Cybertill talks of seamless retail channel management

cybertill-logoIn 2001, Ian Tomlinson, Founder of Cybertill recognised retailers’ needs for an internet based electronic point of sale (EPOS) solution, as it would help them manage their stores and ecommerce sites collectively. He made the decision to move away from traditional systems and delivered the world’s first cloud based EPOS system.

Adrian Mills, Marketing Manager of four years at Cybertill, tells us just what it’s got going for it and how it’s managed to corner a section of the EPOS market with 5,000 sites and more than 600 customers.

For Cybertill delivering the solution over the internet was an obvious choice, as internet shopping was beginning to take off.  Hence for a retailer the ability to see their businesses performance in real time with an overview of all sales and stock movements, through all channels, whilst on the move, was a key driver in opting for cloud technology.

Cybertill originally targeted independent retailers, but its product soon caught the eye of larger multiple retailers that had cottoned on to the benefits of cloud-based software. Today Cybertill has a mix of single store retailers and large national chains, some with over 500 shops, using the system.

The reason for its vast and varied customer reach lies in the fact that Cybertill offers a modular package solution of EPOS, ecommerce and mail order that can run in-store, online and over the phone. Customers can literally access the elements they require. The most popular is a combined EPOS and ecommerce system. Although Cybertill also offers the flexibility of linking to existing ecommerce sites.

The product has evolved; initially it targeted cycle retailers but quickly moved on to other sectors including fashion and footwear. Cybertill now offers solutions adapted for a wide array of retail sectors including: furniture, sports, giftware and many more including charity stores where there is a particular demand for systems that can manage gift aid.

When asked what Cybertill’s customers are looking for from an EPOS system, Adrian told us that real time analysis and seeing stock perform live is always the thing that blows them away. “They love sitting with their phone and watching sales go through as they happen,” he said.

To illustrate his point further, Adrian told us of a sports store customer that was in the US at a trade show, and because they could demonstrate sales in real time, and highlight historic sales they were able to negotiate a better price from the supplier. And, also of another time in a shoe store where a particularly large sale went through while a manager was watching online. The manager rang the store to check the sale was accurate and on hearing that it was, she was able on congratulate the store person on the sale.

We asked Adrian what he thinks Cybertill’s unique selling point is and he put it into four words: ‘seamless retail channel management’. He clarified in more detail, “It’s more than being cloud based now, as there are a lot of companies out there offering cloud solutions, but we also have the largest estate of retailers and the most proven system. It’s critical for retailers to be able to sell through any channel so that the customer can choose how they want to buy. The omni-channel approach is what Cybertill offers; one product file and one customer database that everyone can use to gain access to customer history. With this retailers can offer a seamless service that is straightforward and simple”.

Cybertill offers a lot of niche solutions that work by taking a full retail solution and adding an extra functionality that lends itself to a particular sector. For example, with the charity their need for a gift aid solution. Adrian explains, “The charity store solution works extremely well. In fact, 1 in 3 of the UK’s charity stores uses our system including the British Red Cross.” He adds that “cloud based solutions are ideal for them as many don’t have the IT resource that high street retailers take for granted. Cloud is also particularly good for hospice stores that need to keep their customer databases very secure and therefore don’t want anything touching their servers.”

mobile-posIn addition to the charity niche Cybertill has several other customer types where the cloud is proving to work well. A national jewellery chain was attracted to the idea of having mobile point of sale (MPOS) that can be activated at peak times. For example, when Christmas time comes rather than installing more tills, the store can use an ipad to serve customers quickly and queue bust.

On the subject of MPOS Adrian commented, “Mobile point of sale is a big selling point for retailers. Virgin Media have just trialed it in their flagship store and now are looking at further roll outs.” “Another great way to use MPOS is at shows or events. Our customers take an ipad and manage stock control, process sales, take customer details as if they were in store. With MPOS you can literally take your store wherever you are,“ he added.

Of course no solution comes without its challenges and when asked what customer requirements have proven to be the most challenging for Cybertill, Adrian said that installing Cybertill across one customer’s estate of 555 stores in just three months whilst training their thousands of volunteers. This was for Cancer Research who’s main objective from deploying Cybertill is to claim £18m in gift aid in just five years.

So what’s next for Cybertill? Although Adrian didn’t like to spill the beans on the company’s next technology investment and plans for product development, he did tell us what he predicts for the future technology requirements of Cybertill’s clients, “All retailers need to manage all strands of their business cohesively as well being able to analyse all the data that is flowing through their business to make it leaner and more competitive”.