Shrinkage is a significant issue for retailers. It results in billions in losses every year. The higher your shrink rate, the lower your profits. But retail shrinkage isn’t an inevitability in business. You can take steps to reduce it, like the ones detailed below.
1. Know What Causes Retail Shrinkage
Before you can reduce retail shrinkage, you have to know what’s happening. You might realize that your products or money are disappearing, but you might not know exactly why.
There are three top causes of retail shrinkage. Administrative errors, such as errors in pricing, bad record keeping, or cash counting mistakes can all add up over time and cause a great deal of loss. Employee theft is another common cause of shrink. In fact, it accounts for almost half of all retail shrinkage. You might think your employees are trustworthy, but many will steal from you given the opportunity—they might steal products, abuse their discounts, skim cash out of the register, or abuse refunds. Customer theft, or shoplifting, is another cause of retail shrinkage that leads to billions in losses annually for retailers. Customers can steal items, switch price tags, fake returns, or otherwise steal from you.
Taking these three top causes into consideration, you first need to know why you’re taking on heavy losses. Take a closer look at your finances and your inventory and try to understand where you’re losing out.
2. Hire Carefully
Because employee theft is such a significant cause of retail shrinkage, it pays to do your due diligence when hiring. Check references and hire people you know well. Although these steps won’t completely eliminate the chances of employee theft, they can help reduce them.
3. Rotate Employee Assignments
If you look at the instances of cash shortages, shoplifting, or missing inventory and match them with your employee schedules, you might see patterns. Perhaps money and products always go missing when two certain employees are scheduled to work together. Perhaps your shrinkage is higher right before closing. You should make an effort to rotate employee assignments. Team different workers together or with you. Try to always have two people on the shift at all times. Rotating assignments can reduce your chances of theft and allow for insights into patterns.
4. Have a Witness for Discounts, Refunds, and Voids
Many employees will take advantage of discounts, refunds, or voids as a way to line their pockets with your cash. It’s prudent to ensure that a manager is present for all such situations at the cash register. This will deter employee theft.
5. Install Cameras
Installing cameras is a good way to deter both dishonest employees and customers from stealing. If people know that you’re always watching and can back up any accusations with proof, they’ll be less likely to steal. Storage rooms, the cash room, loading areas, and cash register areas should all have cameras to monitor the goings on in your store. Monitor trash removal as well, as employees will often steal merchandise concealed in outgoing trash bags to be retrieved later.
6. Create a Tip Line
Set up a tip line to give your workers a confidential way to communicate any suspicious behaviour that they see or suspect at work. Often, people will not want their coworkers to know that they were the ones who “ratted them out” in fear of retribution. Even if no one calls, just the fact that dishonest employees know that their coworkers are watching out for theft might be enough to reduce your shrinkage rate.
7. Automate Your Systems
Integrating cash management technology as well as an automated inventory system can allow you to have greater insights, better reporting, more accurate counts, and increased accountability. Using cash counters, sorters, and recyclers can keep your workers’ hands off your money as well as reduce the risk of administrative errors during cash handling.
Don’t let shrinkage ruin your business—be proactive.