Interview with Paul Thompson, head of retail at British Red Cross » Charity Digital News

Interview with Paul Thompson, head of retail at British Red Cross


Charity Digital News recently caught up with the head of retail at British Red Cross, Paul Thompson, to discuss how its multiple stores across the UK are engaging with Cybertill.

What was life like in British Red Cross stores before engaging with Cybertill?

Working in the sector for some 20 years now I can recall the revelation of introducing a digital display, multi push-button till technology into charity shops as if it were only yesterday.  We introduced Cybertill to our business around 6 years ago, which even then felt like we were again removing biscuit tin technology and installing a new-fangled bit of kit that petrified us all. Yes, we were right to worry, but equally as right to be bold. After all, we are retailers when all is said and done, and retailers must innovate whatever sector they trade in.

Our retail business needed two things when we undertook a tender process for our ePos provider. Firstly, a company that we felt offered great value for money and a system that was scalable for future-proofing and, a system that offered not only sales intelligence, but one we could also use as a communication tool with shop.

Instant business intelligence give us the ability to know where we stand, say Monday to Thursday, then take positive action to achieve what we need to in remaining days of the week. Before this live data, we were almost looking back on trade, and thinking how it might have been.

Pre Cybertill, we relied on in-store fax, which was both unreliable and time-consuming.  The ability now to effectively message all shops, or one shop instantly by the touch of a button, is like comparing mobile technology to a tin can and string.

What made you choose Cybertill as a retail system?

A few things. Firstly a competitive tender, good value system that had all the features we needed then, and for the future. A key feature was the ‘added value’ on top of just providing sales data and till functionality. The system with a back-office functionality for data storing and communication was a big deal for us, and that doubled up with being a live system, not an overnight polling solution got us excited about the real-time interaction we, at head office,  could have with our shops. However, I cannot underplay Cybertill and their leadership as a company, whereas they gave us the confidence to believe in them as individuals, such was their confidence in their product, as well as their commitment to work with us, vitally at a peer to peer level.

What features in particular do you benefit from as a charity?

There are many. At the Red Cross we were later into Gift aid than many others, as we were resistant to operating a paper/ sticker and manual solution for this scheme.

Of course now, we use Cybertill to really drive our gift aid offer. Although we were perhaps playing catch up with some, we know we have a robust and forward-looking system to ensure we expand our scheme well into the future. We are embracing this with a joint gift aid and Loyalty card solution. For us, this has been a big deal.

How has using the system changed the way your stores operate?

We are able to find out average transaction values, peak trading periods, best sellers, proportionality of goods sold versus goods displayed, how much money has ‘X’ shop taken at any single point of the day, who was on the till at that time. I could go on, but whatever mainstream retailers have, we have too with Cybertill.


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