No area of interaction in a bricks-and-mortar retail environment is more critical than that between the store staff and the customer, usually at the point-of-sale (POS). But they are also the potential pinch points where conflict can occur, often over refund policies, age restrictions, or accusations of short-changing. Alternatively, what about when a dishonest customer uses a “sleight of hand” scam and, unbeknownst to the member of staff, offers up the wrong amount of cash for the transaction?
Once the money is placed into the register drawer, it cannot be rectified until counting up at the end of the day, which involves painstaking verification and all the potential brand inefficiency and potential damage that incurs.
Enter the world of the change manager and a new generation of intelligent cash drawers, ones that tell the cashier that there is an imbalance in the till, in real time, eliminating this potential conflict point so that neither the store nor the customer is out of pocket.
The latest evolution of this technology not only automatically reconciles bills but also weighs coins so that it knows if it is one penny, cent, or dime out, so corrections can be made immediately.
Tellermate, a global provider of cash management solutions, unveiled the latest evolution of its LiveDrawer® Manager at the 2018 National Retail Foundation (NRF) Big Show exhibition in New York. Complete with dashboard and analytical reporting capability, the intelligent cash register drawer has been in evolution for some time as a better means of cash management in busy stores.
LiveDrawer looks and feels like a conventional till, but that is where the similarities end. The idea is simple: the LiveDrawer Manager data, remotely monitored, helps retailers to identify problem stores, suspect transactions, and even individual cashiers with higher-than-average rates of loss. It offers speed and intelligence that can inform management decisions back to the business.
It provides real-time visibility of cash and flags mistakes—malicious or non-malicious—so that they can be instantly corrected. This means the temptation to steal is greatly reduced, as is the arduous task of cashing up at the end of trading, therefore significantly streamlining housekeeping processes.
The drawer comes in two versions—flip top or sliding drawer—and can be customized to suit individual business requirements. It integrates cups to hold, weigh and count both notes and coins, as well as reporting on coupons tendered for part payment.
The new technology has been piloted in the UK and Europe in recent months. One of Europe’s top retailers, which has 800 stores across six countries, was looking at ways of minimizing shrink and gaining better visibility of its cash processes while also maintaining headcount.
It had a desire to free up store manager time for sales activities because, according to the company’s own analysis, staff were spending between 31 and 76 minutes each day on time-consuming manual tasks, such as counting cash. The store’s loss prevention policies also meant that they had to painstakingly count and recount cash while a supervisor witnessed the entire procedure. Despite this process, tills still showed errors in terms of overs or cash shortages.
After discussions with Tellermate, the technology was introduced as an “eight lane” pilot program in one of the retailer’s busiest stores where each lane received an intelligent cash drawer and POS safe that holds tamper-proof cash bags at the point of sale.
This resulted in a 67 percent reduction—a-two-thirds cut—in the time spent counting and managing cash. Manual tasks such as start-of-shift, end-of-shift, and end-of-day counts were completely eliminated because of the visibility and accuracy of the data reporting fed back from LiveDrawer in real time.
Large notes were automatically checked for counterfeit, counted, and safely stored in the POS safe, which meant that till skimming during busy shifts was eliminated. When cash errors occurred, the cash register drawer immediately recognized it and flagged the issues providing the cashier with the opportunity to rectify the error or provide the supervisors with the hard evidence that they required to carry out an investigation.
The trial proved a success, and the electronics company reported savings of thirty minutes per day per drawer. This equated to four hours across the eight aisles, which is time that could be given back to store staff in other areas including better customer service.
In addition, while efficiencies improved, labor costs were also reduced. Managers were in the strong position of being able to pinpoint exact amounts of cash in each drawer at any time from anywhere.
There was a positive impact upon checkout times and staff morale because of faster throughput as lanes could be opened or closed to accommodate footfall, without the need for cash counting. Banking preparation was also greatly simplified.
The retailer provided a testimonial that read, “By reducing the time spent each day counting cash, LiveDrawer enabled us to eliminate redundant manual processes, which led to significant company-wide savings and more face-to-face time with customers. The technology was welcomed by store staff, and morale has increased as a result.”
Operationally, this kind of technology gives back more in terms of operational efficiency by optimizing change ordering and cash in transit (CIT) scheduling so that there are no wasted journeys or stockpiled cash left at the retail unit.
It also touches on broader, positive streamlining functions beyond loss prevention, including IT, HR, and finance. For LP, it reduces the time of investigations because the technology provides the evidence pack for the asset protection team and any subsequent tribunal.
It has three different stakeholders—IT, operations, and LP—but a major part of its appeal is to do with loss prevention because it stops all losses from the till drawer.
Declan Kelly, Tellermate technology director (shown in feature image), said the popularity of the technology will gather momentum because of such increasing costs and the ever-changing structures of business.
“It used to be that we would be dealing with heads of LP, operations, or procurement, but increasingly we are answerable to change managers who are looking two or three years down the line to where savings and efficiencies need to be made.
“These guys are constantly looking for where the next 20 percent of savings are coming from, both at the front of store as well as the back office. LiveDrawer falls into that innovative category because there are still many companies out there that are having to wait till the end of the month to reconcile figures. They will have to go back through the entire audit trail to see what is happening.
“LiveDrawer, on the other hand, creates time savings and instant reconciliation, as well as the ability to correct errors in real time, but it also carries a strong preventative message to dishonest staff—that they will be caught. For the majority of staff who are honest, they are instantly exonerated because the finger of suspicion is never pointed their way.”
He said that in the convenience sector, where the UK trial of LiveDrawer took place, the technology is helping to drive compliance. “In this sector there is a low percentage of permanent staff and a higher percentage of temporary and part-time personnel. The technology helps to keep them on the straight and narrow by constantly informing them that they are doing the right thing. In this respect, there is another saving to the business in helping to manage and reduce staff churn.”
Kelly added, “Training is straightforward for both managers and staff. Back-office managers can also see how much is in each till and which ones are running low or when they need to collect. When they do, they are comforted by the fact that they know all the cash is where it is supposed to be.”
Many businesses are currently going through the change as they reshape their operations to cope with competitive and regulatory demands, but now many are making “change” their focus of business, literally. Saving pennies and cents can make a major difference to the bottom line, but it can also improve efficiency, improve staff morale, and create better customer relations—all factors that add up and count.
This post was originally published in LP Magazine Europe in 2018 and was updated January 9, 2019.