Deposit management sounds simple, right? Your stores send deposits to the bank, and the funds show up in your account. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of ways your deposit process can go awry.
As with many challenges involved in retail currency management, manual processes cause many of the problems with deposits. Manual procedures leave a lot of opportunity for fraud and errors – both inside and outside your business.
As I've worked with retailers, I’ve heard about pain points like these:
- Delayed exception reporting. The game of telephone between corporate, a store with an over/short and the bank can be a maze of phone calls, emails and faxes of paper store reports and bank statements that takes weeks or months to resolve. I’ve seen it happen over as little as $20, with the retailer spending far more in employee time to resolve the exception.
- Cumbersome processes. Deposits take a lot of time each day with all the manual steps involved in counting, verifying, preparing and reporting on the funds sent to the bank. One study even reported that deposit preparation takes an average of 36.5 minutes per deposit. (Surely there’s other things your employees can do with 30 minutes, right?) For stores without armored car pickup, driving or walking the deposit to the bank takes time and increases risk.
- Poor compliance tracking. Compliance is important in every aspect of your operations, but compliance surrounding deposits is especially crucial — the large amounts of money involved with deposits are risky both in terms of loss and employee safety. But manually combing through store reports and bank statements to ensure compliance with your deposit schedule and procedures is laborious and prone to errors.
- Unavailable funds. Speaking of deposit schedules – if yours aren’t followed in your stores, will your money be ready for you to withdraw when you expect it to be? Maybe not. And without timely information, you might find yourself without working capital you were counting on.
- Too many third-party relationships. One retailer I’ve observed maintains banking relationships with 15 different banks in different areas of the country. You can imagine the time their corporate team spends reconciling statements and communicating with each bank. Each one has a different portal, a different schedule and different requirements. It makes it difficult for this retailer to identify whether the fees they’re being charged for deposits are accurate.
The problem is that most retailers think issues like these are just par for the course. They’ve been handling store deposits this way for years, and they have long-standing banking relationships that aren’t easy to change because of geographical concerns. But, through automation and integration, deposits can be easier and more efficient.
When you’re ready to the tackle the problem, make sure you have all the bases covered:
Track deposits every step of the way
Do you have data about all the critical points in the deposit process? If not, you could be missing important opportunities to prevent loss and better manage cash assets. Ensure you can view deposits at these points: expected amount, created, picked up, in transit, received by the bank, credited to your account, adjustments and reconciled with your corporate records.
Match fees to services
Did your armored car service really pick up seven deposits from Store 582 last month, or was it five? Did your bank charge you for adjustments that weren’t actually made? Those discrepancies add up, especially across a large enterprise – and that’s not even including the time your team spends to find, flag, research and resolve these erroneous fees. Automated fee reconciliation as part of your deposit management process will ensure you don’t overpay or waste time researching mistakes.
Optimize cash assets
Based on sales, you should have a good idea of deposits each day at each store – if your team has time to manually verify that deposits match an expected amount based on sales, that is. But if you tie deposit management to other automated currency management functions like payment reconciliation, you’ll know the expected deposit amount for each store each day, allowing you to better forecast and deploy cash assets.
As your business grows and evolves, certain aspects that seemed “good enough” in the past will have to get better if you want to stay competitive. Deposit management might not be the first place you’d think to look for opportunities to streamline operations and cut costs – but it shouldn’t be the last either. Talk with your loss prevention, treasury and sales audit teams about the challenges they see with deposits. Improving how they’re handled could make a big difference to productivity and profitability.