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Smart safe systems help to neutralize losses by keeping financial assets protected and defended. The safes go much further than that, though. Here are a few of the other ways that they don't just save money, but reduce operations costs for business owners.
On the surface, smart safes look pedestrian, shaped and structured much like any other safe, with a passcode, and push-button accessibility architecture. But what makes it "smart" is its ability to seamlessly connect to the internet as well as any other systems that pertain to cash management, such as the point-of-sale or back-office infrastructure.
Online access enables retail staff to maintain visibility into the contents of the safe from wherever they are when properly integrated with a secure internet connection. Smart safes require a network connection to process the bill verification and overnight transfer of cash value stored in the smart safe to the retailer's accounts. It has been our experience that a dedicated managed cellular network provides access for remote management access for the company supporting the smart safe while securely connecting it to the clearing house to fund the overnight transaction.
This network also helps with cash authentication and validation. For instance, in the event a customer tries to pass off a $20, $50 or $100 bill as the real deal when it's actually counterfeit, a smart safe is capable of identifying authentic legal tender from what is fraudulent through built-in banknote validation sensors. This prevents counterfeit bills from infecting retailers' POS by rejecting them as soon as they're detected.
What is a cash recycler?
In a nutshell, a cash recycler is an automated system that makes the ongoing handling and management of paper currency simpler and more efficient. Typically leveraged by financial institutions — but also many cash-intensive industries, such as marijuana dispensaries and big-box retailers — cash recyclers perform a number of different functions, including accepting and dispensing bank notes, validating their authenticity, and storing cash for security purposes.
In many ways, cash recyclers are similar to smart safes, particularly from the perspective of storage and cash tracking. Where they diverge is in terms of their primary business purposes. For example, whereas cash recyclers are designed for front office operations, smart safes are meant for back-office activities. Additionally, smart safes set aside some of the cash that's stored for bank deposit needs. Cash recyclers typically don't do that.
How big of an issue is retail theft?
As previously noted, theft has never not been an issue for retailers, regardless of their specialty or segment. But it's become more prevalent in recent years, with a number of franchises forced to close select locations where it's been rampant. In the fiscal year 2016, for example, inventory shrink (meaning loss of inventory, which includes missing money) as a percentage of sales was 9% of retailers, according to a report conducted by the National Retail Federation. In 2020, shrinkage was 3% or higher for nearly 16%, based on the NRF's latest Retail Security Survey.
Retailers have also encountered a significant amount of employee theft. In 2019, the average amount of money that retailers lost for each incident of internal crime was more than $1,139, according to findings from the NRF. In the fiscal year 2020, it jumped to over $1,550. Additionally, half of the respondents averaged dollar losses of at least $1,000. That's up from approximately 28% a year earlier.
Smart safe systems help to neutralize shrink by keeping financial assets protected and defended. Smart safes go much further than that, though. Here are a few of the other ways that they don't just save money, but reduce operations costs for business owners in a variety of cash-intensive industries:
Streamlines routine financial activities
Business owners who sell cannabis-related products handle an incredible amount of cash in the average day largely. This is largely due to the fact that only a handful of financial institutions offer traditional banking services to them since marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. This means all of their transactions are carried out with dollar bills in virtually every denomination.
Thus, when the workday comes to an end, reconciliation-related exercises begin. Smart safe models help to boost the efficiency and speed of accounting and register balancing through advanced cash-handling components that accurately count and sort bills by denomination. Whoever is handling the reconciliation process can watch it all take place through high-definition LCD screens. This helps to speed things along and eliminates human error.
Reduces cash-in-transit needs
With cash still making up the lion's share of consumer transaction activity on a percentage basis — more than credit, debit card, or checks — retailers must have cash on hand, on an ongoing basis. But the constant coming and going of large sums of cash presents a security issue and a cost issue when pickup or drop-off involves an armored car and its accompanying services. Smart safes help to reduce cash-in-transits by reporting the cash deposits to a retailer's bank in real-time, made possible by internet-of-things technology. This allows retailers to hold on to their earnings and schedule for it to be picked up at a time that makes sense for all involved.
Unique, user-specific PIN codes
Communal combinations to which everyone is privy literally opens the door to internal theft. Instead, smart safes make cash management much more exclusive by giving unique PINs to each individual user. This way, only those who need to know get to know the contents of what's inside.
From increased security to real-time reporting to enhance visibility, smart safes are a must-have for retailers.
William is Vice President Strategic Initiatives for Ventus.