Has media focus on the “decline” of cash driven a complacency about loss prevention strategies around cash? A recent article in Loss Prevention Magazine asks whether cash security has fallen so far off the boardroom agenda that businesses are failing to cash in on the available cash handling technology?
The use of credit and debit cards for payments, and new payment vehicles like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Wallet continues to rise, but do these well-documented trends tell us the full picture?
A November 2016 study from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco shows that, although cash has a declining share of total payments, it continues to be the most frequently used consumer payment instrument. And for small value transactions, in particular, cash remains king.
What does this mean for loss prevention managers? If you are operating in a business characterized by frequent low-value transactions, cash security and control is likely to remain an issue for the foreseeable future.
Plenty of time for an investment in better cash handling technology to deliver ROI – as well as major benefits in loss prevention, and employee satisfaction.
So why are so many businesses failing to cash in on the automated cash handling technology solutions available?
A 2017 survey by the ATM Industry Association, Retail Cash Management, found that some 36% of the US retail sector could benefit from investing in new cash handling technology. Yet they didn’t have anything in place.
Gary Smith LPC, Senior Director for Asset Protection at Walmart, told Loss Prevention Magazine that cash management “is still an important piece that loss prevention and asset protection should be looking at. It’s still an area where you can make a quantifiable difference in the expense piece.”
Automating cash management tasks, such as cash counting helps to streamline processes, and this solves several business problems:
Although having a clear oversight of current cash handling activities and their associated costs might not be a core part of the loss prevention role, understanding the costs involved is an important part of the overall business profitability story.
As well as improving accuracy and reducing the opportunity for employee theft, automating cash counting and handling delivers big time savings for staff.
Tony Lawson, Director of Asset Protection for Goodwill of Southeast Wisconsin, estimates that his organization is saving two to four hours per day by switching from counting all cash by hand to the use of a Tellermate intelligent cash counting machine.
The advantages which come from these time savings will very much depend on your business model. Even where there is no opportunity to reduce headcount directly, time savings do represent significant ROI for the business.
Conducting a pilot study is the best way to assess the time savings and subsequent ROI that could be achieved from faster cash handling.
The Loss Prevention Magazine article stresses that the risks, resources, cash intake and a host of other factors must be considered when thinking about investing in such a cash handling solution.
Mike Keenan, CPP, CFI, LPC, an industry veteran makes the point that there isn’t always one “right” answer: “Different retailers will need different solutions,” he told Loss Prevention Magazine.
Cash counters, for example, can reduce the time it takes to reconcile a cash drawer to under a minute – and significantly reduces errors. A cash recycling machine can also help to reduce bank charges, and make it easier to track the reconciliation process. Smart safe technology adds a further layer of benefits by enhancing cash security.
Identifying where costs could be cut and speaking with key stakeholders across the business, will help to identify which solution will be best for each situation.
Before investing in cash handling technology, quick service restaurant Panda Express undertook a detailed analysis, as the chain’s Director of Audit explains: “We did a time study and found that it took an average of 10 – 15 minutes for each cashier to manually count their drawer at the end of a shift. With the Tellermate machine, we save about 8 – 12 minutes per cashier plus there are far fewer errors, making it critical for both labor savings and accuracy.”
With more than 1,600 restaurants across the group, these efficiencies add up to a significant labor saving.
While these labor savings for the cashiers and managers have resulted in direct cost savings for the company, Panda Express also credits the cash handling technology with enhancing its security and cash controls.
One major problem the cash management technology has directly addressed is the tendency of staff to leave cash drawers uncounted at the end of a shift because end-of-shift cashing up was taking so long – a situation that was causing significant management frustration.
For fast-growing businesses, especially those with high volumes of low value transactions, investing in cash-handling technology is a no-brainer.
UK health and beauty retailer Superdrug has seen a dramatic improvement to efficiency. Its Audit Manager reports that, since implementing cash handling technology solutions: “There is a notable improvement to store processes and the reduction in the time spent counting cash manually. Plus, there is a notable reduction in the amount of time that our managers spend in their cash offices.”
While repeated time savings are easy to give an ROI figure to, automated cash handling solutions also deliver savings that are less easy to quantify.
Superdrug credits its cash handling technology solutions with helping to combat in-store shrinkage. And the portable cash counters have also enabled spot audits to be carried out quickly at the point of sale should a discrepancy arise protecting both customers and cashiers from change disputes.
Similarly, fashion retailer Schuh has found that using cash handling technology solutions has helped to create a better working environment for staff. It uses the technology to carry out spot audits, prepare floats and reconcile cash across its UK stores. This has delivered cash management efficiencies and improved accuracy for the business.
However, it has also had a more important – and unexpected – impact, as Josh Puck, an Assistant Manager at Schuh, explains: “Staff are reassured that their float will be accurate when they are banking their own till and there is less stress.”
It is hoped that this reduction in stress will contribute to improved staff retention; delivering additional cost savings and loss prevention benefits for the business.
Automating cash management can have a positive impact in terms of efficiency, loss prevention, customer service and staff morale.
While the Loss Prevention magazine article does highlight the need to understand the options and how they map to your own retail operations, it does point to a whole raft of benefits that are still being underexploited by retailers.
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