November 3, 2016

Smart safes | 7 things to consider

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There’s been a lot of conversation recently around smart safes, a tool for securing funds in a variety of retail verticals. Are they the right choice for your business? The answer lies in how you plan to use them.

The Federal Reserve wrote about the capability of these devices to accept and authenticate currency but noted that for a bigger impact they must be integrated to the POS or other systems. With integration, the Fed says, their data can be aggregated and reported to corporate, facilitating better management of your cash position.

As you consider these devices for your stores, it’s important to think about how they would fit into your complete currency management strategy. What are your goals? Many retailers who consider smart safes or recyclers – a specific type of smart safe that both accepts and dispenses cash for reuse in stores – are trying to reduce shrink or transportation costs. Consider these points before you move forward:

  1. Is it integrated with the POS?  Most smart safes are not integrated with the POS, meaning that there is still hefty data entry into the POS and any corporate systems. Every till balance, pickup or loan must be recorded in the POS, costing your staff time and creating potential for errors and fraud. 

  2. Will it reduce shrink? To prevent shrink, loss prevention teams must have visibility of transactions to and from the smart safe and the ability to compare it to expected amounts from the POS. With most safes, this is achieved through manual entry to the POS by store personnel. LP must then sift through the POS reports looking for exceptions and trends, leading to delays in finding and stopping shrink. Timely accountability is difficult without robust POS integration. 

  3. What are your cash sales and demand? Understanding the volume of cash in and out of your stores each day by denomination is key to determining if you need a smart safe, a recycling safe – or maybe neither. In some cases, an extra pickup each week by your armored car service is less costly than implementing a device. Know what will best suit the needs of your stores based on cash sales, cash demand, deposits and change orders.

  4. How much cash handling will there be? You might be dreaming of a “touchless” or “dark” cash office when you consider smart safes, but there are still plenty of cash touches involved in using these devices. Rather than centralizing the task of counting and rebuilding registers with one trusted, experienced person, you’re involving every cashier in your store in the process of dispensing and inserting funds, ultimately taking time from customer service and exposing your cash to risk. Don’t forget about accounting for any non-cash items your stores might sell at the register – smart safes can’t accept and secure those.

  5. What other devices do your stores use? The rest of your infrastructure plays an important role in your decision as well. If your stores have other devices that accept cash, like self-checkouts, how will you account for the cash in those devices? If these require a separate process, are you saving time and money by investing in smart safes or recyclers?

  6. What kind of reporting will you see at corporate? With any technology you implement at your stores, you’ve come to expect an element of corporate reporting. How will the smart safe you’re considering provide you with a view of each of your stores and your enterprise overall? Will you be able to quickly assess your cash position company-wide?

  7. What’s the availability rate? Investigate the uptime for each safe you consider. If the safe is unavailable because of a mechanical or connectivity failure, what service can you expect? What will it take to resolve those issues? And what will you do in the meantime?

Smart safes are great security tools, but they are just that – tools. If you implement these devices, you would be wise to make them part of a comprehensive currency management platform.

An electronic-safe management solution lets you monitor safe levels and activity by denomination across your entire organization, helping you prevent shrink, better manage and deploy your cash assets and streamline operations. As you consider implementing smart safes or recyclers, make sure you look at the entire currency management picture to ensure you make the best choice for your stores.

 

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Image: iStock