Several general principles may guide a grocery store's implementation of internal controls to provide reasonable assurance of the safekeeping of assets and the reliability of accounting records. These include establishment of responsibility; segregation of duties; physical, mechanical and electronic controls; and independent internal verification. Whichever internal controls a store chooses to use, the controls should operate within an overall framework of information and communication, monitoring, risk assessment and a control environment where managers influence and encourage integrity.
Internal controls may be classified according to their purpose and function. Preventive controls, such as requiring two signatures on checks over $1,000, can help avoid errors and irregularities from taking place. Grocery stores might implement loss prevention protocols such as mandating employee attendance at seminars on ethical behavior in the workplace.
Another type of internal control, detective controls alert businesses when irregularities occur. An obvious example of this is an airport metal detector. Depending on the type of grocery store, some stores may be large enough and carry a wide array of merchandise as to warrant the use of detection systems.
Corrective controls seek to punitively and remedially handle instances of an irregularity, whether it be in the form of anger management courses or discharging the offender from a position. In the latter case, the corrective control may also serve as a preventive control for other employees.
Large or small retail enterprises can have large amounts of sensitive accounting information stored on their computer systems; this should be subject to information processing controls. This might involve overhaul of significant portions of or the entire system, from the backing up of files and removal of software to installing anti-virus software.
Within certain software application packages themselves are controls that prohibit certain actions. For instance, in accounting packages such as QuickBooks or Peachtree, users are not allowed to make journal entries where debits and credits are not equal.
Timothea Xi has been writing business and finance articles since 2013. She has worked as an alternative investment adviser in Miami, specializing in managed futures. Xi has also worked as a stockbroker in New York City.