The Costcutter store in Porthleven, UK, is a busy place, especially in the summer months when tourists flock to the seaside town. The staff were spending more than two hours daily counting money, calculating cash floats and topping up tills, which hurt productivity. With multiple cashiers using the same tills, it was difficult to hold anyone accountable for discrepancies. After installation, the SMARTtill® Solution allowed staff to be more efficient and improve customer service.
To boost efficiency, the owner of the Porthleven Costcutter store started looking at new cash management options. It so happened Costcutter Supermarkets Group was trying out the SMARTtill® Intelligent Cash Drawer from Cash Bases Ltd, a Newhaven, UK, company that merged with Minneapolis-based APG Cash Drawer in 2015. When the franchise’s owner saw the drawer in action, he liked what he saw and decided to deploy the SMARTtill® Solution.
A solution consisting of four 460 Flip Lid SMARTtill® Intelligent Cash Drawers and the SMARTtill® Cash Manager application was deployed, replacing an older set of Cash Bases drawers.
Prior to the installation of the SMARTtill® Solution, cash reconciliation consumed as much as two hours daily. It took 45 minutes to count cash, establish cash lift and topup values, and reset the drawer’s inserts. At day’s end, cashiers would take the inserts up a set of stairs to a back office for counting. The inserts were then refilled with the next day’s cash floats.
When a cashier ran out of coins during the day, a supervisor would take a £20 note and exchange it for coins in the back room. “This involved running with money up and down the stairs, which is not very effective and it eats up time. This could happen up to 10 times in a day,” says store manager Andy Pengelly. At busy times, it interrupted customer service.
Another issue involved cash lifts. Three times a day, a supervisor would lift cash from the drawers, stuff it into envelopes, write down the amount and place it in a safe. The next day, the cash was fed through a mechanical note counter as part of the reconciliation process.
With the SMARTtill® Solution in place, employees “don’t carry money around the store for counting purposes anymore,” says Mr. Pengelly. The SMARTtill® Solution calculates cash amounts, eliminating the need to remove individual coin and note inserts everyday, which saves time. The note counter has been retired.
“With the SMARTtill® Intelligent Cash Drawer, any time cash goes in or out of the till, it is checked, counted and recorded. In the past, we only checked the till during the morning reconciliation,” Mr. Pengelly says. Now when reconciliation reports are printed out, they accurately show the real float value, and no longer the expected calculated cash value.
When a float top-up is needed, SMARTtill® Cash Manager Software uses a traffic light-like system to tell a supervisor a certain denomination is running low (yellow light) on any of the tills. “When he goes out to the checkouts next time, he picks up the needed cash and drops it into the till. This is preventative and causes no customer interruptions because change never runs out.”
In addition, the SMARTtill® Cash Management Solution automatically records cash lifts and generates a report that goes in the envelope with the money. The report serves as a backup to daily reconciliation reports.
Even though the store didn’t have much of a cash loss problem, Mr. Pengelly says, company policy calls for investigating discrepancies of £5 or more. With multiple cashiers using the same till, it was hard to attribute a discrepancy to anyone. Even when consulting security CCTV footage, the culprit might not be obvious.
With the SMARTtill® Solution in place, footage is timestamped and store managers can quickly identify any till disputes in the CCTV footage — a task that normally would be laborious and consume many hours. That’s no longer an issue. The SMARTtill® Solution keeps accurate counts and a record of who is using the till. “It is not about not trusting, but rather about genuine errors and supporting your staff,” he says. Mr. Pengelly expects the SMARTtill® Intelligent Cash Drawer will reduce cash losses to zero.
The SMARTtill® Solution also solves customer disputes. If a customer says he or she received change for, say, £10 instead of £20, the SMARTtill® Cash Manager Software can tell immediately if the customer is right. In the past, the customer would be asked to come back the next day after reconciliation. It was inconvenient for customers and awkward for employees, but now the SMARTtill® Solution serves as an independent witness.
Installing the SMARTtill® Solutions took one day. It started with the least busy POS and moved up to the busiest. “It was smooth without any disruption to customer service,” Mr. Pengelly says.
Staff training was a straightforward process, mostly involving cashiers adjusting to a new insert layout with different note and coin locations. They also had to learn a few new key commands, as well as changes to the float and cash lift processes.
“Employees embraced the solution because it saves time and speeds up transactions,” Mr. Pengelly says. “The SMARTtill® Intelligent Cash Drawers haven’t changed their job at all, but now they get a receipt at the end of their shift showing them the accuracy of their job, which is a plus.”
Mr. Pengelly says the time savings made possible by the SMARTtill® Solution has allowed him to reassign staff to other tasks he had to cram into his day. Overall, the SMARTtill® Solution has been a positive addition, making the store more efficient and improving customer service. As such, Mr. Pengelly believes the Porthleven store will serve as a model for other Costcutter stores.
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