Inevitably, somewhere between the manufacturer and the cash register, some of your merchandise disappears. Every retailer has this problem; in fact, it adds up to more than $42 billion in annual losses nationwide. The three biggest causes of shrinkage are administrative errors, employee theft, and customer theft. Here’s how to counteract them.
1. Use a good inventory management system.
Wherever human beings are doing the counting, organizing, and recording, errors are sure to happen. Choose software that:
- Organizes product and vendor information
- Integrates with your POS system so that inventory data is automatically updated after every transaction
- Generates accurate purchase orders
2. Tighten up your inventory receiving process.
To minimize mistakes:
- Cross-check against the PO at the time of delivery
- Call the vendor within 24 hours to resolve inconsistencies
- Tag and label merchandise immediately
3. Record sales consistently.
Any currently available POS system will do this automatically.
4. Take physical inventory.
It’s the only way to reveal discrepancies between what your inventory software says you have and what you have. Cross-reference the manual counts against software records to see where shortages are occurring, for example with a particular cash register or employee, or during the same shift and day every week.
5. Train employees in loss prevention.
Letting everyone know that you have a strong plan to stop theft can deter both employees and customers.
6. Improve pre-employment screening.
The reality of retail is that employee turnover is high and company loyalty usually low. Besides, employees have less supervision and easy access to your valuables. Do your due diligence in hiring people with no history of dishonesty, including nationwide criminal background checks and verification that resumes are complete and truthful.
7. Install a security system.
Large, visible cameras act as warnings to thieves to pick an easier target. They also help catch and convict criminals after thefts occur.
Inventory shrinkage is a challenge that will never go away. And that means your efforts towards loss prevention can never stop either. Success lies in ongoing processes and continuous attention to keep your merchandise right where it belongs.