Preventing Waste and Theft in Your Smart Fridge

Our new BA 1 Smart Fridge helps you combat shrinkage and maximize ROI
top of a foodspot smart fridge

FoodSpot Microstores offer the most secure solution for selling restaurant-quality food unattended. Our smart fridge is designed to be robust to challenges every retail operation faces, particularly shrinkage. Shrinkage refers to inventory loss from shoplifting, employee theft, or spoilage. It’s estimated that retail operations across the board lose anywhere from 1.7% to 3% of inventory due to shrinkage.

Shrinkage will be a reality for every retail operation as long as there are bad apples. Sometimes it’s an untrustworthy employee. Sometimes it’s a 20-year-old college student wanting a free meal. Other times it’s actually a bad apple that needs to be tossed.

Based on industry experience and customer feedback, we have implemented features that empower you to protect against these bad apples. Below, we explain how you can use these features to prevent shrinkage and maximize your ROI.

Preventing Waste

Waste, or food spoilage, is a challenge for all foodservice operations. When stocking up, please instruct your delivery staff to practice FIFO (First In, First Out), and always place newer products behind older items.

Under the Inventory tab of your dashboard, you can see stocked items and their corresponding expiration timeline. When an item is stocked, its Expiry Status bar starts ticking down from 100% based on the expiration you set when you scanned it.

inventory table from a smart fridge dashboard
Expiry Status is easy to spot in the Inventory Tab of the Dashboard

The Expiry Status column should be one of the first places your retail manager checks to see which items to pull from inventory. Some operators may choose to discount items that are near expiry to further minimize waste.

The Dashboard tab shows a chart of the Top 10 Expired Items, giving you an idea of items that need more attention:

bar chart showing top 10 expired food products in a smart vending fridge operation
Our Dashboard gives you real-time data on your menu’s performance.

If an item is consistently showing up on this chart, reconsider how many of these items you produce. You may consider replacing it with a new offering. We also encourage you to periodically revisit your merchandising strategy to continually improve your sales.

Preventing Shoplifting

Your FoodSpot smart fridge is equipped with a deadbolt lock that only releases with a payment method. Because each item inside is tagged with RFID stickers, customers are charged for whatever they take, preventing any blatant shoplifting. However, even with this feature, dishonest customers may unlock the fridge, remove a sticker from a food item, and take the item to avoid being charged. This is why we designed our new BA 1 model to include a prominent security camera that discourages this kind of activity. Below are best practices you can implement to further prevent shoplifting at your microstore.

  • Delivery staff should immediately remove a loose sticker if it is not attached to a product. This makes it easier to identify shoplifters and not cue others to remove stickers. You can identify which products correspond to detached stickers with these instructions.
  • Some operators make the smart sticker invisible by covering it with their own label.
  • In some instances, our FDA-approved smart stickers can be applied inside the packaging.
  • Consider posting signage reminding customers that theft will be prosecuted.
  • If you have the BA 1 model, use signage to draw attention to the security camera to remind customers they are on camera.

Addressing Shoplifting:

When shoplifting does occur, our platform makes it easy to find the culprit.

1. In your dashboard, click on the Transaction tab to see all transaction data.

2. Make sure the “Hide NIL Type” is switched off at the top of the screen. NIL transactions are those transactions where the fridge was unlocked but no purchase was made. This is your short list of suspects.

smart fridge dashboard snippet with NIL type toggle circled

3. Search for NIL transactions during the time you suspect the theft was committed. NIL transactions are indicated in the first column:

rows of data with type of transaction in first column

4. For those with a BA 1 model: When you have identified possible suspect NIL transactions, check your security camera footage during that time. If you see that, during the time of a NIL transaction, a customer opened the fridge and walked away with a product, they are likely the culprit.

5. Submit this footage along with the suspected customer and transaction data to law enforcement.

Preventing Employee Theft

Every manager strives to cultivate a culture of trust and honesty. However, decisions ultimately lie within the individual. Here are some practices you can adopt to encourage honesty in your team as they operate your FoodSpot fridge.

  • Educate your team on the visibility you have over the stocking activity of your microstore.
  • Periodically mention something you noticed on the security camera
  • Require your employee to text a photo of the fridge after stocking and a photo of any expired items every time they stock.

Addressing Employee Theft

If you notice missing items immediately after a stocking trip, an employee may be stocking unattached stickers into the fridge and keeping the product for themselves. To confirm this you can:

  1. View the stocking activity of your microstore during the time the item went missing.
  2. Compare this with transactions that have happened since that stocking by viewing transaction data.
  3. If the item was not bought by a customer in that period, and no NIL transactions indicated shoplifting, this was most likely an instance of employee theft.

No More Bad Apples

Putting these principles into practice takes, but it’s worth the effort. Every retail operation deals with bad apples, but these practices, coupled with our technology, will help you minimize the impact these bad apples have on your operation and maximize your ROI. If you have other creative ways to prevent retail shrinkage, we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to email us at support@launchfoodspot.com.

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