Magazine article Drug Topics

In-Store Computer Monitoring Cuts Loss, Offers Savings

Magazine article Drug Topics

In-Store Computer Monitoring Cuts Loss, Offers Savings

Article excerpt

A computer program allowing a drugstore manager instant access to point-of-service (POS) data translates to much quicker and earlier action against theft. The program was explained at a National Association of Chain Drug Stores Human Resources & Loss Prevention Conference, held in San Diego last month.

"In the past, all we had was executive management reports, with no one down below aware of what was going on [in the store]. Now, we've pushed data down to the hands of the people who can have the most impact at a time when they can still do something about it," said Paul Antonelli, director, loss prevention field operations, CVS, Woonsocket, R.I.

The cornerstone of the program is the store management system (SMS), which provides a store's management teammanager, assistant manager, and shift supervisor-instant retrieval of information at store level, Antonelli said. Under SMS, each POS terminal is linked directly to the store's management system computer, which is, in turn, linked to a mainframe off-site.

Pharmacy also has a computer that is linked to the store computer indirectly via the mainframe, Antonelli said. Authorized field personnel, including loss prevention representatives, can also access information from the mainframe-via portable laptop computers-when they are on the road.

If the computer program detects a POS exception (an unusual occurrence, such as two voids in a row) within the sales data it has gathered, the manager will see an "alert" message when he or she starts up the system at the beginning of the day. The manager can quickly bring up data on the screen and show them to the cashier or other employee responsible.

Introduced last June, the system was developed in-house by CVS' information systems department. According to Antonelli, SMS, a DOS-based program that uses pop-up windows, is designed so that a manager can switch easily from one application to another without having to save files. This makes it convenient to peek briefly into sales figures even while working in another area.

CVS designed SMS to be proactive instead of reactive to POS problems, Antonelli said. "It is hard to show this quantitatively. I can't say, based on a study CVS did, that 83 staff members of CVS didn't steal. I do know that SMS has gone a long way toward keeping people from stealing in the first place."

Antonelli acknowledged that some people will steal no matter what loss prevention system or strategy is in place, but "SMS is fabulous at detecting them at an early stage, before the losses become huge," he said.

Even in the pharmacy, an eye can be kept on sales, he added. …

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