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Not all Smart Safes are Equal: 3 Things You Need to Know

Cash management is a growing concern for convenience stores and other retailers. Crime targeting retailers has risen in the past year, with cash-related crimes like internal and external theft also increasing. To make matters worse, bank branch closures have created longer drives to make cash deposits – putting owners and employees making those trips at even greater risk.

It is hardly surprising that switching to a smart safe or cash recycling program is becoming an increasingly attractive solution. But not all smart safe / cash recycling / cash management programs are equal. Here are three things every retailer should know before making their final decision on a retail cash management system:

Spend the Money for Multi-Note Acceptance

A single note acceptor may be less expensive upfront, but it will cost you more in the long run. Just imagine standing in front of the machine putting cash into your safe one note at a time!

Many retailers with single note acceptors still manually count, record, and report their cash like they're taking it to the bank. They then set aside time to run that cash into the machine one excruciating note after another.

It takes less than 8 seconds for someone to get bored while a webpage loads. How much attention are you or one of your employees paying while they load a stack of bills into that single note acceptor? You end up with the same hands-on cash handling and risks of human error and internal theft. It is a recipe for disaster. The only thing you’re saving is a trip to the bank.

You'll Be Keeping Your Regular Safe

By now everyone knows technology can break down. So, no matter what cash management solution you choose, you'll need to keep a day's cash for register funds in a safe in the back office as a backup. But you should be aware that with a smart safe, that money will be changed out daily. The safe is only for deposits and your managers will still need to do manual cash counting and reporting to pull register funds before making their daily deposits into the smart safe system.

Cash recyclers, on the other hand, let you insert all the bills from the register. Then you can pull out the register funds and additional change when it's needed – so the entirety of the daily cash transactions is accurately counted, recorded, and reported with minimal human interaction. That one-day worth of backup cash for registers doesn't get depleted and need daily replenishing. Even better, fewer management hours get wasted counting cash, reducing human error risk and enabling more accurate, timely reporting.

You WILL Be Charged for Next Day Deposits

Most smart safe and cash recycling programs let you put money into the safe and it magically appears in your account the next day. But that convenience comes at a cost - whether listed as "provisional credit" or not, there are fees attached to those next-day deposits that are tied to fluctuating interest rates.

A few years ago, when rates were low, these next-day deposit fees were minimal. But ever since the Fed started hiking interest rates, retailers have been steadily spending more than ever on those convenient next-day deposits - often without realizing it.

Fortunately, there are ways for retailers to reduce or potentially eliminate those charges. One of the most efficient ways is by recycling deposited cash out to consumers through multi-function financial kiosk / cash recycling systems (like Cash Depot’s BANK IN A BOX). This process lets store money fund the consumer-facing financial product transactions. And, as money is dispensed out to consumers, the funds are settled through the banking system for deposit into the store’s account next day – as a REAL deposit rather than a temporary credit for funds still sitting in the store.

There are many important considerations around retail cash management efficiency, cost savings, and safety. But, while smart safes and cash recyclers are a great solution to retail cash management woes, not all cash-handling solutions are equal. When considering what system is right for your store, doing your research upfront can pay dividends long-term.

TLDR: Retailers should think twice before choosing the “least expensive” smart safe solution for their stores. It could end up costing them more – or saving them less – than anticipated.