One of the biggest areas of loss for any retail store is there cash register, or point of sale. Think about it… cashiers are an entry level position. Most people who’ve never worked a day in their lives will probably start off as a cashier. That’s scary to me. Someone with no experience, and in most cases, little maturity is now responsible for thousands of dollars every single day. Professional thieves know this, and will regularly target new cashiers to carry out theft/fraud at the registers. What are the common ways for theft to happen and what can you do to stop shoplifting at the point of sale?
It’s a busy Saturday afternoon. Your checkout lanes are wide open and your cashiers are trying their best to keep the crowd moving. A customer approaches a register operated by a brand new cashier and purchases a single bag of candy. He tenders his $.75 total with a $50 bill. Before you know it, he’s asked for change a few times and has really confused your cashier. The next thing you know, he walks out of the store $400 dollars richer. You’ve just been the victim of a quick change artist.
It’s late Friday night. You’re down to one cashier as the last of the customers filter out the store. A customer approaches the register with a $399 pair of wireless headphones. He hands it to the cashier and she passes it through the point of sale. She deactivates the Checkpoint label and tells the customer his total. “That’ll be $39.99, sir”, She says with a smile. He smiles back, purchases the item and exits the store. Once again, you’re the victim of a theft. This time, the fraud scheme used is price switching.
It’s early Wednesday morning. It’s a historically slower sales day, so you start the day with only one or two cashiers. A customer approaches the register with several cases of water piled high in the basket. Your cheerful cashier scans one package and enters in the quantity. The customer gladly pays for a basket of water and exits the store. As he exits, the EAS towers sound. “It must be the basket sir, we don’t put checkpoint labels on water”, your door greeter says, waving the customer through. What both associates failed to see was the large quantity of razor blades the customer had hidden at the bottom of the basket.
You may think these incidents are few and far between, but I can guarantee you that this is happening in your store. It’s much easier and carries lower risk for a thief to operate in this manner. After all, if they are questioned by the cashier, they can just pretend that the item was out of sight. So what can you do to stop shoplifting at your registers? Training.
You don’t need the most advanced security system and you definitely don’t need a full time Loss Prevention staff. A group of well trained cashiers can put thousands of dollars back into your store each month. Do you have a solid training plan in place for each new hire? Or, does each new cashier receive about 15 minutes of “training” before they are thrown to the wolves? Unfortunately, most managers do not put enough emphasis on proper training and far too often, we see the second scenario take over. So what can you do?
You’ve been in the management business for a while now, I’m sure. You’ve seen all the ways people have tried to steal from you. Take that knowledge and build your training program around that. If your store is frequently targeted with price switches on certain products, provide initial as well as routine follow up training on how to identify pricing. It’s not good enough to give new cashiers a bunch of training and never follow up. My best stores provide training on a daily basis. There are always new theft trends and new products that arrive in the store each week, and it’s up to you as a manager to keep your cashiers one step ahead.
I mean this in the nicest way possible, but make LP awareness “dummy proof”. Let’s say you carry a wide assortment of headphones. They range in price from $3.99 to $499.99. Your cashier may never know the difference between any of them and thus, susceptible to being conned. Make a standard in the store that says that every headphone over $49.99 will have a checkpoint label. That way the cashier can identify the product as over X dollar amount if they see the label, making it easier for them to identify price switches.
You can take that example and go through your entire store. Not only are you helping your cashiers to identify the higher priced product, you’re in turn making it harder for thieves to steal it. Sometimes, to stop shoplifting, you have to take a holistic approach and attack the problem from several different angles. One of those should always be proper training on the cashier team.
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