Customer Success Stories
About Helen Rollason
Helen Rollason Cancer Charity was founded in 1999, as a legacy of the TV sports presenter of the same name. Helen Rollason MBE was diagnosed with cancer in 1997 and in spite of her illness she continued working. At that time she launched the Helen Rollason Cancer Care Appeal, trying to raise £5m for a new cancer wing at the North Middlesex Hospital where she received most of her treatment. Sadly Helen lost her battle with cancer in August 1999. The charity was then founded later that year, and today it offers three main services: Cancer Support Centres for patients and carers; research laboratory into breast cancer; and clinical drug trials.
Retail plays a large part in raising much needed funds for Helen Rollason Cancer Charity, accounting for 48% of the charity’s revenue, so the charity was keen to see how it further optimise the operation’s performance. Prior to trialing Cybertill the stores were all manually operated. But before choosing a charity retail system they were keen to trial one that would help manage the stores and automate gift aid. After extensive market research and consulting other charity retailers the name ‘Cybertill’ kept on appearing.
Helen Rollason Cancer Charity had two key motivators, which were: claiming gift aid and the benefit of introducing a digital retail system. “The monetary reward of gift aid was key, we wanted to create that sustainable predictable income so we can plan for the future,” explains Alison Matthews, Retail Manager at Helen Rollason Cancer Charity.
“With Cybertill we can see so much more because it’s live. We can see who’s on the till what they are ringing up. It gives you a picture of what is going on and the information you need from a management perspective in a live format."
Alison Matthews, Retail Manager at Helen Rollason Cancer Charity
Helen Rollason Cancer Charity has twelve shops, located in Essex and the outskirts of East London, and with manual systems in place they could not get an overview of their financial situation in their shops on a daily basis, and they were only claiming gift aid on larger donations. “With Cybertill we can see so much more because it’s live. We can see who’s on the till what they are ringing up. It gives you a picture of what is going on and the information you need from a management perspective in a live format. It eradicates checking till rolls at the end of the week,” explains Alison.
As with most charities Helen Rollason Cancer Charity has to be prudent with any financial outlay, and able to demonstrate a clear benefit or return on investment. Hence they initially trialled Cybertill in one of their stores. After a successful implementation and training period the store went live with Cybertill and it proved to be a huge success. This in turn meant they could invest across three more stores of their estate, and throughout 2012 they will continue deploying Cybertill across all their stores.
With different charity retail systems available Helen Rollason Cancer Charity undertook market research and spoke with peers, as Alison explains. “We did a lot of research when looking at gift aid. What was key was the service given. With Cybertill you are presented with a donor and product database. And Cybertill stores, manages and backs it all up for you. We don’t have to worry about that or upgrades, which makes a huge difference to the charity. We also had good feedback on how Cybertill had improved another charity’s operations in lots of different ways including fundraising, marketing and their sales had also gone up. With Cybertill it was the overall package.”
Helen Rollason Cancer Charity was keen to ensure that the roll out was a success so before installation plans were drawn up. They looked at how they could ensure the volunteers would buy in to using and promoting the Cybertill system and how they would in turn also promote gift aid to their customers.
For the former they implemented regular communication, easy to follow training and regular site visits by area managers. For the latter they focused heavily on in store promotions and word of mouth from their volunteers. “The shops with Cybertill have seen an increase in both donations and sign-ups to gift aid. Volunteers are talking gift aid, from the trial it made donors think what else they could donate,” explains Alison. “We’ve also found Cybertill has been an invaluable tool for team motivation. Being able to give key skills to volunteers, where they can operate in a technology driven environment, has been a revelation for many. Also many volunteers weren’t aware what a difference gift aid can make. But now they can see the returns, they are like ‘wow’. This drives them on to get more donations and donor sign ups, so it is an ever increasing benefit.”
Cloud = Instant Information
The charity’s Head Office has found that with Cybertill being a web-based system this has offered them a multitude of benefits, such as: visibility of stores, remote access, instant information, as Alison explains. “The flexibility Cybertill gives you to look at things is incredible. I find myself constantly looking at what the sales are and the percentages. What’s more you can see donations day on day and seeing commission creeping up it’s a real drive for us and the shop teams. The remote log in is invaluable. With Cybertill being in the cloud, it is the way of the world now. I can get an overview of all shops’ sales on an evening at home. I can check the end of day and ensure that everything balances. If there are issues we can use the audit trail in Cybertill where we can pinpoint any errors almost immediately.”
Cybertill has also helped create an element of healthy competition in store according to Alison. “Volunteers start asking ‘how can we sign up more donors tomorrow?’, and they can see the results too. Now the information is there they stand round the till at the end of the day to see how they have done.
We would have not been able to create that sort of culture if we did not have this sort of EPoS system. They can measure the difference they are making, which is great for them.”
The Only Way is Cybertill
The retail operations, of the Essex based charity, have delivered some phenomenal figures in very short time. In less than six months 30% of sales are gift aided in the four shops with Cybertill (in that time only three shops were fully active, with the fourth coming online towards the end of the fifth month). After the first four months across the three charity shops running Cybertill they had generated £7,000 in gift aid revenue. “It has been a huge success for the charity,” commented Greg Camburn, Interim Charity Manager at Helen Rollason Cancer Charity. “All the hard work that the team has put in has been remarkable to produce such outstanding results, and Cybertill has been central to that effort. An example of that is when Cybertill was introduced to the Burnham branch sales rocketed by around 60%, but all the shops have increased sales when the till has gone in. There are two reasons behind this the management focus with an area manager now driving the retail arm and of course Cybertill.”
Already the stores are evolving, for example they have started to explore how they can improve their merchandising of the stores. For example through using the figures from Cybertill they have noticed how well the ladies accessories department has been performing at one branch, as Alison explains. “We have started to look at how we merchandise the stores. With the Witham store we noticed they sold ladies accessories really well, hats, bags and shoes. So the display afforded to it has grown.” It is this sort of approach that has helped the charity further improve its performance. The future plans for Helen Rollason Cancer Charity are to roll Cybertill out across all their stores. With continual management focus and discipline on the figures they hope to attain over 40% of all sales being gift aided. And with the initial success this seems evidently achievable.