EPoS gives British Red Cross a full trading picture

Cybertill_Charity case study image When the British Red Cross (BRC) reviewed its retail operation in a bid to benefit from more cost-effective opportunities such as the reclaiming of Gift Aid on donations, it became apparent that the answer was to invest in a new electronic-point-of-sale (EPoS) system.

The telephone, fax and electronic till that BRC was currently using could not support the charity with the sales and management information as well as communication levels that it needed to move the business forward. Mike Picken, Retail EPoS Manager at BRC, explained: “It was very challenging to get any accurate management information from the shops that we could aggregate into a full trading picture.”

Alongside the daily operations of its 323 retail shops where both donated and bought-in goods are sold, BRC raises funds through campaigns and appeals to support its benevolent programmes. However, BRC’s shops and head office often worked in isolation with no immediate means of interaction with each other. “Shops had no access to our web site or intranet, and no means of quickly accessing information about our appeals,” Mike added and went on to say, “It was clear we would struggle to grow the business without concrete information on where we were and what needed changing.”

With Cybertill’s vast retail experience, affordable running costs and access to a wealth of live business data via the Cloud, BRC, one of the world’s longest-established and best-known humanitarian organisations could finally make the changes it required across the business and its network of shops.

Mike reports that BRC is now enjoying many benefits from Cybertill’s EPoS solution:Cybertill_Charity case study image2

•    Less paperwork – “We were able to get rid of most of the paperwork at shop level. All the basic information we need is now derived from the Cybertill system and it provides reports to drive the business forward.”

•    Unified operations – “Gone are the days of isolation. The link between shops and head office is now excellent. We can choose which shops we need to communicate with by region, or we can reach all shops; we then contact them in seconds with our message.” Mike added that also means the BRC can “launch an appeal within hours, not days, and be confident that every shop is aware of precisely what’s going on.” Mike explained how a recent appeal for the Haiti disaster was launched much more quickly and active within hours. As a result of the fast moving campaign, the BRC raised over £180,000 in just one day.

•    All-round communication – Internal messaging between head office and staff in shops, a highly resourceful intranet, and even advertising on customer receipts to keep them aware of promotions and appeals all help BRC to communicate more effectively.

•    One central system – Using Cybertill’s ‘managed service’ model, BRC can operate the entire business from one place rather than having a system in every shop. Mike added, “This seems to work fine for us. We produce a phenomenal amount of data and we’re now upgrading our 3rd party software to cope with all the data coming off the central server.”

•    Generation proof solution – Despite many of BRC’s staff and volunteers not being computer literate, the EPoS system from Cybertill makes for a smooth changeover. “The transition from the old till to the new one was quite a jump for many of our shop staff. But, with good training, we got it right for our shop managers, our field staff and our volunteers. The initial resistance soon melted away and, now that staff are familiar with the system, they find it absolutely fine to use,” Mike reported.

•    Gift Aid processing – According to Cybertill BRC has rolled-out Gift Aid functionality for donated goods to enable the charity to claim tax back on shop sales, and BRC estimated this alone will raise an additional £500,000 each year. “There are manual Gift Aid systems available, but by using one integrated within our till system, we have a much simpler way of managing this, and one which is demonstrably growing the business,” said Mike.

•    Improved stock management – Mike commented that before Cybertill, “We had no way of seeing who needed what. Now we can see where the stock is, what’s selling and what isn’t. We have the facilities to easily transfer goods from one shop to another, and to order new stock from the warehouse.” He added, “We can now also do proper stock-takes. For the first time, we have accurate, real-time data on our stockholding. We know what we have, what its value is and we can assess shrinkage.” Mike continued, “Using system-generated intelligence, the team can identify good and poor sellers, and either get them out of the business or introduce price reductions. Before, we just sent out set quantities to each shop. Now the shops can order smaller amounts and then reorder as and when needed.” Mike also reported cost improvements and said, “This is particularly the case for bought-in goods, our sales would not have increased as they have and stockholding would have remained high with more money tied up without Cybertill to guide us.”

•    Business development – The EPoS system from Cybertill is very much a part of BRC’s business growth plan; the reports tool is of particular use when making business decisions regarding product pricing, sales floor displays and stock management. Mike concludes that, “Our EPoS system is so well regarded that it has been submitted for one of our coveted in-house Excellence Awards. It is so easily scalable and will grow with our business, that we believe it is the best solution to help us grow too.”

Want to find out more about Cybertill’s EPoS system? Read our supplier interview.