Real World Advice for Retailers
Real World Advice for Retailers Loss Prevention, Chapter 1
Loss prevention in the retail industry addresses the disappearance of merchandise and currency, specifically cash. The following is the first in a series of articles that discuss common loss prevention issues and how a POS system can assist merchants in minimizing loss in all aspects of their operation. The theft of cash presents a major problem to retailers, and especially to merchants that do not have a good POS system. In most cases, the thieves are your own employees typically those persons whose jobs require them to regularly handle cash. Without a program of prevention, or a good system to control cash receipts, there are many opportunities for employees to steal money. The following is a list of common techniques used by thieves and explanations of how a POS system can deter your cashiers from using these techniques.
In most cases, cashiers will share their tills with other cashiers or users. This opens the door to allow theft by anyone using the till throughout the day. Unfortunately, the person closing the till at the end of the day will come up short and will likely be blamed for the shortage when, in fact, the culprit is often someone else. In the event that a till must be shared between two or more individuals, a POS system can track which cashier performed each transaction, then provide reports on who performed most of the transactions, thereby giving you an starting point to determine who is at fault.
A POS system will help eliminate this problem because when you notice a significant shortage, switch cashiers daily and keep the “over/short” reports , generated by the POS system, to track individual performance. If a till is short when John and Mary work together, on the next shift put John with Nancy and Mary with James. This will help isolate who is causing the shortages.
Spot checks of cashiers’ tillsduring the working day also helps in preventing employeesfrom “dipping their hands in the till.” With a good POS system, managers can come, unannounced, with a new till and float to any POS station, then perform a “blind close” of the cashier’s till andopen a new till for the cashier all in seconds. The manager can then take the old till to their office to balance it using a back office program connected to the POS station. Regular, unplanned till and float replacements are a great deterrent from cash theft from the drawer.
Failing to give receipt to customer and voiding the sale after customer leaves.
First of all, this is only effective if the merchandise is paid for in cash. Secondly, a good POS system should be able to perform a detailed audit of every void performed on each POS station; showing who did the void,
when it was done, who was the customer, etc. Thirdly, most POS systems can be configured to disallow specific users from performing voids or canceling transactions once an item is entered. In this case, the cashier must tender out the sale to cash and if it is a mistake, take the resulting receipt to a manager with an explanation why it should be voided. Furthermore, some POS systems track each transaction in an electronic journal file which can be directly accessed by management or from reports. Frequent voids, no sales, or reports of till skimming should initiate surveillance of the suspected employee while at work.
Avoiding ringing the sale; pocketing the cash
This technique assumes that the customer knows the price of the merchandise they are buying (for example a newspaper or a bottle of soda or a package of cigarettes) and leaves the correct amount and promptly walks out of the store without waiting for the cashier to enter the sale into a cash register and produce a receipt. This is generally caused by slow service or long line ups at the check out counter. With a POS system, most merchandise will have bar code labels which can be easily scanned, thus enabling the cashier to process sales in a fraction of the time and virtually eliminating line ups and slow service. So, once the items are scanned into the POS system, the cashier will not be able to void or cancel the sale and they will have to process the correct amount to be tendered. At the end of each shift, a “Z Report” can be run to show how much was sold at the POS station and how much the cashier should submit in their deposit.
Under ringing the sale; pocketing the difference
This is a similar technique to the previous one, except that instead of not ringing in the items at all, the cashier assumes they are being watched and therefore rings in the items for a lower amount than the customer actually pays. Again,a POS system with a bar code scanner will force the cashier to enter allitems into the system at the correct price, therebymaking the cashier responsible to submit the correct amount of money at the end of his/her shift.
Imprinting more than one charge on a credit card transaction; exchanging surplus charge slip for cash
This is a common technique used in high traffic retail environments where credit cards are the normal form of payment and the merchant processes the cards manually. In this case, the thief is stealing from the store but the merchant does not know it because the retail customer is unwittingly paying the bill. The thief takes two credit card drafts and places them into the imprinter simultaneously. Then on a separate day, usually in another calendar month, submits the bogus draft and pockets the difference in cash. The owner of thecredit cardwill often miss the mistake because the second charge will show up on a different statement. This is another area of where a POS system virtually eliminates loss;most POS systems integrate all the card payment processing functions, so the cashier cannot create an additional charge slip or create a charge slip for more than the correct amountof the merchandise rung up on the POS terminal.