Supportive Coaching Reduces Shrink and Adds to the Bottom Line

Interview with Corey Adams
Adams is the vice president of client services at Appriss Retail where, since 2011, he has helped 100+ retailers around the world maximize their success with the installation, development, and usage of analytics tools and programs. He manages a team of consultants working in the US and abroad. He has more than thirty years of experience in retail and loss prevention, ranging from a Global 50 retailer to small specialty chains in both field and corporate positions, as well as law enforcement.

Martin, an LP analyst for a major retail chain, looked at his screen and wondered. “Why were the cashiers at store 5221 popping open their cash drawers three times as often as cashiers at a similar store?” Cynthia, the store manager, rubbed her head as she read a notice from Martin that all the cashiers in her store needed to be retrained because the transactions contained “too many exceptions.” She cleared her schedule to start the hours of training, though she was uncertain where the associates were failing.

These fictitious characters illustrate a common disconnect. Poor cashier habits and untargeted training cause inefficiency and loss at the front of the store and create noise in the analytics channel. We talked with Corey Adams to find a way to address the issues.

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Why are cashier techniques and retraining LP’s problem? Isn’t that up to store operations?

LP professionals need to work with store operations and management to lower risk and reduce noise through cashier coaching. Sales reducing activities (SRAs) include cashiering techniques falling outside standard approved process. Point-of-sale (POS) improvisations, workarounds, and forgetfulness are often cited as training issues, but they need to be addressed because they cause noise in the data stream. This leads to false positives in the exception-based reporting (EBR) system, which then leads to unnecessary investigations. The noise also raises the threshold for what looks like outlier behavior. True fraud is often masked, and excessive SRAs often lead to lower profits and diminished customer experience.

How does LP get involved?

At an executive level, the LP team should be developing a closer relationship with operations. LP benefits from solutions that allow them to identify SRAs. They can approach operations with ways to improve key operations metrics—better customer experience, increased sales, greater efficiency, and lower shrink. Top-level executives also need to communicate to analysts and investigators that it’s okay to be curious.

Consider your example. Martin noticed unusual activity and prescribed a remedy. However, he should have been more specific. The manager will deliver generic coaching and do it for all the cashiers, whether they need it or not. Additionally, Martin should have followed his curiosity. In the real world, finding out the “why” behind unusual behavior can deliver big results. Is there a mechanical or software glitch that makes drawer-popping necessary?

Why is this an important consideration now?

Retailers have had tremendous employee churn this year, and we are looking ahead to holiday hiring. Supportive training helps stores retain employees, reducing hiring costs and employee fraud risk since new hires are more likely to steal than employees with longevity. Additionally, it communicates a commitment to employees.

What do you see as the highest hurdle?

The decision to make time to implement an improved coaching process. An automated system to monitor the need, the action taken, and the results would allow store management and LP the time to focus on delivering appropriate training. Once a process is in place, though, store management will be able to deliver less frequent, more impactful training. Better training leads to a more pleasant customer experience and more efficient operations. Plus, minimizing SRAs will dramatically improve profitability.

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