thinking outside the safe box

Retail safes, or “smart safes” as they’re often referred, are quickly becoming a regular component of secure, successful stores. And with their increasing regularity in the industry comes expanded options and technology for retailers to take advantage. CSD gathered insight from four of the biggest cash management suppliers to discuss how their products can best protect retailer’s money.

Participants include

  • Steve Aronson, director of marketing for FireKing
  • Ed Grondahl, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Tidel
  • Brinks CompuServe’s Fred Purches, senior vice president of strategic solutions and product management, and Glenn Mason, vice president
  • John Repka and Christina Vysma, marketing managers for AT Systems.


What improvements do you feel can be made in the retail money handling industry?
Aronson: We estimate that at least 85% of c-stores fail to take full advantage of the newer cash-handling technology available, so that means there is a great deal of room for improvement. Electric cash handling, higher volume coin dispensing, better control and integration with other devices such as point-of-sale (POS) systems and CCTV are just a few improvements waiting to be made.

Grondahl: Tracking the cash is important. That’s why our Sentinel connects to the network and POS so the retailer is able to control every penny of every transaction and validate to the proper PIN or till number exactly what money is coming and going. The controls they wish to implement are totally up to the retailer so it is as broad as their imagination.

Purches: There’s a lot of room for improvement in the retail cash-handling arena, and a lot of great innovations on the way to make cash handling better, easier and more secure. For instance, we can offer accelerated funds availability. We’re already working with customers and banks, leveraging the advanced features of our safes to facilitate daily credit. We’ve also customized our new safes to ensure compliance with the Petroleum Convenience Alliance for Technology Standards (PCATS)—something that affects every convenience store. These advances make it easier to manage cash and to interface with back office and POS systems.

Repka: The future of the money handling/retail safe industry for retail customers is in interoperability and information management. They ask us now for equipment that connects to POS systems, back office and accounting software, and even video surveillance systems already in their stores. The potential for better, faster, more meaningful depository options is as big as any retailer’s desire and our engineers’ imaginations.

CSD: how does your company go about developing its various products?
Aronson: It’s about a customer ‘s needs. Not everyone wants or needs the most advanced technology. At the lowend, customers are seeking simplicity for their employees. They want higher capacity tube dispensing and a low-cost cash validating solution. At the high-end, customers are seeking ways to improve efficiency, remote management capability, flexibility of safe placement, higher capacity, return on investment and increased security for their employees. We continually invest in the NKL brand of safes to meet these needs.

Grondahl: We also develop according to the retailer’s needs. A good example is the development of our TACC (Timed Access Cash Control) safes. As we got more involved in development, we found that the tube systems were being used, but were far from ideal. We got together with oil companies in Europe and jointly designed the Sentinel BCD.

Mason: Brink’s develops products based on customer need from customer input. We look at changes in the market and opportunities that allow us to create better products. We test products with customers first to make sure our new products improve cash management, lower costs, increase security and save time—so managers can get back to the business of running their stores.

Vysma: Our approach is continually evolving, observing the obstacles retailers face—how the handling of cash effects their operations and the security of personnel, as well as the cumulative effects of rising banking and credit card fees. For AT Systems, CashLINK service and equipment is aimed at solving all the pains associated with in-store cash management.

CSD: What kind of options are available for smaller retailers who can’t afford high technology, but want more security than an oldfashioned safe can offer?
Aronson: Our McGunn Easy line of safes is the perfect answer for this category. McGunn Easy120 is a basic tubedispensing safe that is priced below the competition. The new McGunn Easy120V is a combination dispensing and validating safe that is value priced.

Grondahl: Our TACC comes in TACC Iia with no printer, no transaction logs and are focused on robbery prevention. For a little more, the TACC III brings in memory to track the last 48,000 transactions, software, printer and touch screen to track transactions by PIN. Retailers can balance at end of shift and end of day automatically on paper, but count the till and the money in the safe manually. We also have TACC V, which has all the features of the TACC III but adds a bill acceptor.

Purches: Even single-store owners and smaller retail locations find they can cost-justify Brink’s CompuSafe Service. CompuSafe Service is a closed-loop process—a comprehensive whole cash logistics service that helps manage cash from the POS to deposit.

Repka: A basic safe like our CS 7520 (dual bill validator) or CS 7510 (single bill validator) saves the average store manager three hours each day by taking cash management off his or her plate. Such equipment saves an additional hour per cashier per day and an average of an hour to an hour and a half of sales audit time (usually worked by the small storeowner) previously spent researching discrepancies and errors.

CSD: Finally, how do your safes and equipment help protect against both internal and external theft?
Aronson: Simply, our products protect against both internal and external theft

by reducing the exposure to cash. Our safes are designed to decrease (by varying degrees) the need for employees to physically handle cash.

Our NKL safes include remote management software that simply loads onto a PC and allows management to automatically poll all the safes in the system. This software also allows management to remotely add and delete users, change security parameters and run custom reports.

Grondahl: TACC allows only one tube or cup of cash to be dispensed. Then it goes into a time delay (15 seconds up to 10 minutes) as selected by the customer, reducing robbery. Sentinel is good for preventing internal theft due to its push/pull transactions working directly with a POS system. If a “skim” must be done, per the POS, the Sentinel makes sure the “skim” was done to the proper amount and reported back to the POS for each transaction. This prevents any out of balance situations. You can’t stop a $20 from going into a pocket, but we can guarantee it will easily be caught when closing.

Purches: With CompuSafe there’s only one cash touch point—when a cashier accepts cash from a customer and inserts it into the safe. It’s like taking cash handling out of the store and virtually eliminating exposure to both internal and external theft. The safes also provide simple-to-use reporting to help balance every cashier at every shift, so store managers would know right away if there were a problem and which cashier was involved.

Repka: Our CashLINK service basically eliminates that vulnerabil
ity. Store personnel no longer have to worry about counting drawers manually, and AT Systems guarantees the deposit from the moment it enters the safe. Opportunities for internal theft virtually disappear. AT Systems autosafes are dual-custody and our hardware is as secure as anything you will find in the market.


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