Five Ways Retail Stores Can Improve Their Cash Security

06 January 2023

Ask any retailer, and they will tell you that, sometimes, the cash in the till at the end of the day just doesn’t add up. This can be down to simple human error - like a staff member giving the wrong change to a customer - and, unfortunately, it can also be down to human greed or desperation in hard times. Every year, employees steal over £190 million from their employers. To put that in context, that’s equivalent to 22% of all losses.

Whatever the reason, with the current cost-of living-crisis deepening and customer shoplifting increasing at an alarming rate too, retailers really can’t afford to lose a penny of their hard-earned cash. This is why businesses must do everything they can to improve the security of their cash takings. By increasing cash security, retailers can avoid even the smallest errors and deal with the much more damaging issues of staff theft more efficiently and effectively.

Improving Retail Cash Security

Managing cash transactions and keeping your cash secure doesn't have to be complicated. It does however require time, effort and investment to get things right. So, while every business is different, most cash security strategies remain the same. The best strategies involve developing good working practices and investing in the right tools to ensure cash losses are kept to a minimum wherever possible.

As cash-handling experts, Volumatic are well placed to give advice on five of the best ways to help retailers bolster their cash security:

1. Documented cash handling procedures

All retailers should have clear cash handling procedures for staff which outline the steps ALL employees must take when handling cash. This will reduce the risk of mistakes being made. An effective cash handling procedure will include:

  • Step-by-step instructions for employees on how to handle cash
  • Staff roles and responsibilities, e.g. who can process a transaction
  • How much and how long cash should stay in a cash register
  • Advice on changing the routine of your cash handling procedures to avoid thieves knowing when to strike
  • What to do if there are discrepancies, including how to escalate an issue

The most crucial area here is identifying discrepancies, because by identifying the discrepancy quickly, you can also quickly identify the cause. If a lot of staff are making the same mistake, for example, they probably require additional training. Training may also be required if just a few staff are making errors. However, frequent errors by one or two staff may also be an indication of theft or fraud.

Remember, when introducing cash handling procedures to train all staff and implement regular checks of working practice. These will highlight any issues and areas for improvement.

2. Sensible and efficient cash storage

According to the Association of Convenience Stores, taking cash from tills was the most common form of internal theft in 2021/22. The more cash there is lying in a till drawer, the higher the risk your staff will be tempted to take it, especially when so many people in the UK right now are struggling to pay their normal bills right now.

A full till drawer also increases the chance of mistakes being made. If a cash drawer is overflowing, for example, two notes may be grabbed instead of one, and not all customers will be honest about being given more change than they are owed.

A simple way to reduce the temptation for a staff member to help themselves and the chance of mistakes being made is by setting limits for how much money can be kept in your register and using a secure cash solution which sits at your POS. With an intelligent cash solution such as Volumatic’s CounterCache intelligent (CCi), your team can deposit all banknotes received from your customers directly into the secure device. Cash cannot be accessed until it reaches your bank as it uses tamper-evident technology to keep your cash sealed in a secure, recyclable pouch.

As well as reducing the risk of till snatches, the CCi can also eliminate fraudulent notes from entering your business, while also accurately counting the money inserted into the device to eliminate errors and give you accurate daily reporting via Volumatic's clever CashView Enterprise software. 

3. Choosing the right staff

It isn’t possible to remove the risk of staff theft entirely. However, you can reduce it. Make sure you have robust recruitment practices, for example. This includes doing background checks and checking references as well as regular supervision of everyone who works for you. 

In addition, it can help to limit the number of people with access to your till points. This means, if there is a shortfall in takings, there are fewer places to look at for where it went wrong.  It also means if there is a possibility of theft, you will be more easily able to identify the culprit.

4. Security measures

One of the best ways to reduce the risk of theft or identify where your cash handling procedures have fallen down when tills are short is security. This may mean a security guard who patrols your store. However, there is no guarantee they will be in the right place at the right time to spot a staff member stealing from the till. CCTV is, therefore, a much better option when it comes to keeping retail cash safe.

If possible, install two CCTV cameras, one at the entrance, and one covering the cash register. To ensure images are of a good quality, choose a system with a minimum of 30 frames per second. You will also need to check the lighting and camera angle before installing. Finally, remember that if you install CCTV, you need to comply with GDPR.

5. Point of Sale cash handling solutions

Possibly the best way to keep cash safe, however, is to invest in a point of sale (POS) cash handling solution. POS cash handling solutions are becoming more and more commonplace in both big and small retailers these days, which is no surprise as they offer immediate efficiencies - no more lengthy manual cash counting - and longer-term cost savings. The CCi by Volumatic is a perfect example of why POS solutions work and is used by the likes of Tesco, Morrisons, The Co-op Food Group and Wilko.

The CCi streamlines your cash handling process from the moment the customer pays to the moment the money arrives at your bank. In doing so, it reduces the risk of lost income due to theft, fraud and human error. It does this by significantly limiting the time staff handle cash - essentially your cash is only touched once by your employees. Once entered into the CCi your cash is securely stored in the device, which also validates and counts the cash, making it easily transferable to your bank.

The Benefits of Cash

Cash transactions offer so many benefits to retailers. They reduce the risk of fraudulent payments and help with cash flow. Cash usage is also becoming increasingly more common amongst those facing hardship this winter to help them budget more effectively, particularly among students and the elderly, so it's important that retailers are prepared to accept cash and have the ability to process it efficiently. Plus, there are none of the additional (and ever-increasing) fees that come with card payments.

All of these benefits will be lost however, if businesses don’t have the correct cash handling procedures in place and don’t invest in the necessary tools needed to effectively manage your cash transactions.

Mike Severs, Sales & Marketing Director at Volumatic said: "It's vitally important that retailers, and in fact, any other business that handles cash has the correct security measures in place. Whilst CCTV and other security devices are invaluable, investing in a reliable cash handling solution such as our CCi solution saves you time and money and helps reduce the risks associated with cash handling. It helps to keep your staff feeling safer as well as also taking away any temptation to steal internally. The CCi has been proven to reduce cash handling processing by 75%, so the investment pays for itself in no time - it really makes sense at a time when saving money is more important than ever."

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