CSP Exclusive Study: Hard to Handle

Effectively controlling cash top concern for retailers in study

Erik J. Martin, CSP Correspondent

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To fight counterfeiting, Kayal recommends multiple procedures, including limiting the amount of cash in the till and ensuring locations are properly under camera. He also recommends “deploying counterfeit technology and having a policy on the bill denominations you need to check.”

External Theft

Burglaries and robberies are always a fear among convenience-store operators, but this issue has dropped from No. 3 to No. 5 on the list of most serious cash handling/management concerns over the past year.

This, Kayal says, is because “individual owners and operators have started to deploy policies and procedures in their own shops that have helped deter robberies and burglaries, coupled with new safe technology solutions.”

Improvements in safe durability and integrity may also have something to do with decreased concern over robberies and burglaries, Rhoads says. “The physical nature of the equipment is getting better, plus the actual number of retail break-ins reported appears to be on a downward trend. Remember, too, that burglaries and robberies cyclically follow the economy, which is in recovery right now,” he says.

Also, video surveillance equipment has come down significantly in price over the past five years, says Lindblom.

Growing Gap

Single-store operators are logically going to have different challenges and concerns than those with multiple stores. Hence, it’s not shocking to observe wide disparities in survey responses from the latter compared to the former. The cash-handling issues with the largest percentage-point spreads in terms of being considered serious by single-store and multi-store operators are inability to track cash flow between point of sale (POS) and the safe (26% of one-store operators vs. 12% of operators of two or more stores—a 14-percentage-point spread); bank-deposit discrepancies (18% vs. 30%); and lack of information for cash forecasting (22% vs. 10%).

Cash-Management Devices, Tools, Processes  
(Respondents who currently have in place)  
Low cash in registers 86%
Secure business rated safe 80%
Drop safes: manual 75%
Separate coin/bill storage and access 53%
Remote visibility/monitoring of cash positions 52%
Remote visibility/monitoring of safe activity 52%
Time delays: time lockouts 52%
Safe and POS integrated with video surveillance 47%
Detailed transaction reporting of deposits,
drops, door openings and pickups
Central repository of cash handling information 32%
Automated alerts – door open, safe withdrawals 27%
Consolidated cash reporting across multiple locations 25%
Smart safes: automated bill acceptors 22%
Provisional credit – recognize cash in safe as deposit 21%
POS integrated with safes 16%
Automated coin ordering 7%
Source: CSP/Corporate Safe Specialists/FireKing Security Group 2014 cash management study  

Kayal says multi-unit operations typically do a better job of recognizing the need for efficiency in their processes and are quicker to adopt the latest cash-management technologies, which helps explain why operators with more than one store ranked inability to track cash flow and lack of info for forecasting as less serious.

“The capital required to deploy these solutions is more available to multi-store operators than those with one store,” Kayal says.

Multi-unit operations also generally have a greater ability to monitor and measure cash than stand-alone stores because the former have a distinct division of labor, Rhoads says. “They have it down to a system and a support structure involving employees with assigned jobs, such as counting the money,” he says. “Many multi-store companies have systems in place to help them in these efforts. If there’s a bank discrepancy, for instance, they have more leverage to fight the issue with the bank because they can afford to, whereas a single-store operator may have to take the bank’s word for it because they don’t have much leverage.”

Studying the Playbook

Survey respondents continue to turn to the same tried-and-true cash-management devices, tools and processes to handle and manage cash, including—in order—low cash in registers, secure business-rated safes, manual drop safes, separate coin/bill storage and access, and remote visibility and/or monitoring of safe activity.

Rhoads says he is encouraged by the survey finding that 52% have remote visibility/ monitoring of safe activity in place vs. 42% last year, as is Kayal.

“The fact that you see a year-over-year uptick in usage of remote visibility/monitoring of safe activity is a good sign because it means retailers are recognizing the value in understanding whether or not a safe is active and online and available to process a transaction,” Kayal says. “This knowledge reduces the risk of cash straying outside of its predetermined path and reduces the opportunity for shrinkage.”

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