Back to Blog

Yet another by-product of the Covid-19 pandemic is the decline in the use of cash to pay for retail purchases. Today’s consumers are much more likely to pay with credit and debit cards, or cashless services like Venmo, Zelle, Paypal, or ApplePay. Yet, a percentage of the population still prefers to use cash, and most retailers continue to employ cashiers alongside self-checkout kiosks to ring up sales. 

Front-line retail workers managing the register and accepting payments or making change all day long are usually the least experienced, lowest-paid employees. Unfortunately, these workers are also the ones most affected by the post-pandemic inflation taking a bigger bite out of weekly paychecks. Although fewer transactions may involve cash these days, cash remains a very attractive target for the majority of workers. Truth is, they may get away with it for a significant period of time if the store relies on manual processes to investigate the reasons why a cash drawer has come up short.  

Cash overages and shortages can take many forms 

Most cashiers are honest, hard-working individuals, and some cases of cash discrepancies are simply due to human error, with no intent to commit fraud. For example, the cashier could enter the wrong tender into the register, like entering $20 when the customer gave them a $10 bill. The register displays the amount of change to give back. If the cashier only relies on the register display, he will end up giving too much change. Another scenario is that a $20 bill has been put in the section for $10s by mistake. If the cashier doesn’t notice, too much change will be given inadvertently.

Discovering the exact reason why a cash drawer is over or short on any given day is no small task.

What’s more, cash might also disappear through no fault of the cashier. The shortage could actually be due to the cash office person who made a mistake filling the till, or worse, stealing cash themselves hoping to pin the blame on one or more cashiers. The cashier from the previous shift may have stolen the money and left the till short.  There is also the ever-present threat of a quick change artist or an overt theft by a customer who snatches money from the till and runs. 

While it is only a small percentage of cashiers who take money from the till, there are a lot of reasons why they may do so. Many are motivated by financial hardship or by their own greed or sense of entitlement. They may see others getting away with these thefts and perceive a low risk to being caught. Others may be coerced into committing fraud by an acquaintance or family member. Plus, it is pretty easy to take cash, especially with the reduced coverage in many stores. They can simply take the money out of the till, pocket money given to them by a customer or give out too much change to an accomplice. The more senior employees who are responsible for providing change to the registers or for “pulling” excess cash can also use those opportunities to remove funds. 

How can retailers protect against cashier fraud?

Discovering the exact reason why a cash drawer is over or short on any given day is no small task. Many retailers use a “shared till” approach, where multiple employees share the same register and often the same cash drawer, or till, during the course of the day. Any one of the cashiers could be responsible for the errors or fraud that led to the over or short position. In addition, to save time, many retailers are now only performing reconciling tills every other day, thereby multiplying the number of cashiers who could be responsible for a variance.  

The answer lies in technology.

Unfortunately, most store managers simply don’t have time to manually examine the records as frequently as required to determine if the over/short position is due to cashier fraud or some other error, or to identify exactly which cashier might be to blame. Yet, retailers can’t afford to ignore the situation, as it will only get worse if not detected and stopped, impacting profits and employee morale. The answer lies in technology. 

Using a tool like Appriss Retail’s Secure Cash Over/Short, retailers can quickly and accurately ensure lane and cashier accountability. Cashier and cash drawer transaction data from all registers can be easily consolidated to identify the concerning trends and discrepancies worth investigating to detect the cause of register overages and shortages. Using advanced data analytics powered by artificial intelligence, the software helps front-line managers stop cash register fraud in its tracks. 

  • Full Visibility Across All Cashiers – Drillable dashboards and reports focus on the store level activities, maintaining a history of shortages and overages for the store’s cashiers and registers, presenting trends and abnormalities.
  • Top 10 Cashiers Lists – Views of the Top 10 cashiers with the highest average drawer openings and the most cash discrepancies help managers recognize the cashiers most likely to be causing losses to the company, either intentional or unintentional. 
  • Easy Deep-Dive Analysis – Click-through functionality allows users to jump from summaries to the receipt level to gain insights into whether a cashier’s actions indicate a need for additional training or disciplinary action. 

Routine cashier oversight helps protect profits

The longer cash register discrepancies go undetected, the more likely it is for fraudulent behavior to escalate. Regular review of all cash register transaction data is the best way to catch overages and shortages quickly so they can be dealt with consistently. Employing a technology solution to review the data in real time is the best defense retailers can employ to prevent cash losses at the register.


4 Ways to Leverage Data-Driven Insights to Motivate Retail Employees



Cheryl Blake, Vice President of Loss Prevention Portfolio, Appriss Retail

Cheryl joined Appriss Retail via acquisition in 2019 and oversees all loss prevention products. She has balanced her 40+ year career between being a retail loss prevention practitioner and working with software solution providers, beginning her LP journey as a store detective in Detroit and progressing through leadership positions with several large retailers. Cheryl continues to be an active member of the loss prevention community and has been a frequent speaker at industry events.

Other Posts By This Author