Best Practices

4 Ways to Reduce Theft in your Pharmacy

Theft is a major problem for many independent pharmacies. Find out the best ways to prevent it.

shoplifting-rms-pharmacy-pos.jpgWith so much hype, albeit well deserved hype, about credit card fraud, data breaches, and other more electronically based mischief, we sometimes forget to pay attention to just plain old fashioned theft.  But I know from conversations with many pharmacy owners that theft is still a major issue for independent pharmacies.  It’s not pretty to think about, especially when you have to open your eyes to the possibility of employee theft, but there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk of being the unwitting victim of theft.


  • Know what’s on your shelves – In my blog 2 weeks' ago, I briefly mentioned that it was important to conduct regular inventory counts. One of the reasons this is so important is to identify inventory shrinkage.  Basically, is what shows in your POS system as being in stock actually on the shelf?  Or are items mysteriously disappearing?  Monitoring and tracking this can help you identify trouble spots in your pharmacy.  Inventory shrinkage could be due to theft by customers, employee theft or a combination of both.  But if you know that certain products, or certain departments are being targeted, you can monitor those specific areas of your store more closely.
  • Know your customers – If you have a problem with theft that’s based with your customers, one of the best things you can do is train your staff to greet every customer that walks into your pharmacy. Look up, make eye contact, and ask if you can help them find anything.  Having a staff member out in the retail floor, if your pharmacy is larger, can also help as they can identify and assist customers aimlessly wandering around.  Don’t treat customers as potential thieves.  Just offer great, attentive customer service and you’ll cut down on theft in your pharmacy.
  • Control cash drawers – Turning attention to the possibility of an untrustworthy employee is never fun, but sometimes it’s necessary. This is why having specifically assigned cash drawers is so important.  If you regularly have cash shortages when you count out your tills at end of day, and all the cashiers use a community cash drawer, then you’ll never be able to fully identify the employee that’s causing these shortages.  You can use dual drawer functionality so that 2 clerks can share a single register.  When clerk A runs transactions, drawer 1 pops open.  When clerk B runs transactions, drawer 2 pops open.   This ensures employee accountability and allows you to pin point exactly which employee caused a shortage.   Whether due to theft or just an employee who needs a little extra training on cash handling, having the knowledge of precisely where the problem lies, is extremely valuable
  • Use biometrics – Another important thing for any pharmacy is to control who is accessing the system and what level of access they have. You should have trust levels set for employees based on their operational needs and capabilities. But if employees are sharing passwords, or you have a universal user for your POS system, it’s all for naught.  Make sure that each employee is set up with their own specific user information and then use biometric fingerprint readers for login.  Fingerprint login is automatically strong, unique, and secures your systems much more effectively than a username and password. 

Having to deal with theft in your pharmacy is an unpleasant necessity for any independent pharmacy. Luckily, Pharmacy POS systems can help you secure your pharmacy from some of the troubles commonly faced today. 

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