Dear Retail Employees of the World,

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but the jig is up.  Don’t shoot the messenger here, but you should know that the bosses and so-called fatcats of the world have got their eye on you, making sure you’re not helping yourself to the company till.  Fortune magazine reports that, globally, employees are responsible for 28% of “shrinkage,” a term which here represents the resulting monetary loss—by theft or other methods—to the retail industry as a whole; it’s also an excellent example of what happens when economists coin phrases from cold baths.  Now, I am all for sticking it to the man—remember, remember the fifth of November and all that—but consider that a statistic like that isn’t the result of a guess.  There’s enough evidence to look at the losses and be able chalk a certain number of them up to employee theft.  So, they’ve already figured out what you-all are up to.  And now, it just got a lot easier to pinpoint exactly which ones of you are behind it.

And, please, don’t assume that it’s just the big boxes that have access to the right forensic technology to nail you.  There’s two things wrong with that logic.  The first is the moral dilemma of setting your sights on a small-time operation.  The struggle is real: I sympathize with you.  But if you’re stealing from a one location Mom-and-Pop, you’re really hurting their ability to make a living, which can have a ripple effect on your whole community.  I’ll be the first to argue on your behalf if you want to pocket merchandise from, say, Wal-Mart and the like (that’s me talking, not Kounta, by the way).   They get huge tax breaks to set up shop in your town, which you subsidize, and they underpay their employees who have to make up the difference through social programs, which you subsidize.  But to steal from someone who’s actually invested something of value (all of their money) into trying to make a living and serve customers—this is where I draw the line.  I don’t care if they’re jerks to you: don’t do it.

If that doesn’t sway you against the prospect of a little theft at work, then consider the second reason you shouldn’t try and get away with something at a small store.  They’ve probably got the same kind of technology as the big boys now.  I’ve written elsewhere on this site about how cloud computing is an enabling factor in getting high tech tools into low budget hands, and this type of digital forensics is no different.

Silverstar Analytics

Kounta has helped thousands of businesses get a handle on their day-to-day operations, with tools and insights that give a new level of business intelligence to the Main Street merchant.  But now they’ve gone and partnered with Silverstar Analytics, a loss prevention tool that IDs suspicious patterns, transactions, and other questionable actions.  Now it can “plug in” to Kounta, and monitor every move you make at the register.  If you’ve got a higher than average void rate at the POS, Silverstar’s going to let someone know.  If you’re ringing up a lot of gum, but the actual amount of the stuff is unchanged while there’s an unexplained absence of Filet Mignon, Silverstar’s reporting will help guide management to you.  If you’re processing a lot of receiptless returns and refunding on to gift cards, that will become apparent.  And don’t think you can rely on the evidence being circumstantial to get away with it.  Silverstar also integrates with surveillance systems to corroborate the documented policy violations with real time video of you committing the deed.  And if you’re thinking that you’ll just wait till the boss is away to go unnoticed, I’ll remind you that Silverstar is cloud-based, just like Kounta.  The data is synchronized in real time between systems; she’ll get real time alerts of your shenanigans—and have access to all the relevant data—no matter where she is.  Oh, and there’s no extra hardware or support costs that would make this cost prohibitive.  It’s a subscription service, and will undoubtedly more than pay for itself in recovered revenue.  Even the smallest retail shops will be on to you, because Silverstar is absolutely FREE for single location outlets running Kounta.  That’s the bad news for you, Retail Employees of the World.

Here’s the good news: armed with this new knowledge you will avoid your own revenue losses—the ones you incur when you can’t work because you’re in jail, as well as any court costs and fines they tag you with.  But even better, as loss prevention becomes more effective at your place of employment, revenue stands to increase.  This post over at LP Innovations calculates the annual loss of a single outlet store—with a relatively “good” rate of shrinkage of 1.15%—at $34,500.  You know this now.  So put your hands back in your pockets, and go ask for a raise!