Many retailers face the same challenges when it comes to managing cash. Expensive staff time is spent processing cash and correcting errors, only for the cash to be stored on-site before it can be deposited in a bank account, hindering the opportunity for it to be used elsewhere. Not only are these processes costly and inefficient – cash left on the premises leaves retailers vulnerable to theft. In an era of low interest rates cash collections have been optimised so that cash is on site for longer than ever. In some cases the time from the customer’s pocket to processing into bank can be up to 10 days meaning a serious effect on working capital.
Traditional methods of handling cash, such as employees manually counting and depositing takings at the bank or using armoured vehicles to collect the cash, do not address the expensive and risky challenges outlined above. However, there are new trends in cash handling solutions being deployed by banks to their retail customers which can significantly improve the efficiency and security of the retail cash chain. The major US bank Fifth Third has been supplying their retail customers with such solutions and expects to see the demand for the technology to continue growing.
Widely known as smart safes, the latest solutions allow retailers to automate the process of cashing up the store both notes and coins. Because they’re connected directly to the bank, cash stored within them is treated as if it had been deposited directly in a branch or via a cash-in-transit company delivering what is widely known as same-day or provisional credit.
Global industry analyst firm Planet Retail has recently estimated that 70% of retailers’ cash handling costs are related to employee time. Smart safes speed up the authentication and reconciliation of cash, reduce cash shrinkage, automatically detect counterfeits, minimise cash-handling errors and release staff time to be reallocated to customer service and generating sales.
Despite the increasing adoption of card and mobile payment methods, cash will continue to feature strongly in consumer payment choices for many years to come. It will be interesting to see which retailer will be the first to announce they no longer accept cash and when that will be.
Smart retailers around the world are beginning to treat cash with the same supply chain thinking as any other commodity in their business. They’re looking to increase velocity through their business and minimize held inventory. With traditional cash handling posing more challenges than solutions, new technologies such as smart safes are key to optimising the retail cash chain.
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