Retail shrinkage, or shrink, is a term used in retail loss prevention. It refers to any type of loss identified as missing money or inventory that should be present but isn’t actually on hand or saleable. It can come in myriad forms, such as customer theft, damage, bookkeeping errors, internal theft, or vendor fraud, and it can affect any company, although it is most prevalent in the retail industry. The average shrink percentage is about two percent of sales in retail. Although that might sound low, when it’s all put together, this accounts for tens of billions of dollars in losses for retailers each year.
If you own a retail business, you must be proactive in preventing shrink before it starts to significantly cut into your profits and negatively affect your bottom line.
Retail Shrinkage Affects Everyone
When business owners face considerable retail shrinkage, they must often resort to raising their prices or reducing their employee wages to account for the losses. This affects the consumers who must then pay higher prices. It affects the employees who must work for lower wages, for fewer hours, or with fewer perks and benefits. And it affects the business owner who is then placed at a competitive disadvantage. He will have more difficulty attracting and retaining high-quality employees and may lose loyal customers over the price increases.
It is vital for the retail business owner to prevent shrinkage in order to avoid these far-reaching consequences for everyone involved.
Types of Shrink
Employee theft is the number one source of shrink in the retail industry. It can include pocketing cash, discount abuse, under-ringing, sweet-hearting, refund abuse, or the blatant theft of merchandise.
The second biggest source of shrinkage is shoplifting. This not only includes customers hiding merchandise in their bags and walking out of the store without paying but also altering or swapping price tags and other methods of theft.
Administrative errors make up about 15 percent of the total shrink rate. Pricing errors due to markups or markdowns, bookkeeping mistakes, and counting, sorting, and storing errors during cash handling can cost retailers a lot of money.
Vendor fraud is a small category of shrink but it must still be considered in your loss prevention strategy if you want to prevent it. It most often occurs during the delivery and return of merchandise.
Preventing Shrink with Automated Cash Solutions
To combat these avoidable losses, retail business owners should consider investing in cash management solutions. Automation will allow you to increase visibility and accountability. Here are just some of the solutions you should consider.
A cash recycler that collects and dispenses currency will help you curb shrinkage by reducing the risk of human error, ensuring that every dollar is automatically accounted for at your registers, and keeping your money safely locked up. Your employees and customers will be unable to steal from your registers when you invest in cash recycling.
Currency counters and sorters take your money out of your employees’ hands. When you let these machines do all of the counting, sorting, and reporting your end-of-day sales, you give your employees fewer opportunities to steal from you. These devices will also alert you to counterfeit fraud.
A fully integrated cash management solution that is incorporated within your POS system can help you increase accountability, so if a suspicious situation arises, you’ll know exactly where to look. When your employees know that their every move is being watched when they’re handling your money, they’ll think twice before stealing. A fully integrated cash management system will enable individual logins with personal identification numbers as well as automatic deposit validation, money reconciliation, and storage into cassettes that can only be removed by management or armoured car services.
Retail business owners who rely on technology as part of their loss prevention strategy see lower overall shrink than those who don’t.