How to beat the cash loss conundrum

The rain pattered across my window, I'd been in this office for too long, felt like days...weeks even. I shook myself awake. "Snap out of it!" I thought to myself, "You've got a mystery to solve!"

My fingers once again, wearily counted the cash from the drawer, "There's a discrepancy dammit!"

When a substantial cash discrepancy hits, every experienced retailer/ manager at some point has had to become a Sam Spade, a Dick Tracy, or a Sherlock Holmes to figure out where, how, why, and who. In this article, we cover the true costs of cash loss and methods to prevent its occurrence.

Playing detective

Cash till discrepancies are a common occurrence for the majority of retail stores. These discrepancies will happen for a variety of reasons such as wrong amount entered, wrong change given, or perhaps even deliberate falsification. However many of these discrepancies can be limited through the use of technology. Depending on the size of the cash till discrepancy or the regularity in which they occur, you'll find yourself asking questions such as:

1.) When did the event occur?

2.) How much is the till out?

3.) Who was on shift at the time?

4.) Was it an honest mistake or something malicious?

Thankfully with most modern Point of Sale (POS) systems, irregularities such as voided sales, activation of training mode, or any other method of opening the till drawer, are easy to spot and flag. Even the size of a discrepancy can be found at the press of a button. Some of the more savvy retailers also integrate their PoS systems into their security systems. The integration of PoS data and the security data enables the retailer to resolve the issue faster.

For example to find the exact time the discrepancy occurred the retailer needs to check to PoS records for the time of the occurrence and then the CCTV to see who was on shift and how much was taken.

Crime prevention

Prior to the integration of technology there was no way to locate a discrepancy until the end of the day. Even when a discrepancy was found, there was no way to resolve the matter, other than an ID parade of the staff who worked that shift. This method wasted manager's time, employee's time and in many cases left staff disgruntled and offended. Linking the time of the discrepancy with CCTV footage (or another user identification security system) allows you to avoid all that hassle, wasted labour and impact on staff morale.

One simple and fairly inexpensive way to deter till attacks is to outfit the security or web camera focused on your PoS terminal with a data capture device that synchronises the video footage with the incoming PoS data. This method provides an overlay on the footage that allows you to monitor the transactions as they happen on the video.

A more expensive solution is to install an intelligent till system that records and monitors the cash entering and leaving the drawer.

This method would allow the user and manager to note any discrepancy details such as; when it happened, who was logged in to the till at the time, and how much the till is out/over.


The true cost of cash loss is not just the money itself, the true cost also includes the extra labour involved in the activities surrounding a cash discrepancy. Installing security systems to minimise cash loss prevents the negative morale that comes with using the 'guilty-until-proven-innocent' method of dealing with cash inconsistencies.