Customer Success Stories
About Dove House Hospice
Dove House Hospice was formed in 1979 under the guise of Societies of Beverley and Hull Friends, it was dedicated to create a place for the incurably sick in a loving atmosphere. Today Dove House Hospice is an integral health provider in the region and it raises funds through its charity retail, lottery and other activities. Dove House currently has 31 retail shops in the Hull and Beverly area.
“We had an EPoS system in eight shops prior to Cybertill. But it could not manage our stock and the back end reporting was limited. The bottom line was it did not make a difference to the management of the retail department,”
Marisa Haines, Retail Division Manager at Dove House
Prior to installing Cybertill Dove House trialled an EPoS system in eight of their 31 stores, but due to limitations of the product it became a glorified till. “We had an EPoS system in eight shops prior to Cybertill. But it could not manage our stock and the back end reporting was limited. The bottom line was it did not make a difference to the management of the retail department,” comments Marisa Haines, Retail Division Manager at Dove House. In addition to that Dove House had implemented a manual way of reclaiming gift aid, but this too had limited success, as Marissa explains. “It helped us prove the concept of gift aid as it generated additional funds. At the same time we encountered serious issues with it. The gift aid provider made a commission charge on our earnings and this was resented to some extent by volunteers and workers. In that the harder they worked the more money someone else was earning as they were creaming off their work, so it became difficult to motivate the workforce. In addition to that it was manual system and to manage it we needed their stationery. The ongoing annual costs of the stationery, for us, were around £10,000, on top of the upfront costs which too amounted to thousands of pounds. So these costs drastically reduced our earning potential on gift aid.”
Throughout trialling the previous EPoS system Dove House’s retail estate was constantly growing and in 12 years it has risen to 31. “As the number of shops was increasing we wanted to be more scientific and get the right products to the right stores, rather than every store replicating one another,” explains Marisa. Dove House’s IT and Retail departments worked together in the search for a new EPoS provider. “Having our own IT department, we knew that we could source our own hardware. Cybertill allowed us the flexibility to do that, with other providers there wasn’t that flexibility,” comments Marisa. In addition to that there was some key advantages from the IT team’s perspective, as Andy Dinsdale, IT manager highlights. “Because Cybertill is web based the data is not on our servers, and is off site, that brought peace of mind, as we are not holding any data so there is no security risk at Dove House. Again, as it is web based there is no software on the till, so if there is a problem with the till hardware I can just swap a spare machine over. Five minutes in the shop and they are up and running again. And with Cybertill we get regular updates free of charge, unlike some other providers we looked at.”
Controlling Stock on Traded Goods
Dove House has benefited from the real time nature of Cybertill, as it has been able to implement stock control on bought in goods throughout its retail estate alongwith a more proactive approach to merchandising the stores themselves. “With Cybertill’s charity EPoS system it is live information, with other EPoS systems you are waiting until you can poll at night to see how the shops have done. We can run a report now and see exactly where the business is, for example with traded goods (the goods we buy in),” comments Andy. From a retail management point of view Cybertill has transformed how Dove House manages its retail arm, as Marisa explains. “Stock control is huge, especially on traded goods, we know what they are selling and when. Prior to Cybertill with new goods we did not really know what they had sold until we did a stock take. Where now I can look at the system and if a shop is selling something well and another isn’t we can get it transferred immediately. Rather than wait three months and say ‘you’ve done really well on those,’ but then there is nothing you can do its history. Through the reports generated in Cybertill we are now removing departments from shops, as they now cater for their customers needs. So we are looking at sales in a mainstream retail way. We used to churn out the charity shops, in that 40% of the shop floor was ladies wear, 20% menswear and so on. There are some shops that do really well with children’s wear and nursery goods and others it just doesn’t sell whatever price you put it at, so we remove that department. So now we are looking at maximising the sales per foot in each shop, whereas before we did not have the information.”
No More Missed Gift Aid Sales with Advanced Gift Aid
Dove House has recently introduced Cybertill’s Advanced Gift Aid solution in its stores. With Advanced Gift Aid instead of sales being processed at the till by entering the price from the tag and then scanning the barcode for the gift aid donor, Cybertill has developed a unique solution. This involves a single barcode that contains the product and the donor ID. So the till operator simply scans the barcode and this enters the item details, the price and the donor ID in one scan. As a result this ensures complete accuracy of price, product, category and of course gift aid donor as well speeding up the transaction times to High Street levels. This is credited with introducing retail best practice and discipline throughout its retail process.
“Advanced Gift Aid enables you to speed up the process at the till, as all stock has a barcode attached. It means we never miss a gift aid sale, or have a price go through incorrectly, and nobody can change prices on the tickets. I know before we were missing some gift aid sales so I am confident this will increase how much we claim. It also has a knock on effect to other best practices. And from the volunteers point of view they absolutely love this, it so simple for them. Now, it’s like playing shops, they are in Tesco’s and zapping everything and they love it,” comments Marisa.
Automating Gift Aid
With Cybertill the shops don’t have to do process anything for gift aid sales, whereas before with the manual system, when the shops closed they would spend their time completing paperwork. “Now when the shops close at 4.30 the managers have finished cashing up two minutes later. Because it is so quick and easy it gives them time for doing their job of managing a business. So they can look at the sales report and see what they are selling on the shop floor, do they need stock from the warehouse. They can plan a sales promo, a shop move, look at sales per foot, merchandising and so forth that’s what they get paid to do not count money and fill in paper sheets.”
Greater Retail Understanding
Dove House credits Cybertill’s charity retail system with helping to make their retail managers more commercially aware. Part of this is through the training they received on the sales reports so they are able to analyse their shop’s performance in greater detail and this in turn empowers them to make commercial decisions based on fact. “It’s the whole package of being more professional that you get with Cybertill,” concludes Marisa, “They (the shop managers) have more knowledge and understand how to maximise sales and profit per square foot. What’s more the professionalism seeps across the business we have now bar coded supporter cards, and we can look to extend this to gift or club cards and so forth. And in the last financial year, for the first time ever, we made a net profit of just over £1m for the hospice.”