Gunnebo’s SafePay™ is a unique closed cash-handling system that makes it easier, less expensive and a lot safer to handle cash in the retail environment. Easily integrated into existing EPOS systems, SafePay™ allows retailers to continue to accept cash as payment, but without it being exposed in the store or handled by employees. SafePay™ offers intelligent security, protecting against robbery and theft, eliminating unexplained cash discrepancies and saving time in the back office. SafePay™ is one of a portfolio of World Class retail security solutions from Gunnebo that are making working life safer and more secure for store staff across Europe. The Grocery Trader went to Bedford to visit Gunnebo’s UK office to find out more.
If you’ve been to Scandinavia in recent months and visited an ICA supermarket or Swedish Coop store, you’ll be familiar with SafePay™’s good-looking, clean lines. SafePay™ was developed by Gunnebo in Sweden in 2003 and was first used by grocery retailers in Scandinavia. Having assimilated the lessons from Sweden, Denmark and Norway, with their different coins and notes, the group’s next step was to go into the Euro Zone and from there move into the UK.
The team responsible for marketing SafePay™ here are Martin Houseman, Gunnebo UK Country Manager, Jamie Barton, Gunnebo UK Business Development Manager for Retail Automation, covering Gunnebo’s Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) range and SafePay™, and Rob Biggs, the UK technology specialist for SafePay™, who works closely with Gunnebo’s central operations in Gothenburg.
Martin Houseman has day-to-day responsibility for Gunnebo’s UK operation, which turns over £35 million annually, and has 200 employees, of which 70 are service engineers. It provides a unique suite of highly integrated security solutions for retail, banks and site protection. Site protection accounts for 40% of UK turnover, and banking and retailing 30% each, but Martin says retail, led by SafePay™, has the biggest overall growth potential. Gunnebo’s UK retail sales team includes specialist account managers who are dedicated to specific retail customers and have an intuitive understanding of retailers’ needs.
Gunnebo – putting security first
Gunnebo as a group has a 760 million Euro turnover, and is publicly quoted on the Stockholm stock exchange. The group is focused on security-related business, and its other established brands besides SafePay™ include Chubbsafes, Elkosta, Rosengrens and Gateway. Gunnebo also sells Electronic Article Surveillance equipment, cash office equipment, security doors and ATM security enclosures. Other security measures regularly provided for retailers across Europe include vehicle entry gates and fencing, entrance control, and secure access for staff.
In 2006, Gunnebo’s operations were reconfigured to create one customer-facing company per country. Gunnebo has 17 factories around the world: the SafePay™ equipment sold here is made in Sweden, Germany and the UK.
The SafePay™ story
The SafePay™ concept came from a conversation with the security manager of a Swedish/Danish store chain, as Martin recalls: “Our client said he wanted a system that meant the money was collected when the man delivered the milk. He didn’t want to be involved with cash handling, and didn’t have the structure in his stores for the staff to handle money. He also wanted the cash handling system to be centralised so as not to distract staff, with a closed loop to remove any cash exposure.
“Our first customer was ICA, the Swedish supermarket chain. They were very enthusiastic about the system’s potential and agreed to be the pilot stores. There are now more than 1,600 systems installed in Scandinavia.”
In the Euro Zone, Germany is a big adopter of SafePay™, as food discounters there are more established and money handling in retail is more automated. France has a similar retail environment to us, with big hypermarkets and greater emphasis on personal service, so their adoption of SafePay™ has taken a little longer, but is growing now.
Gunnebo introduced SafePay™ in the UK in 2006 at the Retail Security Show and is about to start its first installation here, says Martin:
“We’ve been close to this for a long time: as we understand it, the UK retail market has particular questions about the various competing technology formats and has been waiting to see if SafePay™ emerges as the VHS or the Betamax before committing to it. There is a strong desire among store chains to go to self service self-pay: after experience with various systems, retailers appreciate the realities of self-service payment and appreciate that removing tags and authorisation issues related to alcohol sales impacts on the transaction process.”
As opinion formers, the UK police forces, the British Retail Consortium and the cash in transit companies are all very positive about SafePay™: “The overwhelming perception is that SafePay™, being a security product, delivers not only significant security advantages but also process benefits, because it is based on cash recycling technology. With self service you lose the personal touch and the interaction during the scanning and paying, which shoppers here still want.”
The UK SafePay™ installations will be Gunnebo UK Business Development Manager Jamie Barton’s baby when they go live: “We’re close to the first implementations with a large retailer, a nationwide roll out across a mixed estate of superstores and c-stores,” he confirms. “They are attracted by the overall SafePay™ rationale – it instantly reduces counter staff’s exposure to robbery, because there’s no access to cash. SafePay™ introduces total cash control, and a level of security much greater than achievable through other processes.”
Cash transactions are now growing across Europe, says Jamie: “There’s more cash circulating than ever, and we’re no closer to seeing the end of cash than ten years ago. As the UK’s economic fortunes go through a shaky phase, people are reverting to cash and avoiding credit cards: in some c-stores, seventy percent of takings are cash. The other foundation stone of SafePay™ is, it reduces shrinkage to nil – you can’t defraud SafePay™!” The other key point is that SafePay™ is a significant infrastructure investment: “If you invest, you buy hundreds,” says Jamie.
The first stage in Gunnebo’s customer conversations regarding SafePay™ is the Return On Investment (ROI) calculation. During our visit, Martin Houseman showed a video testimony from Swedish Coop Group’s Security Manager Petrus Bohlin, who has followed his own crusade about SafePay™’s value as a security product.
In the video Petrus quotes a payback for SafePay™ of just 15 months, based purely on the security savings – the cost of the crime that is eliminated with SafePay™, not the resulting process savings. Petrus says that in value terms cash loss is the smallest cost factor in any robbery – the rest is staff trauma and disruption, ruined kit, and damage to the shop. Many customers won’t return for a long time afterwards, so there’s up to 50% downturn for months. The average total cost of a robbery is £15-20,000.
“Once you install SafePay™,” says Martin Houseman, “if there’s a robbery it only happens once, because they know next time they will leave with nothing.”
SafePay™ – Simplicity itself
SafePay™ is beautifully simple, as Rob Biggs, UK Safepay™ technology specialist, demonstrates. As soon as the cashier starts scanning, the customer starts putting coins and notes in, in any denomination, and gets change in the highest denomination. It removes the time pressure for the customer.
As Rob observes, “With SafePay™ the cashier has no access to cash. They don’t have to think about money, check notes are genuine or, in the worst case, be suspected of fraud. Shop managers like SafePay™ as it engages their employees with customers and removes suspicion.” The term coin recycling is totally appropriate: over time, as the coins are recycled the system gets close to coin neutrality.
As Martin Houseman explains, the SafePay™ hardware can be installed to fit any checkout in a supermarket or a convenience store, alongside existing EPOS equipment. The coin and note recycler units sit on the counter top: the coin recycler has a secure coin housing underneath, in which the coins are recycled. The note recycler holds the notes on a rotating drum, which feeds them into a cassette that is emptied at the end of each day. In the UK the carousel is configured to deposit £20s and £10s, but keep a good working level until commanded to drop down to the pre-determined float level.
The SafePay™ cassettes are either Intelligent Deposit Units (IDU), Secure Deposit Unit (SDU) – with ink dye protection, or standard Deposit Units (DU.) “The IDU is a smart piece of kit that ‘knows’ what’s in it,” says Rob. “The store staff members take the cassette to the Cash Transfer Unit (CTU) and plug it in. The CTU deposits the cash into a tamper-evident bag, which the Cash In Transit (CIT) service collects.
“Depending on the retailer’s policy, the CIT service can have access to the CTU and monitor how much cash is in it, so they can plan their own collections, saving the store management’s time and money”
The SafePay™ Control (SPC) application can be installed on the server in head offices, and within client locations at branch level. The head office can view the picture at any store at any time, giving a variety of information including the status of each unit, and a full picture of the store’s coin and note transactions and cash position at any time and a detail analysis in end of day reports.
Gunnebo’s other SafePay™ system is Secure Cash Logistics (SCL.) Originally developed for a Danish retailer, this is now being marketed in Europe. Forgoing the requirement for a cash transfer unit, with SCL the Cassette deposits money within the SafePay™ system’s “closed loop” and puts it automatically into a secure cash container in a secure area: the CIT company comes with an empty cash case and collects the full one, speeding up the operation, with no need to empty the safe.
SafePay™’s other advantage for c-stores is that it enables hot tilling. In many environments it can be a big problem to know who is stealing, but with SafePay™ staff log on and off with no doubt or uncertainty. The saving in man-hours depends on retailers’ individual processes, but SafePay™ will save on staff in the cash office, and in the front of house allows people to be deployed more effectively in ‘value-adding’ activities.
“SafePay™ gives you the cradle to grave cash security system our Danish security manager wanted,” says Martin Houseman. “It doesn’t just reduce shrink, it stops it dead.”
Putting it in place
SafePay™ speeds up the overall transaction process, says Martin. “From our time and motion research in Holland, SafePay™ cuts cash tendering time by up to half and reduces queues. Every second saved at the till puts two million pounds on the bottom line, according to one supermarket.”
SafePay™ automatically detects and rejects counterfeit notes and coins. Accepted notes and coins are reprogrammed centrally, as new currency comes in.
SafePay™ systems can be monitored for note jams or cleaning at three main access levels: the store, the CIT company or Gunnebo. “It’s much more sophisticated technology than a car park ticket machine, but it’s still a machine,” says Martin. If it jams, the cashier presses the reject spike and the coins or notes are returned. SafePay™ coin recyclers need servicing every 12 months or 100,000 coins.
SafePay™ units are designed to ‘Plug in and Play’, and take just a couple of hours’ work per till for Gunnebo’s team to install. “We don’t sell SafePay™ through partners,” says Jamie Barton, “but we do link up with other vendors as require on mixed technology solutions.”
SafePay™ – the way forward
The final part of any trip to Gunnebo UK to see SafePay™ in action is a visit to their formidable demonstration area. Among the items on display are an attack-proof modular cash office and Gunnebo’s ballistic-resistant CityWall ATM enclosures. Martin Houseman shows how the SafePay™ cash transfer unit (CTU) works, a simple matter of removing the IDU from the till installation and attaching it to the CTU. The CTU’s data transfer function shows the notes going in, taking less than a minute to transfer 150 notes.
Martin and colleagues are poised for SafePay™ to take off in Britain: “Many customers across Europe have invested in SafePay™ to date, including the Coop throughout Scandinavia and many major European retailers. As SafePay™ becomes widely adopted in the UK retail environment, our activities in this area will step up a notch.
“There’s no quick fix with secure cash handling – this equipment needs to be tried and tested before the customer puts their trust in it, and ours has been substantially proven. SafePay™ is far out in front, with its proven pedigree that comes from being in use in the field for several years and its uniqueness as the only totally closed in-store coin and note recycling system with a back office capability.
“We’re quite fortunate to be at the end of the currency queue in the UK, because we have a very stable platform for the SafePay™ hardware, which has been integrated successfully with most EPOS systems, so our forthcoming UK installations will benefit.”