Good day and thank you for reading. This is Part three of a three-part series covering smart safes and the specialty retailer. As a quick recap, in the previous articles we classified specialty retailers as those that cater to a particular demographic and typically handle lower volumes of cash – up to $1,500 per day – on average.

In Part1 and Part 2 of this series, we discussed several benefits that a smart safe offers a specialty retailer, including greater cash security, improved employee productivity, expedited deposit preparation, improved employee safety, and many others.

In this article, we will discuss the features that a specialty retailer should look for in a smart safe in order to realize these benefits.

 

Important Factors to Consider

In a previous article we outlined the key features of a smart safe. We won’t deep-dive into these again in this article. However, as it pertains to a specialty retailer, we will address specific features of a smart safe that should be considered before making a purchase. Consistent with Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we will assume the specialty retailer is not using a cash-in-transit (CIT) service to transport their deposits to the bank.

 

Simplicity

In a busy retail environment, technology is sometimes viewed as either a nuisance or something to be feared. Store employees rarely have time to navigate through a complicated device – real or perceived – when there is a line of impatient customers standing in front of them. This is why technology for a retail store, such as a smart safe, needs to be designed with absolute ease of use and simplicity as a table stake. Ease of use can emanate from several facets, including the size and placement of the user console, touchscreen functionality, accessibility to key components such as the note validator and printer, and other factors.   The end user experience is critical when designing technology, and smart safes are no different.

 

Authentication

Smart safes must have a way to authenticate user access so that each transaction can be audited to the individual user. User PINs should be changed on a periodic basis, and auto reminders should be a part of the software solution to enforce this policy. In addition, the user console should be simple enough to be able to assign and modify individual user rights, on a real-time basis.   Multi-user authentication should also be available, both in hardware and software formats, particularly to govern access to the note cassette vault.

 

Serviceability

A busy retailer cannot afford a critical component of its store security and cash management infrastructure to be down for a period of time, waiting on a service technician to come out and fix an issue. The most common service requests for smart safes pertain to note jams in the bill validator, which are often caused by torn or faulty notes.   In this case, self-service becomes critical.   A smart safe built with serviceability in mind will be designed in such a way that the note validator can be easily removed to clear a note jam, by an authorized store employee, without providing access to the safe funds. In addition, other components such as the power supply and system board should be easily accessible by a service technician in the event these components need to be replaced. This saves valuable time and minimizes service costs. A smart safe designed with serviceability in mind will help maximize system uptime and minimize store disruptions.

 

Fit and Finish

Successful retail organizations go to great lengths to ensure their stores are designed, laid out, and outfitted properly to attract and retain customers.   Since a smart safe is a component of a store environment, it should be designed in such a way that it can seamlessly integrate into a store and not be perceived as a detriment to a store’s appearance. Some questions to consider:

  1. Does it fit easily under my counter?
  2. Can my employees access the console without stooping?
  3. With heavy foot traffic, will the smart safe be an impedance?
  4. Is the angle of the console easy to operate while standing?
  5. Is the touchscreen responsive?
  6. Are all the components integrated? Or are there attached components, such as a printer, that might get knocked around over time?
  7. Is it designed with minimal cables?
  8. Is it coated in such a way to prevent rust?

For a smart safe to integrate into a store environment and become a critical component of its infrastructure, fit and finish simply cannot be overlooked.

 

Connectivity

For stores with multiple locations, connectivity to the safe is an essential function needed to leverage the safe to its fullest capabilities. Connectivity can be made to the store’s network, and to a central console/dashboard at the store’s headquarters, and to the store’s bank.   In effect, the smart safe can be viewed as a node on the store’s network.   When evaluating a smart safe for a retail location, the system should provide Ethernet connectivity as a standard feature and cellular connectivity as an optional feature.

 

In Closing

For the specialty retailer, smart safes provide numerous benefits, even if the retailer isn’t handling a large amount of cash or using the cash-in-transit services of an armored carrier. Throughout this series, we have outlined several of these benefits and concluded with specific features that retail decision makers should consider when evaluating a smart safe brand.

To repeat what was stated in Part 1 of this Series, adopting a smart safe really comes down to the ROI.   With a smart safe, what can be realized in terms of greater efficiencies, reduced risk, greater accountability, improved security, and liberation in store manager time? And how do these variables stack up against the acquisition cost of the smart safe?

These are questions a decision maker representing a specialty retailer needs to consider. Finding the smart safe that is in tune with the requirements important to a specialty retailer, with the right price/performance ratio, becomes the next task.

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