed your data and can see considerable numbers of Cancelled Sales and Deleted Sale Items. Both of these transaction types are of similar nature. Cancelled sales are when an entire sale is removed uncompleted from the POS screen. This is done by pressing the CTRL+F2 button on the keyboard or corresponding Touch Screen or Programmable keyboard button. A sale items deleted is when individual sale items are deleted from the the POS screen using the F5 key. This is different from the Cancelled Sales button as it removes items one at a time rather than line by line.
I refer you to the summary PDF. The most concerning aspect of this is how similar the the values are per day for both cancelled sales and deleted sale items.
Average Value per Sale Item Deleted $11.91
Average Dollar Value Per Day Sale Item Deleted $100.55
Median Value of Sale Item Deleted per day $78.40
Average Value per Cancelled Sale $15.39
Average Dollar Value Per Day of Cancelled Sales $97.30
Median Value of Cancelled Sale per day $113.40
The nature of these similar values suggests that the staff in question are targeting an amount of approximately $200 per shift. However this figure could be slightly inflated due to the fact of staff using these facilities to price check items in the POS screen, for example when excise increase require cigarette prices to be increased. Also you need to take into account accurate use of this button for actual sale that were cancelled.
Also you can see the hours of the day that are targeted more frequently. Nearly 60% of all the transactions cancelled or that have a sale item deleted occurred in the period of 1pm – 2pm and 2pm – 3pm. This indicates that that perhaps during this time the staff was at the counter alone or had little supervision.
In looking at individual sales I refer you to Thursday 19th December on the attached spreadsheet, as a good example of suspicions behaviour being performed. The best way to look at this is to view the audit data is to view it in-conjunction with the sales that have been performed. This gives you the best idea of transactional flow. Between the hours of 12 and 4 pm there were 26 Sales that had sale items deleted or had sales cancelled. Looking specifically at Audit events created 2:50pm I note the following
- There are 2 sale items deleted, one second apart. This means that the Sale Item deleted button was pressed consecutively indicating that the items were one sale.
- There is no sale before this time for a six minute period.
- The proceeding sale is 30 seconds later and contained none of the items that have been cancelled.
- The proceeding sale contained no similar items, which indicated that it was just not an incorrect scan
- The items that have been purchased, drink and cigarettes are convenience based items, and would be unlikely that customers decided against purchase.
If you apply the logic above to the other transactional that happened in that day a pattern emerges to sales throughout the period you indicated.
It is clear that you have a serious problem, that will require from you a further investigation. I terms of determining an exact quantum this will need to be calculated by you using some of the evidence I have provided. If you would like more information of have nay questions please let me know.
We are proud of the free Theft Check service we provide and the value it delivers to our retail partners in terms of savings, prosecution and asset recovers.
With Christmas retail activity in high gear it is no surprise that there has been a surge in reports of employee theft. We have received several over the weekend and yesterday. Each report is taken through a proven process we have stablished for gathering and verifying evidence and considering an appropriate course of action.
In one case we stepped in for the retailer, at their request, and terminated employment of one staff member and laid out a framework for money being returned to the business.
While the vast majority of retail employees are honest, there are some who steal from their employer. Here is our advice for retail business owners for cutting the cost of theft by retail employees:
- Change the passwords that provide access to the most sensitive data right away and do not given them to anyone unless absolutely necessary.
- Change the roster, shake things up.
- Remove all handbags, phones and personal items from the counter.
- Get employees out of any non-uniform clothing with pockets.
- Implement random end of shift cash balancing several times in the day unannounced.
- Use employee cards for tracking sales by employees – these are better than a three code employee code.
- Stop employees ringing their own purchases up.
Treat your business as you would a large bundle of $100 notes. The more serious you are about managing your cash the more of it that will make its way to your bank account.
Tower Systems has shared fresh advice with retailers this week on how to reduce the impact of shopper and customer fraud in their businesses. With Christmas being fraud season in some retail channels the advice is timely and has been well received.
This latest advice is based on recent experiences in several retail businesses.
Our Point of Sale software has excellent fraud mitigation facilities that retailers can use themselves to reduce fraud and detect fraud. These continue to evolve based on field experience and feedback from fraud prevention experts.
Our work as expert witnesses in theft cases and work with police on investigations continues to inform our moves in this space.
Retailers properly using our software and following our advice can reduce the impact of fraud in their businesses.
Our software development and hardware teams have been working hard in recent weeks to bring to market a new POS software / CCTV integrated solution, an enhanced solution beyond what we have offered for many years.
We are thrilled to advise that the latest work is paying dividends with the new security bridge close to launch, delivering better and more useful security solutions integrated with our Point of Sale software.
The new security bridge is a best-practice solution, integrated with our Point of Sale software, delivering small business retailers tools with which they can better track and manage employee and shopper theft and through which they can expect to drive a better bottom line for their business.
The photo shows one of our many installations where the shop is monitored from the POS screen.
One of the most valuable benefits of Point of Sale (POS) software used by any retail business is a reduction in employee and customer theft.
Used properly, good POS software can significantly cut the cost of theft.
Theft reduction is achieved through consistent use of the software throughout the business. The less consistent a business the less likely they are to uncover theft. Those most likely to steal will notice how the software is used and through this reach a conclusion as to the likelihood they will be caught.
Tracking stock from when it enters a business to when it leaves is the key to detecting and reducing theft by employees and customers. Too often, small and independent retailers do not fully track and manage stock – making them appealing businesses for people likely to steal.
Here are the steps involved in tracking stock and reducing the cost of theft:
- Enter all incoming stock into your POS software. Include the quantity received to ensure that the current quantity on hand is accurate.
- Write off stock that is thrown away.
- Scan-out all stock that is returned to the supplier for any reason. Good software will have
- Sell items by scanning the barcode. Too often items are sold using department keys and therefore not tracking each specific item sold.
- Reorder stock by producing a reorder report using your software. This can usually be done by using a desired quantity on hand as the guide for the software to reorder to. Note: this process alone will highlight stock on-hand discrepancies.
- Undertake a spot stock-take: count the quantity on hand of an item and enter that into your POS software and compare this against what the software thinks should be on-hand. A discrepancy can indicate theft.
Once all stock is setup in your software, the time taken for spot stock-takes is minimal. This time is funded from the reduced theft that will certainly result.
Employees who see you track stock movement through spot stock-takes and other activities listed here will be deterred from stealing from the business as they will see the risk of being caught is higher.
Manage your business professionally and consistently and theft will cost less.
One of the areas members of our leadership team investigated when in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show two weeks ago was retail security.
For many years we have offered security camera system integration through our POS software. We have also provided expert witnesses in police investigations and for court cases pursuing employee theft.
At CES we got to see and interact with a range of new technology, some POS software integrated and others free standing. The CES event has enabled us to be more aware of the latest developments in the retail security and theft prevention in the US, the country most advanced in this field.
The most valuable measure retailers can take against employee theft remains the facilities in their software. Tower Systems is renowned for providing access to comprehensive and professional theft management / reduction facilities in its Point of Sale software. From deep level password protection of key business data to secret tracking of user activity, our software enables retailers to better protect their businesses and thereby reduce the cost of employee theft.
We have heard reports from several retailers in Victoria today of fake $50 notes being passed on by shoppers. Be careful. We urge retailers to watch the video from the Reserve Bank on spotting counterfeit bank notes.
We have been working with police and other authorities on theft matters in two states this week. Each case has taken up considerable time as we have sourced evidence to be used in cases being pursued against the accused, evidence that will stand the test of cross examination in court.
Each time we do this work we learn more about the processes of the police and, through this, ways we can guide and help our retail business customers to better manage their businesses for theft minimisation.
Next week, a senior member of our team will be in court on behalf of the prosecution as an expert witness.
Why is this relevant to small businesses considering our Point of Sale software … we’ve got your back when it comes to cutting the cost of theft to your retail business.
Every couple of days we seem to be helping one of our retailer customers resolve an employee or customer theft challenge. While we don’t have firm evidence, it feels like theft is on the rise.
Here are simple steps you can take to cut theft in any retail business based on years of experience in the area:
- Track everything you sell from ordering goods to the shop floor to the sales counter to returns. You can only manage what you track.
- Scan every item sold. Do not use department keys – allowing staff to enter the value of an item purchased.
- Track all sales by employee: using a code or barcode. This will cut mistakes.
- Undertake regular spot stock takes. In more than half incidents of employee theft this action would have revlaled the theft sooner.
- Reorder stock using your software. It’s fast, accurate and stops poor buying decisions.
- Set an end of shift cash balance target of $5.00. Many retailers achieve this – it takes discipline.
- Change your system passwords regularly. Make it a condition of employment that these passwords are never shared.
- Do random, during the day, cash balance checks.
- Use your software to check and report on behavior which could indicate employee theft. Good software will reveal employee activity likely to indicate fraud / theft.
- Establish rules for discounts, returns and refunds and use your software to manage these.
- Integrate your EFTPOS with your Point of Sale and reduce fraud opportunities.
- Follow your suspicions regardless. Put your business ahead of friendships.
To many retailers are losing too much money due to theft.