South African merchants will ring up billions of rand in sales over the Black Friday period, now second to the festive season as a major event on the annual retail calendar.

This brings along with it the annual challenge of storing, securing and depositing large volumes of cash for retail business owners, most who would prefer to focus their energies on driving sales and serving their customers.

“With more than 50% of consumer transactions (in rand) completed with notes and coins, according to the Payments Association of SA – cash is still king in South Africa,” says Mark Templemore-Walters, operations director at Cash Connect.

“During peak trading seasons like Black Friday and the Festive Season, automated cash management solutions shine at driving business efficiencies and reducing costs for merchants.”

He offers four simple ways that automated cash management solutions can benefit small and medium sized businesses:

* Automated cash management is more cost-effective than managing notes and coins manually – In-store cash and Cash-in-Transit (CIT) insurance, cash shrinkage, deposit fees, back-office and cash counting supervision costs quickly add up. For a retail store that trades 30 days a month, employs a daily Cash-in-Transit service from Monday to Saturday and banks a monthly total of R2 million in cash, these and other cash management costs could top R30,000 a month. A fully automated, end-to-end cash management service with a secure cash vault will cost around R15,000 a month–a saving of nearly 50%.

* Immediate risk transfer – An important element of an automated cash management solution, is a robust cash vault that ensures merchants can operate in a safe and secure trading environment. This is like having a bank in the store. Once the merchant deposits its cash into the cash vault, there is an immediate transfer of risk, and the merchant’s funds are guaranteed with a same day settlement into its bank account.

* Real-time access to cash flow – An automated cash management solution not only provides secure storage of cash, but also helps merchants to manage and improve their cash flow. With an Instant Access facility, merchants can access their cash whilst still in their cash vault. If merchants need to make an urgent payment for a delivery of stock for example, but their cash is still in their vault and the cash in transit service provider hasn’t collected their cash yet, access to their cash real-time is just a click away. Instant Access gives merchants access to the cash in their vault, whenever they need it.

* Increased business efficiency – Automated cash management is fast and accurate. More importantly, automated cash management will save a merchant time and money as it eliminates all staff touch points associated with manual reconciliations and banking, counting, shrinkage and double-count supervision. This back-office counting role automatically becomes redundant and employees can focus on tasks that add real value, rather than on counting money or standing in bank queues.

An added benefit is that merchants can have access to trading capital based on the cash and card volumes of the store. As cash flow is the lifeblood of a retail business, quick access to hassle-free finance for retail merchants is crucial – this allows them to buy stock or to make bulk purchases at discounted rates.

Templemore-Walters concludes: “An automated cash management solution is a must for any merchant who wants to improve cash flow, streamline cash management and take business efficiency to the next level.”