Retailers slow to take advantage

Retailers slow to take advantage of increased cash usage

Globally, cash is still the most commonly used form of payment in retail.


In the UK 52% (£260bn) of payments are made with cash.

UK consumers withdraw cash more often than any other EU nation and retail is the largest cash-using sector, accounting for 63% of all cash transactions.

And high cash usage has significant benefits for retailers…

According to the 2014 British Retail Consortium survey, cash is currently the cheapest payment instrument to process at just 1.3 pence (versus 12pence for a debit card and 35pence for a credit card payment). The survey also found cash to be quickest payment method.

And yet despite being the most popular, fastest and cheapest payment method, not all retailers have necessarily fully realized the opportunities it offers them.

“For many retailers, cash handling is still very labour intensive, with some retailers touching their cash as many as fourteen times before it is banked.

Multiple counts and touch points in store, counterfeits and difficult to detect POS fraud, combined with poor visibility and control of cash, make shrink virtually inevitable” says James Harris, Commercial Director at cash handling experts Volumatic.

Indeed, the latest UK Retail Fraud Survey found that significant areas of store loss amongst 100 of the UK’s leading retailers included administrative and bookkeeping errors (18%) and cash theft (12%).
So it is likely that many retailers could benefit from reviewing how they validate, count, store and move cash within their business. Here are some places to start…

Top tips for reducing cash shrink

  1. Poor visibility equals vulnerability. The more cash you have in the tills, the greater the opportunity there is for criminals to try and remove it forcibly. Secure storage boxes, such as Countercache, fixed just below till height, have become a popular way of securing cash at the POS, holding notes securely out of sight.
  2. Reduce time spent handling cash at the till. If criminals spot employees counting cash at the till for long periods of time, they will see it as an opportunity. Of course cash skims are often used by retailers to minimize cash at the till point. However, counting by hand can provide temptation as well as being open to inaccuracies and slowing customer service. Using count by weight technology makes the cash counting process a lot simpler and around six times faster than counting by hand. It also reduces or eliminates counting errors.
  3. Make sure that your technology is easy to use. For example, if you use count by weight devices, the introduction of touch screen technology using icons similar to those on a smartphone, make it easy for even a multi-cultural workforce with minimal training to operate. If you introduce technology, make sure that the benefits are easily accessible to the people who will use it!
  4. Remove need for manual entry of cash totals. After cash has been counted, often the totals for each till are manually entered into a cash office spreadsheet. Again this is time consuming and susceptible to errors. Some count by weight equipment can now offer the opportunity to upload data to your cash office spreadsheets or other systems automatically; eliminating keying errors and saving time.
  5. Carry out and document spot checks. Count by weight machines not only speed up spot checks dramatically, but they can also be used to create an audit trail by creating a time stamped, printout of totals for the cashier to sign.
  6. Fundamentally re-evaluate if you actually need a traditional cash office at all. Leading retailers, such as Morrisons, now employ technology at their point of sale that means cash has to only be touched once; when the cashier accepts it. Notes are fed into a desktop device that authenticates, counts and securely stores them in a tamper evident pouch. The note is never touched again until it reaches Morrison’s bank. The counts provided by this technology are so accurate that they are readily accepted by banks, CiT, and cash processors. Often, adopting this kind of technology will allow backroom staff to be be redeployed to customer facing positions.

The increase in cash use offers retailers a number of important benefits. However, to realize the full potential it is apparent that cash handling processes must be streamlined and efficient.

“The key is to take the “handling” out of your cash handling processes”, says James Harris. “That’s not just good news for the loss prevention teams, but can also bring significant, cross-functional benefits to operations, finance, HR and logistics too.”

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