Delivering Speed, Efficiencies And Colleague Safety With Co-op's SmartCash Solution

01 September 2021

The Co-op Food Group is known for putting its people and customers first and foremost. As a result, the organisation continues to seek solutions that improve efficiency to ensure they are delivering excellent customer service. With the grocery retail sector spending millions on time-intensive cash handling solutions, Co-op Food Group wanted to ensure their processes were as efficient and cost-effective as possible to support their colleagues and customers. As a result, Co-op Food Group partnered with Volumatic for a solution to increase its cash handling efficiency.

Working together with Volumatic, Co-op has developed their new SmartCash solution, which has now been rolled out across all stores, making a significant impact on the business and receiving high praise from colleagues too. This commendation covers the substantial time and cost-saving benefits, helping colleagues to feel safer, and giving them more time to focus on their customers.

What Is SmartCash?

SmartCash is Co-op's all-encompassing cash handling solution comprising of Volumatic's CounterCache intelligent (CCi) money counter with integration into their EPOS system providing greater visibility during the cash handling process.

SmartCash offers the significant benefit of providing a one-touch cash process. This is where colleagues handle notes just once during the entire in-store banking process.

As well as minimising cash contact, SmartCash now eliminates several redundant steps from the Co-op's previous cash handling process. Whereas the previous cash process covered 15 steps from transaction to banking, SmartCash cuts this down to just seven steps, increasing efficiency and saving time and money.

The Co-op saw remarkable benefits during the initial 59 store trial. Consequently, the rollout was quickly given the green light, and all 2,600 Co-op stores will benefit from the SmartCash solution.  

The Benefits Of SmartCash

Minimising Cash Contact

In light of the pandemic where there has been a focus on minimising contact across a range of store processes and activities, there has never been a better time to focus on contact-minimising technologies. While there is no known evidence of cash transmitting the Coronavirus, SmartCash does minimise cash contact to just one touch, which increases employee and customer peace of mind.

As well as COVID implications, minimising cash contact helps colleagues to feel more confident in handling cash. SmartCash checks, validates, and counts deposited notes, allowing the colleague to focus on providing dedicated customer service, confident that banknotes are in safe hands with the CCi.

With intuitive features such as checking the last ten notes put through the CCi, it becomes safe and easy to answer any customer queries and validate till actions without opening the till and conducting a full recount.

"There are even more benefits for my managers and other members of the team. As the units count the cash, we have more accurate counts at the end of the day. It also helps us minimise cash handling, which has been a real benefit throughout the pandemic." – Co-op Team Leader.

Reducing Fraud

Like all retail settings, the Co-op Food Group is concerned about forged notes that enter the business and till shortages. For example, the Bank Of England state that, in 2020, there were around 170,000 forged notes in circulation throughout the UK. However, with SmartCash's capabilities as a banknote checker, it is now possible for the Co-op Food Group to accurately check every note. The SmartCash system follows the Bank Of England's framework to check against all known forgeries.

Consequently, with the SmartCash system in place, Co-op Food Group has seen the benefit of fully validated notes and a significant reduction in forgeries since the rollout.

SmartCash will offer even more benefits in reducing fraud with the introduction of £50 polymer notes. As £50 polymer notes will be accessible via ATMs, retail stores are likely to see an increase in the use of such notes. SmartCash is able to detect and verify notes, which can offer significant cash confidence.

"One time, I was given a convincing counterfeit £20 note. I tried to feed it into the SmartCash unit, but it spat it back out, which prompted me to double-check it. The customer was shocked that it was a fake, but they understood we couldn't accept the counterfeit note. SmartCash is really a great tool to ensure all accepted money is real and valid." – Co-op Store Colleague.

Store Safety

The introduction of SmartCash has reduced the need for store managers to manually conduct till counts at the start and end of day, which can be a risk concern for stores. Cash is counted, bundled and easily banked.

"Overall, the units have been great. They've helped reduce excess cash handling and avoid any potential issues with money. Also, because we don't have to do as much counting, my managers can spend more time on the shop floor with the team and our customers." – Co-op Store Colleague.

Fewer Mistakes

With reduced manual cash counting, the Co-op Food Group has already said that the SmartCash has significantly reduced errors. Till shortages have been minimised thanks to thorough validation and full audit trails.

The till point CCi solutions within the SmartCash system hold historical data. For any till losses or in-store investigations, it is now possible to conduct full investigations quickly and easily.

"Another great tool is the ability to check the last ten notes you put into the unit. Human errors happen – on some occasions, I've hit or tapped the wrong button on the till screen, which calculates the change required for the customer. Luckily with SmartCash, I can check what note I fed into the unit in case I forgot the amount, or a customer queries their change." – Co-op Store Colleague.

Saving Time

Ensuring excellent customer service and support is a priority for the Co-op Food Group. Consequently, it is important for the teams to have as much time as possible dedicated customer-centric store activities to provide the best experience possible for their customers.

SmartCash significantly reduces manual counting and negates the need for dual validation activities when it comes to cash counting. This enables stores a quicker set-up every morning and also supports a faster close-down to help ensure colleagues can leave on time.

This time-saving offer benefits customers too, with colleagues being able to focus entirely on their needs, knowing cash handling is fast, safe and accurate.

"The new cash process means I can be on the shop floor within eight minutes of starting my shift." – Co-op Store Manager.

"I cannot believe how much time has been saved, so straightforward, and the team is feeling really confident. One very happy Store Manager here!" – Co-op Store Manager.

SmartCash Support

As part of the partnership with Co-op, Volumatic are on hand to offer customer support with regard to the CCis in-store. This means that the CCi solutions are regularly updated in line with the Bank of England framework and to accommodate any new notes that are introduced.

What's more, the support is on-hand for any enquiries, helping to make sure cash handling is a stress-free as possible.

"Being a part of the SmartCash trial was great, and it's helped improve our ways of working with cash in store. During the trial, we did have some issues, including a specific Northern Ireland £10 note not being recognised by the unit, but the SmartCash team were on hand to help us solve this problem, and now it works like a dream. That's why being part of the trial helps us work through any kinks, so it works perfectly for everyone when it's rolled out." – Co-op Store Manager

"SmartCash has completely changed the way we work with cash."

The benefits have been evident to the Co-op Food Group and could help your retail business too. To find out how Volumatic can help your retail business transform its cash handling to increase safety and save time and money, get in touch with the Volumatic team today.

Discuss your requirements with us today