The Buck Stops Here
The point of sale cash drawer is the first funnel of retail profit. Two vendors offer advice on plugging up leaks and making profits of your own.
Security is a consideration fundamental to cash drawers and a leading catalyst in the development of their functionality. Recent innovations are helping cash drawer manufacturers develop vertical-specific solutions, allowing more room for differentiation among vendors in this competitive market. Manufacturers have learned that they must innovate and address weaknesses and end user problems in order to keep and gain customers. Likewise, a VAR needs to be aware of every service opportunity - even the small ones - to maintain relationships with its customers. Are you losing valuable face time with your customers by ignoring their cash drawer needs?
A Safety Deposit Box At The POS
At cash drawer vendor Cash Bases, the demand for secure drawers has been addressed by the company's SecurePlus product, which Operations Manager Jack Brown calls a note-skimming cash drawer. A mechanism skims high-denomination bills from the till each time it is closed, then deposits them in a security box beneath the counter. This minimizes loss due to both internal fraud and outside theft. Should the till or its contents be stolen, the big money stays put. Brown says that while the solution was developed with 24/7 convenience, gas station, and liquor store applications in mind, a large part of the drawer's success is due to its adoption by large nightclubs, where employees could easily steal cash.
Cash Bases has developed an RS-232 interface that complements the note-skimming drawer by sending information to a database that records every time the drawer is opened, by whom, and why (e.g. to execute a transaction, change a till, etc.). Developed for the United States Postal Service, the interface also records the means of access so managers can see whether the drawer was opened through the PC or by key, for example.
Innovations like these, combined with good old-fashioned durable materials, can help create a secure area for your customer's profits to gather. In fact, Brown refers to the "18-inch screwdriver test" as being something of a new requisite to Cash Bases' drawers. "A large supermarket customer wanted us to build a cash drawer that would resist being torn apart when left alone for one minute with a hoodlum and an 18-inch screwdriver. We used heavy duty and aerospace materials to build it," he says. The design of this drawer was a learning exercise for Cash Bases, and as a result, vandal resistant mechanisms will be implemented in more of the company's drawers.
Drawer Features Spell Opportunities For VARs
Bruce Mann, VP of marketing and product development at CRS, Inc. says the increasing number of options available in cash drawers creates opportunities for upgrades and service contracts. "My perception is that we're dealing in more of an oligopoly, so very little product differentiation can substantially change or influence the buying decision," he contends. He sees nothing so groundbreaking about tomorrow's cash drawer that it will reinvent the retail workstation, but he claims that understanding the subtle differences in the cash drawer component can help a VAR.
"Customers are looking for a selection of products to choose from that will give them options for a precise match of the product to their specific vertical application, and they want it on their terms," he says. This is where customization can make a sale. Consider the selling points of the Cash Bases' note-skimming cash drawer in 24/7 convenience stores, or those of APG Cash Drawer's POS Podium, which allows the clerk to face customers throughout the transaction, in applications like grocery stores and banks.
Is Your Customer Bypassing You?
Finally, Mann points to cash drawer-specific service revenue as an area all too often neglected by POS VARs. "The VAR needs to be the person the customer looks for when he breaks a till, needs an aftermarket product, or loses a key. Unfortunately, in an open architecture environment, this isn't always the case. The customer will call a manufacturer with those needs because VARs aren't providing cradle-to-grave service," he says. Mann advises scheduling sales calls for products like new tills, till covers, and drawer upsells in between all-out POS station upgrades. Not only can such visits create business, they establish the VAR as the go-to resource for service.
What About Self-Checkout?
While the naive question to ask about self-checkout might be, "Where would all the cash drawers go?" cash drawer vendors aren't concerned. "Self-checkout and the electronic payment revolution in general haven't significantly affected the cash drawer industry yet," Brown assures. "While they will certainly eventually have an impact, there seems to be a propensity to still use cash, especially in hospitality settings," he says. And even though self-checkout lanes don't use cash drawers in their traditional form, there will always be transaction records that need to be secured. "Besides," says Mann, "traditional checkout lanes won't be removed to accommodate self-checkout. Self-checkout augments the POS." Whatever their future, today's cash drawers are increasingly feature-rich and functional, and vendors want VARs who make sure end users know it.