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What are the major challenges retailers face in the back office?

The retail industry may be on the cusp of a long-term sales boost, and technology such as dual purpose cash and check scanners may make all the difference in allowing managers to fully prepare for this growth.

According to The Wall Street Journal, consumer spending continued a steady upward trend last month. Citing data from the U.S. Commerce Department, the newspaper reported that overall retail sales climbed 0.2 percent in December. In fact, many U.S. households ended 2013 on a relatively strong note compared to previous years, which is a major indicator that 2014 might offer even further economic growth.

Such an expansion would largely come as positive news for the retail industry. However, a growth in sales volume may lead to a variety of unexpected back office challenges. A report published by Bank of America said managing large quantities of cash and checks on a daily basis is already one of the major obstacles to business growth. Here is a closer look into why that is:

Cash and checks are still a major part of sales
Even though most American consumers have embraced electronic payment methods, general growth in the volume of retail transactions still means most stores will be handling a large amount of cash and checks every day. Similarly, many people overestimate the widespread nature of electronic transaction technology. According to the BoA report, 43 percent of U.S. residents still do not own a credit card. As a result, store owners may not be fully prepared to count cash or process checks in a way that doesn't negatively impact overall productivity.

Manual processes are inherently inefficient
It doesn't help that many of these businesses are already trying to do more with less. Without advanced tools such as dual purpose cash and check scanners, the process of manually counting money every day can lead to operational inefficiencies. Especially if sales are expected to grow in the coming months, managers simply can't afford to spend hours in the back office performing tasks that could otherwise be completed in minutes.

Slow cash and check management leads to safety issues
Processing currency faster and more accurately also has major implications for overall financial security. The BoA report emphasized the fact that when large sums of cash or checks sit idle for long periods of time, businesses often run the risk of losing out on long-term growth opportunities. Instead, stores can use technology to reduce the time it takes to count money or deposit checks and turn it into capital.

January 31, 2014