Does your business handle cash? If it does, there’s good news. Cash is still king. And it’s likely to remain that way for decades—despite the buzz about digital payments. So you shouldn’t have to make sweeping changes in how customers pay you any time in the near future.
Why will cash remain king? It’s simple. Consumers prefer using it instead of other payment methods in many situations, such as quick purchases and low dollar amount transactions. At a global level, cash payments represent 85 percent of all consumer transactions.
Time-Consuming and Expensive
But for businesses, managing cash can be time-consuming and expensive. It can also be risky. Anytime people handle money, you risk losing some of it by theft or human error.
If you’re a small business operating with razor-thin margins, you can’t afford to lose money if you want to survive. Fortunately, there’s a new tool to help you deter theft and beat cash’s inherent challenges: smart safes.
“Today’s retailers are realizing more and more that traditional cash handling methods, such as till sweeps and drop safes, are largely inefficient,” says David Barclay, who heads marketing for Tidel, a leading provider of cash management solutions.
“Smart safes enable businesses—both small and large—to offer advanced features that drive efficiencies and boost security,” adds Barclay.
Overcoming Cash’s Challenges
Smart safes accept, validate, record, and store notes securely behind a vault door. In addition to boosting security, they reduce shrink, cut overhead, increase operating efficiencies, and improve customer service.
But to benefit from them, you have to find one that fits your needs. Below are seven key features you should consider in a smart safe:
- Note validation — This feature lets cashiers deposit notes into the safe, which then records, tracks, and automatically checks for counterfeit notes. Having a safe with note validation boosts productivity especially during busy times, like the holidays or at drive time, when more customers are in the store.
- Cash tracking/accountability — Smart safes require users to log in before any transaction takes place. This feature ensures that all transactions are auditable and key features governed. It also speeds end-of-shift and end-of-day close-outs, the balancing of discrepancies, and the preparation of deposits while providing businesses with a better understanding of cash usage patterns.
- Reporting capabilities — Many smart safes can produce a wide variety of management reports essential to operating a business efficiently and effectively. These reports allow business managers and departments, such as loss prevention and treasury, to adapt a smart safe to their needs.
- Connectivity — Make sure your smart safe can connect to your store’s network, either via Ethernet or cellular communications, a central dashboard at a store’s headquarter office, or a store’s cash-in-transit provider, such as Loomis or Brinks. When combined with reporting capabilities, smart safe connectivity helps you close the cash management loop.
- Security — You need to consider both data and physical security with smart safes. You should evaluate the safe’s physical security on sound design and construction characteristics. Also, you’ll want to ensure the software on the smart safe is programmed in such a way that third parties cannot illicitly hack into your system and manipulate cash totals, adjust settings, or gain unauthorized access to the vault.
- Maintenance — Some smart safes will require preventive maintenance to extend the useful life of the system. Key features to consider when it comes to upkeep are the safe’s bill validator and its user interface. You also need to consider the repair network available when your safe requires service. Put simply, you want a safe that’s easy and cost-effective to service when necessary.
- Capacity — Businesses with limited daily cash demands can easily get by with a smart safe that has a capacity of 1000 notes. Businesses with greater cash demands, however, may need a safe that offers up to two 1,200 or 2,500 note cassettes. Also, if you need both secure cash deposit and safe storage of rolled coin for the store’s change fund, consider a rolled coin dispensing system along with the smart safe.
Many smart safes offer accessories that complement the system. Accessories to consider are extra note cassettes, validator cleaning cards, a card reader, electronic locks, and a printer envelope for manual drops. A side safe to store extra rolled coins, accounting books, and other key store components, such as till drawers, is also a consideration.
“Managing cash effectively is as critical for today’s small businesses as it is for large organizations, like big box retailers,” says Barclay. “In fact, it may be even more critical because small businesses have less of a margin for safety than large ones. So smart safes with the right accessories can make a huge difference.”
If you have a small business that handles a lot of cash, smart safes can help you beat the challenges that come with managing it efficiently and effectively. Keeping the features we discussed above in mind when choosing a smart safe solution will help you select one that fits your needs and increases your profitability.