Last week, I shared some of the store balancing manual processes and reporting I see in the retail space when I perform back-office observations. Those manual tasks create a lot of headaches for retailers of all types and sizes — even ones that don’t take much cash.
As with every aspect of your business, it’s a solid practice to occasionally step back and re-evaluate the currency management processes and systems you have in place. Examining how you handle and report on funds — and why — is essential to improving productivity at stores and at corporate.
Finding your best practices
A lot of the manual methods I observe in the retail space are still performed just because they’ve always been done that way. The problem with them is that they’re open to human error or fraud at so many turns.
That’s why developing a set of store balancing best practices is so crucial. Take a good look at your currency operations to find areas you can improve and ways you can implement best practices. Along the way, ensure you consider:
- Consistency. Operational efficiency in your currency management depends on consistency across your organization. Consider solutions that are uniform in their procedures and reporting to ensure you receive the same information in the same way from each store. No matter what counting technologies you might have implemented in individual stores, a single platform that aggregates their data and provides it to you in a reliable way puts every store on an even playing field and makes it easier to see any problems.
- Automation. Automating manual tasks not only offers consistency and accuracy, but it saves time. If you shaved 30 minutes off currency management in each store, what would your employees be able to do with that time instead? Most retailers we work with devote the time saved to customer service. Whether that means having back-office staff provide breaks to cashiers (eliminating a cashier shift in the process), man the customer service desk (saving payroll hours for that position), or work the floor to merchandise and to help customers (enhancing customer experience), it all improves the productivity of your stores.
- Ease of use. Whatever systems and processes you have in place today, how simple are they to use and perform? Do they require a lot of interpretation or computation of device data by employees? Work toward a process that allows the user to function in a “heads down” capacity. Interacting with multiple devices and paper reports or electronic spreadsheets efficiently takes time and focus that just aren't common in a busy retail environment. When an employee can use a single system that automates typical currency management tasks, they can finish their work quickly and accurately and move to more productive tasks.
- Simple reporting. It never fails when I visit a store’s back office — I see stacks and stacks of paper, whether they’re handwritten logs or printed electronic reports corporate requires them to store on site. These manual reports are time-consuming for both stores and corporate, but reporting must be simple to ensure both accuracy and timeliness. Examine your reports: Are they all necessary? Are you getting information you really use and can act on? Do you get them fast enough to stop problems before they grow? Consider automating store reports to save time for employees, prevent fraud, and stay in control of your stores' success.
Most of the retailers I meet have a hard time answering all the store performance questions about cash on hand, over/shorts, deposit tracking and compliance I posed in my last post — quickly, at least. But when you start with a strong set of store balancing best practices and the right technology to implement those practices, that information is at your fingertips, making your job easier — and your stores better.