The Cash Office Goes High-Tech

Janette Davis, senior VP implementations and quality assurance, Balance Innovations, Lenexa, Kan.,

Traditionally, cash office management and the reconciliation process have relied on manual procedures, such as counting currency and coin by hand, creating handwritten check deposits, and keying totals into the POS system. Many retailers have used the same cash office procedures for years, with the procedures inconsistently executed from store to store. Chain Store Age talked with Balance Innovations’ Janette Davis about how technology is bringing new efficiencies to cash office management.

What is the biggest mistake retailers make when it comes to cash office management?

One of the most interesting statements we hear from almost all of our customers in the beginning is that they don’t think they have a problem in their cash offices. They are looking at ways to solve a few issues, like managing safes. When we work with retailers, we step back and review the entire cash office and reconciliation process. Retailers see our analysis of their daily processes — till balancing, deposits, check processing, etc. — and realize their current methods aren’t efficient. They are struck by just how much the inefficiency is costing them and how much of it is consuming their day. Many are skeptical that a technology solution can help them solve these issues. After we show them how Balance Innovations can save them up to 60% in labor costs, among many other benefits, they are eager to implement a VeriBalance pilot program in their stores.

What are the drawbacks and benefits of outsourcing cash counting and check processing?

Some retailers choose to outsource cash counting and check processing to save labor hours or to reduce cash touches within the stores. While this may seem to be a more convenient solution, there are many drawbacks — primarily cost. Banks charge exorbitant fees for these services, and you lose the ability to follow up on discrepancies, such as an over/short or a missing check, at the store level on the day they occur. Outsourcing these processes takes the control away from the retailers, and it doesn’t address the store-level issues that prompted outsourcing in the first place.

Reconciling at the store level is more efficient because bookkeepers are able to rectify issues much more quickly by researching the problem with the staff on site. If reconciliation is done at corporate or at a district office, it can be days or weeks until a discrepancy is identified, and resolution is more difficult because so much time has passed.

How does Balance Innovations help retailers with their cash office management?

Through its simplified, automated processes and its integration with the POS, our VeriBalance program significantly reduces the time needed to complete bookkeeping tasks, allowing retailers to redirect their teams to other activities, such as working with customers.

Rather than requiring cash office personnel to manually count cash, balance checks and process credit and debit, our solution integrates in real time with the point of sale, pulling totals and reconciling them with till contents. Balance Innovations’ solutions reduce shrink through improved accountability of cash management functions, providing an audit trail and historical research capabilities. 

What type of impact, if any, do self-checkouts have on back-end practices in this area?

Managing, monitoring, balancing and forecasting the cash held by self-checkout terminals is a manual and time-consuming process for the cash office.

Our solution, vbScout, automates the balancing and reconciliation of self-checkout terminals and allows the cash office to monitor the level of cash and coin in each terminal. It alerts the user to low cash or coin conditions and also provides notification as cash acceptors approach their thresholds. The combination of the two technologies reduces the frequency of balancing the terminals and downtime for the customer caused by out-of-cash conditions or full acceptors. vbScout also eliminates manual balancing errors by guiding bookkeepers through a step-by-step process of balancing each terminal.

How does your back-office check conversion work?

vbEPIX enables retailers to implement back-office check conversion, providing total reconciliation. It works in conjunction with our VeriBalance cash office solution and is integrated in real time with the chain’s POS system.

All check types can be imaged with vbEPIX with no user decisioning. This check conversion solution leverages POS transactions to ensure all checks are balanced and reconciled. Corrections occur at the store level, ensuring deposits are accurate.

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