Smart Safes – They’re all about the ROI

For many retail organizations that conduct a measurable amount of business in cash, deciding to deploy a smart safe in their environment simply comes down to ROI.   Smart safes can represent a significant capital investment, so establishing a proven ROI is a typical prerequisite before any large-scale smart safe deployment can commence.

Traditionally, cash-in-transit providers have been the key catalysts to driving smart safe adoption into the market, as these providers have sold smart safes as part of their bundled offering.  The partnership between CIT providers and banks evolved into the offering of provisional credit, where a retailer can realize the benefits of the cash being in their safe, as if the cash were sitting in their bank. In this scenario, the funds in the safe are guaranteed by the CIT. The availability of daily credit greatly reduces the amount of cash float needed to run a retail business on a daily basis. This impact can be significant for stores operating on razor-thin margins.

In a previous article we discussed the numerous benefits a smart safe can provide a retailer. The smart safe ROI analysis is tied to several factors, but a key variable is the amount of cash a retailer handles.   Managing cash using traditional means can be costly, i.e., the more cash a retailer handles, the higher the expense, so deploying a smart safe in cash-heavy environment can lend itself to a more attractive ROI.


Retailers that sit lower on the Cash Spectrum

For retailers that handle smaller amounts of cash (less than $1,500 average per day), the ROI from a smart safe might seem less evident. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll classify these retailers as “Specialty Retailers” – those you will typically find in a shopping mall or retail strip center. These types of retailers typically cater to a specific demographic; hence their volume of business is smaller compared to larger retail stores that cater to a larger population.

Many specialty retailers elect to not retain the services of a CIT provider, as many of them are geographically located near their bank branch. Employees of these retailers typically walk their deposits to the bank at some point during their business day.  In this scenario, would a smart safe still be a viable solution for them?

It absolutely can. A smart safe that offers the right price/performance ratio can have a positive effect on a retailer’s cash management efforts and can help drive greater efficiencies. Let’s examine a few of these benefits.

Improved Cash Tracking and Accountability

With a smart safe, in order to deposit funds, each user must first log in with a unique user ID or PIN.   This ensures that all transactions are auditable, and governed – i.e., certain rights can be assigned per user ID. User authentication also helps retailers accelerate the reconciliation of end of shift and end of day balances to the store’s POS and to each employee.


Note Validation and Automation

Even for stores that handle smaller amounts of cash, the risk of being passed a counterfeit note remains. Once an employee accepts a counterfeit note, a retailer is liable for it and will be short the amount of that note.

Fortunately, smart safes come equipped with note validators that can automatically detect a counterfeit note. This eliminates the risk of unknowingly accepting a counterfeit note and puts the burden back onto the person trying to pass it.

Since the note validator is able to read a note automatically and deposit it into the safe, depositing a large amount of cash is fast and efficient. Notes can be stacked in any orientation and denominations can be mixed, enabling unprecedented expediency and accuracy in the recording of deposited notes.


Reporting and Reconciliation

For a specialty retailer not using a smart safe, reconciling cash at the end of a day can be a time-consuming and laborious task, one that is usually relegated to the store manager. In this scenario, the store manager must collect the cash, account for cash sales for each employee, subtract the amount they used to start their shift, and reconcile the balance against each employee’s cash sales for that day. This is a costly and inefficient process that is subject to errors.

By using a smart safe, this process is virtually automated. At the end of the day, the smart safe can generate a report itemizing all transactions that occurred throughout the day, and this report can be parsed on a per employee basis.   With this level of automation, ending a day and reconciling each employee’s till becomes a much faster and more accurate process.


In Closing

For the specialty retailer, smart safes provide numerous benefits even if the retailer isn’t handling a large amount of cash. Some of these benefits, such as improved cash tracking, automated note validation and deposit, and reporting and reconciliation all enable a strong ROI, making the smart safe adoption easier to justify.

Additional benefits, such as increased cash security, faster deposit preparation, and increase in overall employee productivity and safety, are additional factors that should be considered.

We’ll discuss these in further detail in the next article. Thank you for reading.