The following interview with APG’s Senior Account Manager, Nick Markwell was issued by Ben Giese from Ixtenso, a media partner of the EuroCIS Retail Show in Germany. This interview covers everything you need to know about APG’s SMARTtill Solution® technology and how it aligns with a convenience store environment. At EuroCIS in 2018, APG will be launching mobile and cloud based TCP/IP technology with the SMARTtill Intelligent Cash Drawer for an enhanced retail POS experience.
Come and visit us for a live demonstration in Hall 9 at Stand D13 at EuroCIS, Europe’s biggest Retail Technology event in Germany between 27th February and 1st March.
Only a few years ago, retailers were confronted with poor options for managing their cash. They could continue to invest hours each day
preparing tills, continually checking if correct levels of change were available at each till, and investigating the inevitable cash losses late into the night. Or they could invest large sums of money in fully closed cash handling systems.
These options left store managers frustrated until a new solution stepped up to offer most of the benefits of closed cash handling without to prohibitive investment. Since then, retailing establishments have seen an increasing implementation of this SMARTtill Technology including within stores of the largest retailer in the UK and the hospitality sector in Spain. More recently, another division of retail is proving to be a good fit for this technology — the convenience store sector. Nick Markwell has been responsible for many of these implementations during this time in his position as Senior Account Manager at APG EMEA.
Cash Handling in Retail (Nick, how do you see the current state of cash handling in retailing at the POS?)
The POS has been a point of massive investment recently with offering self-checkout, multiple payment options and customer facing furniture. However, the aspects of cash payment and handling have been neglected. So, despite these obvious improvements for the customer in other areas, the amount of attention given to cash 0management solutions remained unchanged. This oversight is now receiving the attention it deserves.
Importance of Cash Handling (If these other advances have improved the customer experience, why is cash handling important?)
There are specific reasons from the perspective of the cashier and from the store manager. Starting with the store manager, counting cash is an unproductive task. It does nothing to improve any aspect of bringing customers into the store or providing value like stocking, making sure promotions are run effectively, assisting customers and training new employees.
For the cashier, the SMARTtill Intelligent Cash Drawer takes the single biggest headache out of their shift; the stress associated with potential discrepancies conducting cash transactions is not trivial. The SMARTtill Cash Management Solution gives every cashier the confidence and efficiency to provide customers a positive experience at the POS.
Cash Handling in Convenience Stores (How does this translate to the convenience store setting?)
The convenience store is like other retail settings, but in C-stores, the pressure on managers and cashiers are multiplied. Take the perspective of the cashier: in the convenience setting, cash payment transactions make up a large proportion of overall payments. These transactions are an opportunity to provide a positive shopping experience through a confident, friendly cashier. However, these businesses are often targets of criminal attempts to steal cash through quick-change scams. This can cause cashiers to become guarded and apprehensive at the till. Therefore, the SMARTtill Solution® is such a strong aid – by confirming the accuracy of each transaction.
Also in the convenience setting, the cashier isn’t always a dedicated position but rather a duty among multiple responsibilities within the store. Through the SMARTtill Technology, a till can be shared by multiple employees while preserving the personal responsibility of each one who uses it. As the speed of the shopping experience in convenience is so important, this ability for line busting or to jump out and help a customer locating a product is a major benefit.
For any store manager, the SMARTtill Technology resolves most of the pain associated with cash management but a manager in the convenience sector is confronted with some unique challenges. A convenience store manager is responsible for many more daily tasks than in other types of stores. Any time dedicated to productive tasks leads to the successful functioning of the store. However, a convenience store environment often has deeper issues with cash loss due to the volume of transactions and issues of criminality. The solution must be able to reduce workload and increase cash security in all points of the transaction. The SMARTtill Solution® accomplishes this by greatly reducing the tasks attending to cash management for the manager while providing the cashier with piece of mind.
SMARTtill Solution® in Convenience Stores (Many convenience stores are independents or small, local chains. Are they
too small to benefit from the SMARTtill Solution®?)
The biggest misconception about the SMARTtill Solution® is that it’s not needed in independent or small, local chains. Integrating our system into a massive retailer has obvious benefits but requires a greater time investment – but that is to be expected when these large retailers have complex reporting, analytics, click and collect and other systems to consider. The POS systems at smaller independent retailers are much simpler and the retailer sees the immediate benefit of the system directly upon implementation.
The SMARTtill Solution® in Single Locations (Even a single location owner operator?)
The SMARTtill Solution® won’t be right for ALL locations. Let’s face it, in this sector there are some who are surviving while being very low-tech. However, some of our greatest successes come from the owner/manager scenario. This is very common in the convenience sector — from a single store to a small chain in a city. These individuals are very hardworking and used to long days. The SMARTtill Cash Management Solution provides them the real-time data to make decisions like when a till needs a refreshment of a specific coin, when a till has collected enough cash to warrant removing cash, and rectifying any discrepancy in real time in addition to instantly removing the daily task of counting cash.
Convenience stores are also known as the ‘always open’ option for shoppers. This is good for consumers but also adds even more managerial time commitment for each store when it comes to cash handling. For the independent owner/manager the benefits of the time savings are very much appreciated.
Closed Cash Handling Systems (Wouldn’t this be best accomplished through a completely closed cash handling system?)
The convenience store, with its high customer volume but low lines per ticket, is not the place for a closed cash handling system other than in locations of extreme criminality. The SMARTtill Technology provides the benefits of closed cash handling without the eye-popping price. These owners and managers are our most grateful customers; we give them the tool to get back to making money instead of counting it and, to some degree, just a bit of extra time to live their lives.
Cash is Here to Stay (Lastly, why invest in cash at all when it’s going to be replaced within a few years anyway.)
Why invest in cash at all? I’ll just say this: Until cash use it eliminated — completely — then the issues in its handling remain. When I started in this business 15 years ago, it was widely discussed that we would be cashless within 10 years. However, we have just witnessed the Bank of England invest heavily in introducing new £5 & £10 notes as well as new £1 coins. While the total value of the popular euro banknotes in circulation continues to rise year-after-year in the European countries. This is a strong statement that cash is not going away any time soon.