News Feature | August 18, 2014

APG's Bergeron Talks Sensible Solutions — Not Sexy Technologies — At RetailNOW

By Jim Roddy, president, Business Solutions magazine

APG’s Bergeron At RetailNOW

Sexy technologies dominate the headlines at most channel trade shows, and RetailNOW 2014 in Orlando was no different. Tablets, mobile payments, interactive digital signage, and cloud POS certainly deserve your attention. But I was reminded during Stephen Bergeron’s RetailNOW presentation Aug. 6 that we shouldn't overlook sensible solutions that aren't flashy but help merchants.

Bergeron, a respected industry veteran and the VP of Global Marketing for APG Cash Drawer, presented on the topic of “Emerging Cash Management Trends,” and the backdrop of his talk was improving the consumer experience. “Become the customer experience consultant,” he implored the resellers in attendance. “Help the retailer with the customer experience.”

Bergeron also noted the reseller benefits of talking cash management with your customers. He said the typical life of a POS system is 5 to 7 years but can span up to 12 years, so selling entirely new systems to your current customer base is not the fast track to increased revenue. Bergeron said guiding your customers about cash management — a blind spot for many merchants and restaurateurs — continues to develop your status as the trusted advisor and can lead to add-on sales.

Many SMB retailers and restaurant owners don’t think about their employees stealing from them because their employees are oftentimes family or have become friends of the owner. Ask your customers if they are aware of these two statistics:

  • Dishonest employees steal 55 percent more than shoplifters. (Jack L. Hayes International)
  • Employee theft costs American employers more than $50 billion each year (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Among the cash management solutions Bergeron recommended resellers investigate are a cash drawer that has a scale built in that counts/weighs money in real time. He also recommended researching automatic change dispensers because they both reduce employee theft and help streamline customers through the transaction queue. Bergeron noted this can help your merchants save 10 to 15 seconds on every cash transaction because change is provided instantly — no counting necessary. Not only will this help retailers serve customers faster during peak hours, it can reduce the number of shoppers who walk out of the store when the lines are too long.

Bergeron listed these additional benefits of auto change counters and recommended VARs share them with their customers:

  • Improve the visualization of what you charge and give as change
  • Ensure you give the right change
  • Allow the associate more time for customer service
  • Improve hygiene by avoiding direct contact with the money

I can personally vouch that this improves the customer experience. I patronize two convenience store chains — one that uses an automated change dispenser and one that does not. The lines certainly move faster and I have never received the wrong change from the store that uses the change dispenser. When I have a choice which chain to buy from (they are located across the street from each other in some parts near where I live), I choose the store that is more automated. My decision isn’t based 100 percent on who gives me my nickels faster, but that does factor into which store I perceive is more forward-thinking and customer friendly.

You might be thinking, “But I thought everything was shifting to credit cards and mobile payments. Why should I be talking cash management with my customers?” Bergeron said, “We have more cash in circulation today than at any time during our history. $1.2 trillion — that’s with a ‘T’ — is in circulation today. About 40 percent of all transactions today are cash.” Bergeron listed six reasons cash won't disappear during our lifetimes:

1. Cash is universal. Cash is accepted everywhere from big retailers to mom-and-pop shops.

2. It’s fast. Credit cards and debit card transactions take more time in most cases than having the appropriate amount of cash in hand.

3. It’s influential. The immediacy of cash lends itself to negotiating power. Even larger stores prefer cash to avoid fees that are part of merchant credit card agreements.

4. It’s anonymous. People like privacy, and cash affords them that luxury.

5. It’s simple. There’s no hidden-fee structure – just a single, simple transaction.

6. It’s direct. When cash is received, the transaction is complete.

Bergeron also recommended resellers talk beyond technology about best practices for supporting employee theft. He said handing your customers a one-page checklist with this information about ways to reduce employee theft would help your customer and increase your trusted advisor status:

  • Perform thorough employee background checks
  • Don't assume that well-paid employees won't steal
  • Remove the chances to steal
  • Create a non-threatening environment with employee empowerment and bonuses
  • Avoid double standards and favoring certain employees
  • Have employees discourage theft among each other
  • Be a role model

RetailNOW 2014, hosted by the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA), was conducted Aug. 3-6 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, FL. For more information on the event, go to www.BSMinfo.com/solution/InsideRSPA

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