The Masvingo Business Community has lamented theft by employees and customers saying these were among the major factors contributing to business shrinkage.
This came out at a business shrinkage management workshop held at Reformed Church University (RCU) where a number of solutions were discussed.
Other causes of shrinkages that were noted include administrative errors, fraud, false payments, alterations, overbilling, rising operational costs and breakages.
The two presenters Dr Oscar Chagwiza of the RCU Department of Commerce and N. Richards Group (NRG) director Andrew Chekani urged businesses to improve their management systems to reduce shrinkages
Among these concerns were issues to do with theft by employees and customers as well as administrative errors, fraud and breakages.
Dr Chagwiza said businesses should hire thoughtfully, use cameras, rotate employees, having and witnesses whenever discounts or refunds are being done.
“Hiring is an important aspect in business but before hiring, an organization must have a hiring policy based on establishment and range of activities and employee assignments should be rotated to avoid over familiarisation which may open up pilferage routes.
"When hiring, vetting is needed lest you hire a criminal. Vetting methods includ police clearance, reference letters from school head and pastor is important,” said Chagwiza.
He warned against specialisation which he said opened pilferage routes and may lead to special arrangements with fraudsters.
"While specialisation brings efficiency, over-familiarization with a system within one department may open up pilferage routes. Employees must be deployed at the commencement of duty, especially till operators. This minimises ‘special arrangements’ with customers-cum-fraudsters,” said Chagwiza.
In his presentation, Chekani said businesses especially those operating in the retail sector should have efficient operating systems.
"If you can't put proper systems and controls in your retail business, you would rather close the door to the customers until you are up to date without delay unless if your goal has shifted to turning your enterprise into a charitable organization.
"If opportunities are left on the table for employees to steal, they would surely steal. You can't afford to have high shrinkage, otherwise your business will be shrunk and kicked out of the competitive turf,” said Chekani.
The shrinkage management conference was attended by both small and large retailers in Masvingo which include OK Mart, OK Zimbabwe and N Richards Group of stores.