Front End Best Practices

As a refresher of some basic Front End best practices here are a few items that you could address immediately with very little additional effort or expense in your store.

Store Owned and Operated ATM’S
Store owned ATM’s offer a great opportunity to bring extra revenue into your business. However, they also represent a theft opportunity if not properly checked. Cash placed into the ATM should be logged and removed from cash on hand and placed into an AR ATM account. The balance of this AR ATM account should be monitored for any excessive growth. The person checking the ATM cash should vary and should be audited periodically by the owner or other key personnel in larger organizations. Failure to monitor cash levels going into the ATM may result in gradual theft over a period of time which can add up to a significant value.

Self-Check Out Registers
Self check out registers offer a great way to serve your customers while reducing labor costs. However, they should be treated the same as store owned ATMs above.

Cash on Hand Registers
You should monitor and maintain your store’s ending cash on hand levels. This can be accomplished through a simple sheet with maximum cash needs in one row by store, a row with actual ending cash on hand and a variance row. If you find excessive cash on hand on certain days of the week, you should adjust your deposit schedule or armored car pickups. By preventing excessive cash on hand at the store you will reduce the risk of robbery, and if one occurs you will reduce your loss. You may ask how reducing cash on hand reduces your chance of robbery. The answer, it reduces word of mouth. It is not uncommon for front office personnel to talk to people on unusual days and state “wow, we had over $100,000 in cash last night.” This statement while innocent may reach the ears of the wrong individual.
Safe Security
This area is very simple but rarely followed-lock you’re safe! Many stores leave the safe unlocked during the day. It sounds simple but laziness sometimes prevails.

Cash in Till Levels
Perform frequent pick-ups on registers during the day to prevent cash buildups in register tills. Many front-end systems will track cash levels and signal necessary pickups.

Unused register Lanes
Any closed registers should have their lanes blocked. This prevents two occurrences, one being extra exits for shoplifters to work their way to the front door. The second issue relates to cash in the till. It is not uncommon for thieves to work their way behind a cashier in an unused lane. The person then reaches in the open till in a split second when tender is exchanging hands between the cashier and the actual customer. By reducing the “grab” you will reduce liability.

Monitor Void Logs and Training Mode Logs
Take time to review logs provided by your front-end system. By reviewing these logs you can prevent the opportunity to get product out of the store or maybe even cash. It is very simple to put a register in training mode and ring customers up and in the end collect the cash. Sometimes personnel may put a sign up on the register, Debit/Credit broken, cash and checks only. By reviewing logs of training ring ups and tender types collected, you can find patterns that may be followed up with camera systems to identify potential problems.

In addition to reviewing the logs themselves review the security of your front-end system. Typically access to “training mode” should be limited to management and not available to all cashiers. This should also be a time to review the availability of the manager key/card and who has access to them. This policy has a tendency to get relaxed over time; access to this card should be reviewed regularly.

Social Media

Digital advancements continue to drive a new approach to shopping, with social media and mobile phones are emerging as key influencers this holiday season, according to Deloitte's 24th Annual Holiday Survey of retail spending and trends.
Social media is growing with almost 20 percent of the consumers planning to use it during their holiday shopping. Consumers in all age groups plan to embrace social media over the holidays. While 52 percent of those who expect to use social media during the shopping process are in the 18-29 year-old age group, 33 percent are in the 30-44 year-old age group and 10 percent are in the 45-60 years-old age group.

The mobile phone is another emerging digital tool for the holidays that is expected to be used by nearly 20 percent of the consumers. Those consumers plan to find store locations, research prices, find product information, get discounts and coupons and read reviews.

Consumers have become much more cautious about their purchasing decisions, and these behaviors could have a lasting effect. As retailers shift gears for a recovery during the holiday season and beyond, they should consider seizing the opportunity to reinvigorate their brand and relevancy to consumers who have embraced a new consumption mindset. That may include new marketing, pricing and promotion strategies that focus on re-engaging the consumer and differentiating a retailer's merchandise and services.

PCI: Past, Present and Future

We are at the end of another year and more stories in the news about data breaches make you think about PCI past, present and future.
PCI past was all about how big companies were hit by hackers or others that stole large amounts of credit card data. “It couldn't happen to us because we are such a small company no one would bother” was the way smaller retailers felt about PCI.
PCI present tells you that is exactly what is happening. There are breaches of small businesses happening every day and these businesses are spending large amounts of hard earned cash to diagnose incidents, cover fines for being non-compliant and the actual losses of the card holders. In a Wall Street Journal article in 2005 over 80% of the data breaches have been small businesses.

PCI future: hopefully all retailers, big and small, are currently PCI compliant. The PCI rules change periodically so it may be wise to review your status with any new rules that become effective. If you are not PCI compliant today or if you are not sure about your software's PCI status please visit: