When product theft costs you double


A few days ago, I tried to buy a book from a major bookstore chain. Their website said it was “probably in stock”, so I went to the store to get it. I couldn’t find it on the shelf, so I asked a clerk for help. She checked around, and said that when the inventory system shows only one copy in stock, the last copy may have been stolen. Apparently, they have no way of reconciling their inventory to adjust for theft, at least not on a regular basis.

While reducing retail shrinkage is a goal shared by virtually every store, that’s not what this post is really about. Rather, I’d like to point out how the theft of a product or service can cost you not only the value of that item, but also a missed sale when the next customer comes to buy it — and finds there are none left. This can be generalized to intangible things like customer support resources, too. If you let abusive customers (or non-customers) take advantage of resources they aren’t paying for, chances are that your other customers are the ones that suffer.