What makes a smart safe so smart?

Lawson DavisRetail is getting smarter. Between self-service checkouts, intelligent cash drawers and even smart safes – clever retail technology is now helping businesses drive efficiencies from the point of sale (POS), right the way through to the back office. Smart safes in particular are seeing a surge in adoption rates as businesses turn to these “smart” devices to help them safely secure and manage their cash.

So, what is a smart safe, and what makes it so smart? A smart safe is a secure device that automatically accepts, validates, records and stores cash. Its “smartness” is its ability to connect to the internet, the POS, other cash management technology and back-office systems. This allows the safe to provide real-time visibility of its contents and an audit trail of each transaction…down to the exact operator. Smart safes have gained popularity among retailers in recent years because they:

  • What makes a smart safe so smart?Protect cash. Smart safes store cash, whether at the POS or in the back office. Once inserted into the safe, cash is secured in either a tamper-proof bag or cassette.
  • Contain built-in note validators. Although employees handling your business’s takings should be trained to spot counterfeit cash, smart safes detect and reject fake notes at the POS – giving you an extra layer of security.
  • Offer provisional credit. Many of today’s smart safes partner with financial institutions to ensure that when money goes into the safe, you are credited before it reaches the bank – but there are some caveats with this – read our smart safes guide to find out more.
  • Retrievable by cash in transit (CIT) staff only.* Smart safes are intended to reduce theft by outsiders and insiders alike. When a CIT messenger arrives to collect cash, the safe often requires two sets of credentials to open. This is usually the driver’s and the store manager’s.
  • Slash CIT fees. Since a smart safe generates and monitors data – such as the denominations and amounts of cash inside – you know when cash needs to be collected. Optimizing armored car pickups and deliveries helps you avoid unnecessary trips and the costs associated with them. For instance, change orders can be added directly to the safe as part of your regularly scheduled CIT delivery deposit – eliminating the need for one more trip and one more charge.
  • Can be integrated with other cash management technology to provide an end-to-end solution. Together with an intelligent cash drawer, you get a smart safe-cash management system that is almost closed-loop. More on this later…

Often, a business will just have one smart safe, either in the back office or near the POS – and all cashiers and managers who handle money will share it. Sometimes businesses buy one and other times, they rent one from their CIT carrier.

Factors to consider when shopping for a smart safe

Smart safes are a smart investment – for sure. Several sizes, brands and price points are available, and features vary as well. If your business is considering investing in smart safe technology, think about your needs and how you intend to use it. Considerations should include:

  • Physical placement. POS smart safes could be bolted to the floor near registers, installed into existing checkout furniture or even free standing; while back-office safes come in a variety of sizes to fit the space you have available. Make sure the one you choose works with your current setup.
  • CIT fees. Although mentioned earlier, it’s worth pointing out again. Greater visibility of your cash means you might be able to reduce the number of times your armored car provider delivers and drops off cash. Less CIT visits = more savings.
  • Ease of use. Will your smart safe security provider give your employees the training they need to use it? If not, your smart safe could become a bulky, expensive metal box that’s deemed too difficult to use.
  • Serviceability. If leasing a smart safe from your CIT provider, service should part of the agreement. But how quickly will a service technician arrive if and when the device isn’t working properly? Some smart safes come with a removable note validator so quick fixes – such as a jammed note – can be cleared by an authorized employee. For bigger repairs, make sure you have a clear understanding of how much repairs will cost, the service level agreements offered by your providers or if the device comes with a warranty.
  • Connectivity. Make sure integration between your internal network and your smart safe isn’t too expensive or complicated. And confirm whether data transmission from the safe to your network is secure.

Remember that despite all of its benefits, a smart safe can only count the cash stored within it. Therefore, it can’t track cash before or after it’s safely within the device – leaving room for cash shrink and other forms of loss.

End-to-end cash-management solutions

Together with an intelligent cash drawer, also known as LiveDrawer, smart safe technology provides an improved, end-to-end cash-management system. An intelligent cash drawer automatically counts and tracks the coins and bills held in a drawer and like a smart safe, provides a detailed audit trail, which obviously helps with your loss prevention measures. In fact, the mere presence of LiveDrawer deters employee theft.

Since a combination of the two gives insight into all cash drawer and safe contents, daily cash-handling duties such as float counts and spot checks are redundant. Tedious manual tasks are automated and cash is more secure. By limiting the amount of times cash is touched, cashier errors and fraudulent activities – such as internal and external theft – are reduced significantly.

In this way, a LiveDrawer and smart safe combination can generate an almost-closed-loop system that’s similar to that of a cash recycler. At a much lower cost.

Additionally, the LiveDrawer and smart safe partnership allows you to safely secure excess notes in the safe while drawers operate with a small, variable float. The bills in the smart safe are counted and sealed automatically – ready for CIT collection. The cash management process is more streamlined. It’s secure. It reduces shrink. And it saves valuable time. Meaning it saves money.

Are smart safes right for you?

Finding the right cash management solutions can be tough, but a combination of technologies can help with loss prevention and time savings as well. Not to mention various other benefits. And when united with LiveDrawer technology, your new smart safe security system can certainly help your business thrive and survive in the shifting retail landscape of today – and in the future as well.

Plus, when a smart safe is used in partnership with an intelligent cash drawer, a full-circle solution is created, generating efficiencies and minimizing the risk of cash loss at each and every stage of the cash management process.

If you’re still wondering if smart safes are all they’re cracked up to be, we’d love to help. Download our guide to the pros and cons: Smart Safes – Are they right for my business?

*Most smart safes have measures preventing employees from touching cash within the safe – reducing cash theft. Check with your smart safe provider to ensure this is the case as features of different smart safes vary.

Smart Safe Guide

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