A Berkshire based software company specialising in technology that helps the retail industry prevent internal theft and fraud, has its sights set on global expansion with assistance from the Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator.
Vigilant Applications, based in Theale, has developed technology that enables retailers to better understand the actions of its employees by linking to existing in-store systems and providing a co-ordinated view of till transactions and staff behaviour.
Shrinkage, the industry term for losses experienced by a retailer between manufacture or wholesale purchase and point of sale, has several causes with customer theft – or shoplifting – coming to mind as the most obvious. However, the internal threats of employee fraud and unintentional errors by staff pose a similar level of risk.
Mike Williams, Director at Vigilant Applications says: “Although the increased use of automated systems in retail helps employers to keep a better record of transactions, there are still many ways – both intentional and accidental – that staff activity contributes to loss of profits. Whether it is through abuse of promotions or discount codes, processing fraudulent refund transactions or simply making mistakes at the till, employees remain a major cause of shrinkage cost to retailers globally.”
According to the 2011 Global Retail Theft Barometer, employee theft and internal error cost the worldwide retail industry over $61 billion of the total $119 billion lost to shrinkage that year, and this figure continues to rise.
Mike continues: “The sophisticated nature of our software, VigilancePro Retail, means that employers can monitor electronic point of sale (EPoS) activity in real time, whilst integrating this with other in-store systems including CCTV. This allows unusual transactions or those more likely to pose a shrinkage risk to be identified as they occur and automatically synced with relevant security footage, enabling the employer to identify occurrences of fraud as well as highlighting training requirements made obvious through errors made by staff.”
Following initial deployment of the VigilancePro software with a growing UK based quick service restaurant operator, the team at Vigilant Applications rapidly became aware of its suitability for this market and soon entered into discussions and subsequent trials with one of the world’s leading fast food restaurant chains. As such, the company is now looking towards significant expansion throughout the UK, Europe and the U.S.
In order to enable this growth Vigilant Applications has been successful in obtaining a £200,000 loan from the Thames Valley Berkshire Expansion Loan Scheme, which is managed by The FSE Group as part of the Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator. The loan forms part of a larger funding round secured by the company to further the sales and marketing strategy and increase staffing with the creation of several new jobs at its base in Theale.
Ian Baker, Senior Fund Manager at The FSE Group comments: “Vigilant Applications are in prime position to take advantage of a potentially global opportunity and we are excited to be supporting them. The funding escalator is all about helping Berkshire businesses to maximise prospects, bringing jobs and further prosperity to the area.”
Funded by Thames Valley Berkshire LEP in response to the difficulties business face in obtaining funding, the funding escalator provides finance to SMEs through a series of repayable loans across three complementary but distinct loan schemes: business expansion, commercialisation and growth.
Providing loans between £25,000 and £200,000 to eligible businesses following a robust due diligence process, where serviceability can be demonstrated and there are prospects of job creation, the scheme is able to consider deals that may not fit conventional bank lending criteria.