By Howard Riell, Associate Editor
Employee theft is one of the biggest causes of shrink among c-stores, and retailers are combating it with high-tech solutions like high speed video cameras and online monitoring.
But as is often the case, the most effective tactics are often the low-tech ones: training, consistent monitoring and setting a tone that puts staff members on notice.
Indeed, as security experts and store owners have found, high-tech solutions can sometimes make security problems worse.
“I’m sorry to report that c-store employees are still winning the theft war,” said Chris McGoey, the principal of McGoey Security Consulting, based in Los Angeles. “It’s the nature of the business that one or two employees have full charge of all the store assets, especially on the swing and graveyard shifts. A small business operator or franchisee simply cannot be there all the time, especially with a 24-hour operation. The business owner must rely on others to properly record sales and watch over the inventory in their absence.”
Technology obviously has its place in a c-store operation, especially with monitoring patterns of sales and inventory variations.
“But oftentimes low-tech is best,” McGoey said. “I think it is best to have clearly defined and articulated duties and expectations for each shift so every employee knows that he or she is accountable for the assets of the store.”
The fact that the store operator monitors all these systems puts the employees on notice that things will be missed and the employee on duty is accountable.
“The high-loss stores lack tracking systems and accountability and dishonest employees will take advantage of that failure,” he warned.
LET’S BE HONEST
Randall Atlas, principal of Atlas Safety & Security Design Inc. in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., said that other than bar codes, he is unaware that the profusion of security technology is helping keep employees honest. His prescription? “Good old-school people supervision and accountability.”
In fact, Atlas goes farther, noting that technology can at times be used against retailers. “(Stores can prove) less secure due to young employees who have skills to compromise the system.” His preferred approach is decidedly non-technological. Atlas said store owners’ biggest security mistake is not holding employees accountable.
One of the most highly effective tactics for retailers is video surveillance and integrated point-of-sale monitoring systems that allow sales transactions to be overlaid over the video image, so the managers can compare what is being rung up on the register versus what is being passed across the counter, according to Frank Pisciotta, CSC, president of Business Protection Specialists Inc. of Raleigh, N.C. At the same time, Pisciotta added, “managing back doors with proper alarming is important to ensure stock does not go out the back.”
Echoing McGoey and Atlas, Pisciotta is firm that higher tech tools doesn’t translate to being more secure.
“Absolutely not,” Pisciotta said. “When systems are not designed or managed properly, it is very easy to waste a lot of money with little return on investment.”
Stay tuned to CSD‘s September issue for more on how retailers can pair high-tech and low-tech solutions to ensure they’re using best practices in store security.