Want To Cut Shrink By 20 Percent? Forget LP, Fix Your Systems

Shoplifters and employees who steal are classic in-store loss-prevention problems, but fully one-fifth of shrink is due to administrative errors and supplier fraud—things that LP isn't designed for but that conventional IT should be a lot better at dealing with. According to the annual "Global Retail Theft Barometer" report out this week from the Centre for Retail Research in the U.K., about 20 percent of shrink worldwide is due to administrative errors (including "pricing mistakes, accounting errors and process failures," the report says) and fraud or errors by suppliers.

That's a huge chunk of loss that should be fixable with nothing but better automation. The other 80 percent is predictably split between external and internal theft, though that split varies widely: In the U.S. it's 36 percent shoplifters and 44 percent employees, while worldwide that's flipped: 43 percent shoplifting and 35 percent internal theft. But using IT to cut administrative-error shrink has at least one big advantage over Loss Prevention: Those errors aren't working hard to hide themselves. And if you can use better systems to cut admin-error shrink in half, that's roughly as good as catching a quarter of your shoplifters.