Fraud Prevention for an Apparel Chain
A women’s apparel chain of stores had a serious theft problem, both from employees and customers. Clothing and often expensive leather jackets costing $300 (selling for $600) were being stolen and then returned for a refund. In our example, a $900 loss was incurred on a $300 item — and sometimes repeated! This seriously affected the overall profit and loss.
The existing return policy requires a receipt or the original price tag must be on the garment and there is a 30 day time constraint. The sales clerk wrote a “code” on the back of each garment tag to prevent fraud, but was not effective particularly over time.
Find a method to track each item individually and validate all returns as legitimate sales. Tie a garment to a specific sales ticket without slowing down processes at the registers.
Solution and Implementation
The customer runs NCR CounterPoint Point of Sale Software. The solution Tech-Acumen presented was to create a custom modification to extend their POS system.
Create a unique identifier on each price tag that can be scanned into the sales ticket at the register. Revamp the price tags to include a unique barcode affixed to the back of the item’s tag.
Modify Ticket Entry to require entry of the unique identifier. Ticket Lines cannot be entered without the barcode scan.
Provide a method to look up a ticket and line item using the price tag identifier for returns. If the sales history does not exist or the item numbers do not match, a return is disallowed. The price for the return is the same as the original selling price.
A sold item is always associated with a specific ticket and line item (even before it’s posted). Voiding a ticket removes the association or restores the original association if it’s a return. Thus, a sold item can only be returned. Posting a ticket will transfer the association to ticket history.
This solution provides an additional fraud prevention benefit; even if there was a receipt or gift receipt, it is easy to see if the garment was actually the one that was purchased on the ticket.
The system was implemented and effectively reduces fraud and ensures accuracy for payments and returns. The ROI was better than hoped and management is very pleased. Virtually no training was required and useful ticket information pops up on the screen for easy returns. Manual tasks are eliminated.