The British Heart Foundation (BHF), the nation's pioneering heart charity, has improved the management of its sales transactions and transformed the way it gathers and uses data, following the implementation of The Retail Suite from Itim, a leading provider of retail systems, across its 600+ store estate.
The new system, rolled out over 12 weeks, provides BHF with a much more efficient way of processing sales transactions and gives more detailed information via the browser-based Itim solution so that BHF can drive sales growth, reduce costs and improve efficiency.
Steve Biddle, Head of Finance for BHF's Retail Division, said, "Our stores staff find the system easy to use and the EPoS has an intuitive touch screen. Itim has also provided a sophisticated support process with calls usually answered within 20 seconds."
At head office, The Retail Suite gives BHF greater control, as sales data is now real-time. Biddle explained, "This helps us prevent errors and, also, any issues are flagged up immediately. For example, if there are a large number of refunds put through close together, it may mean there are training issues. As the solution interfaces with our management information system, we are now able to make more informed business decisions. We are very happy with the quality of information we now have, and the level of control, and will shortly have the ability to measure the success of promotional campaigns."
The next phase of the project will include the automation of paperwork and administration within the organisation. "We have a lot of paper-based processes around the company; for example, we send at least three bulletins out to our stores each month, which is a big manual operation, as a team needs to print out a huge amount of paper, collate and post it" Biddle said. "The Retail Suite will enable us to fully automate the process, which we could never have done before, and I estimate that we'll cut out 90% of the paperwork. I'm confident that the system will provide a highly effective communication tool."
"We selected Itim from a competitive shortlist, as we felt they could provide us with good support, and we like the team. They put forward a very compelling and competitive case. We worked to an aggressive rollout timeframe to 600+ stores and, bearing in mind that it was crucial we didn't interrupt our data flow, it was a very ambitious project. The project was delivered on schedule, despite very difficult weather conditions, and full credit must be given to both teams," Biddle concluded.
Biddle added, "Before implementing Itim's Retail Suite, the tills we were using were basic, EPOS tills with limited software functionality. We could see the sale amount by PLU code and transaction, and whether it was a cash or card payment. This meant we could only get hold of quite basic data in terms of merchandising, stock control and finance - which was fed into our head office system overnight - and was the source of our transactional data used to analyse trading performance, but we needed much more information to support our growing business."
The old system that BHF was running wasn't linked to its accounting system, and individual stores had to spend at least two hours compiling manual returns from the till reports (receipts etc). Biddle continued, "Not only was this process time-consuming and labour-intensive but, also, prone to error due to the nature of the manual process. Our accounts department then had to take time to scrutinise the returns and look for any discrepancies. Now the data comes through, as the transactions happen, which allows our team to manage the process much more effectively and efficiently."
Before implementing The Retail Suite, transactional data was polled to head office overnight. Often this data didn't come through due to polling issues, and often, in the weekly trading update meetings, information from 30 stores or more would be missing. "We now have a vastly improved and resilient communication channel and as there hasn't been any manual intervention, we can rely on the information being correct. It allows for much better business decisions and, in this respect, The Retail Suite is a very quick and resilient solution," said Biddle.
Ali Athar, Chief Executive Officer, Itim, said, "BHF is already reaping the benefits of The Retail Suite and we are now working on delivering the next phase. In such a challenging market, it's crucial that retailers have the best possible tools available to help them make informed business decisions, and it's clear that Itim, with The Retail Suite, has delivered this."