Cash plays a crucial role in retail payments.

The European Payments Council state that cash is still the first method of retail payment in several European countries, though its share among retail payments is decreasing.

Despite this, the UK witnessed a notable surge in the total number of cash payments in 2022. £6.4 billion GBP was spent, compared to the previous year’s £6 billion, according to UK Finance.

Cash management, including cash handling tasks, should still be a priority for most retail businesses.

Developing a good cash management process and a cash handling solution using automated cash management technology can have a big impact on this.

Let’s take a closer look at what effective cash management entails.

What is cash management?

Cash management refers to the handling and managing of physical currency, especially within business settings. It includes activities involving coins and notes such as:

All of these processes need to be done securely, efficiently and accurately in order to prevent fraud and avoid cash discrepancies.
Its goal is to securely maintain the right amount of cash in store at any given time. Having too little or too much cash can cause problems for both employees and customers.

What is cash handling?

Cash handling is the physical part of cash management. I.e., any time a human (or machine) has to handle and store cash.

Cash management vs cash handling vs cashflow management

Cash managementcash handling and cashflow management are three different but complimentary areas.

Cash management relates to the management of physical cash. This includes cash handling plus the planning, recording, and analysing activities around it.

Cash flow management, by contrast, refers to monitoring, analysing, and improving the movement of capital (not necessarily physical cash) for organizations.
In other words, cash flow management includes cash management, which includes cash handling. So, improving any one of these areas can have a positive influence on the other two.

‘Cash management’ and ‘cashflow management’ are often used interchangeably

Whilst cash management and cash flow management are different concepts, they are both often used interchangeably.

This can be interpreted in two ways:

  • This misuse is so frequent that most people won’t notice it. It is akin to when people mix up terms such as compliment (to complete or improve) and complement (to praise)
  • The term is context-dependent

In this article we are discussing it in relation to managing physical cash.

Aspects of cash management

1. Cash acceptance

Point of sale (POS) systems streamline varies transactions, including cash payments.

They enable stores to accept cash whilst automatically calculating costs, producing receipts and (if integrated well) updating inventories.

Their cash registers also securely store cash and can keep transaction records and analytics.

Refilling cash registers

Managing cash in a store involves checking the amount of cash and different denominations in each cash register at any given moment. It’s important that there is not too much or too little of it.

It often requires employees to be aware of their registers as they are accepting cash. Delays in these checks and refills can damage customer experience.

2. Cash counting

Cash counting can refer to the manual process done at POS in stores or larger scale counts done at the end of working days, weeks, months or even randomly.

The second type often used to involve manually handling cash to count it. But, beyond a certain scale, this is time-consuming and is open to human errors.

So, today, most medium and large businesses use machines for quick, error-free counts. This can be done with traditional cash counting machines or even coin counting scales (machines that weigh money in order to count it).

3. Record-keeping

Detailed and accurate record-keeping is essential for cash management. It includes keeping cash logs (records of incoming and outgoing cash transactions), cash receipts, discrepancy reports, and more.

Accounting software can help businesses in the industry keep a clear paper trail for accounting due diligence.

And there are a number of best practices to implement around keeping these records. These include using employees’ signatures, noting the serial numbers of notes, and more.

4. Security

Protecting cash involves secure storage, surveillance, protocol and more. In order to achieve this, a cash handling policy with strict cash handling procedures need to be put in place. This helps protect against external and internal theft.

Examples of security measures that can help include limiting access to handle cash to just a few personnel and random cash register audits.

Smart safes

A smart safe is a safe for securing and monitoring cash. Unlike regular safes, they are fitted with technology for ‘smart’ functions such as cash validation, counting, and monitoring.

Businesses that use them can track how much cash they have at any given time as well as who has accessed them and when.


Transportation is a part of the security aspect of the cash handling process. It can be outsourced to cash-in-transit (CIT) companies who hold responsibility and liability for cash security whilst they are moving it.

5. Reporting and analytics

There are number of different ways in which cash management can be reported and analysed.

Different retail businesses might favour different performance metrics. This could include, for example:

  • Cash reconciliation rate
  • Average transaction time
  • Discrepancies per shift

These can be analysed against other trends to help optimise the cash handling process, employee training and employee allocation.

Cash management in retail

Although the fundamentals of cash management are similar across many industries, managing cash in the retail industry is unique for several reasons.

High transactions volumes

The relatively high volume of transactions.

There will be an estimated $32.8 trillion USD dollars in retail transactions by 2026. About 1/5 of this is eCommerce, so the rest (the majority) are in-store. And approximately 20% of these in-store payments – in the UK for example – are made with cash.

Seasonality and sales

Averages don’t always tell the whole picture. A retail business might make most of its money during certain peak periods. So, capabilities for dealing with peak cash handling requirements are essential for maximising sales.

High employee turnover

Retail has a relatively high staff turnover. According to a 2023 report by the British Retail Consortium, the average turnover rate in the UK retail industry currently stands at over 50%.

This has significant implications for several aspects of cash management, including:

  • Efficiency and accuracy of cash management in retail store. New employees will likely be inexperienced with retail businesses’ specific retail cash management system, cash handling procedures, etc.
  • Employee training requirements. The frequency of training needs to keep up with the high levels of new workers.
  • Security. More individuals having access to cash handling process can unfortunately equate to more risk of internal theft.

Effective cash management principles for retail

1. Cash management policy

Having a clear cash management policy can help employees understand effective cash handling.

A business could, for example, ensure a till float (amount of cash in the register) of a precise amount suited to given days. This could mean double the amount is floated at weekends or during sales periods.

Related security measures should be similarly outlined. Cash counting and reconciliation might take place daily with two employees present at all times. However, perhaps during busy periods extra staff are involved.

2. Employee training

Employee training can ensure staff members are equipped with the necessary skills to handle cash well. It can also help identify and correct bad cash handling habits.

There are a range of different trainings to choose from. These might include:

  • Cash handling skills, such as money counting
  • Security-related skills, such as counterfeit detection training
  • Software training
  • Customer service training
  • Cash forecasting and budgeting – this can be particularly helpful for the management team

And more.

3. Automation

Automation can transform cash management in stores. It can take place in a number of areas of the cash management process, including:

  • Receiving cash (with self-service checkouts)
  • Counterfeit checking
  • Cash counting

A good cash management system can also be integrated with other accounting and inventory software. This can ensure register refills, bank deposits, and other manual processes are handled with precision.

PayComplete’s cash management solutions

PayComplete Connect is our powerful SaaS platform for providing next-level retail services.

It helps businesses build self-service options that streamline in-store operations, delight customers, and empower data-driven decisions.

Unite your physical transactions across kiosks, self-checkout, traditional POS, and cash recyclers under one intuitive platform. And automate routine tasks, minimise queues, and free up staff for deeper customer engagement.

Gain real-time visibility into your operational performance. Analyse trends, optimize resource allocation, and make informed decisions that propel your business forward.


Cash still matters. With the right tactics and tools, stores can significantly improve their cash management.

How they accept, verify, store, count, and record cash has an impact on the service they provide customers and the security they enjoy.

Analytics, automation, policies, and training all contribute to improving the overall standard of cash management for stores.

Restricted access to cash compartments and surprise audits are just two of many measures that can defend against internal and external fraud.
The benefits of improving cash management for retail are undeniable:

  • Faster service
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Less time wrestling with bills
  • Higher security levels

The solutions to improving in all of these areas can be specific to different businesses. With the right cash management knowledge, processes, and technology, it can be achieved.

Cash Management for Retail Stores