An old-fashioned and frequently inaccurate triplicate paper system was leading to inconsistent pricing, duplication and time-consuming reporting procedures for staff at Ross Care's four retail stores. With the stores having separate databases, accurate stock control and first-class customer service were proving a real challenge to achieve.
KRCS worked closely with Ross Care to get to know the business and its specific requirements in order to provide the best solution possible - an easy-to-use solution that would streamline the sales and reporting process, ensure improved stock control and fit seamlessly into the stores' new contemporary design and layout.
Product and customer databases have been amalgamated to reduce duplication and improve continuity. Pricing is consistent and staff and management have an accurate, up-to-date view of sales performance. The stylish and discreet POS system has allowed more space for customer comfort and staff can instantly see what products are available elsewhere, helping to provide a much-improved service to customers.
Simple and intuitive
Ross Care is a major provider of wheelchair services and mobility equipment on behalf of the NHS and local authorities. Its four retail stores can be found in Manchester, Leeds, Sunderland and Ellesmere Port.
The stores were using an old-fashioned and frequently inaccurate triplicate paper system to manually record sales which would then have to be transferred onto a PC system at the end of each day. Not only was this time-consuming, it left room for error and often led to inconsistent pricing as, even though the stores were using the same system, their product databases were completely separate.
With the stores about to undergo a re-fit, head office decided this was an opportune time to update to a more efficient system which would provide accurate, up-to-date sales data, providing insight into store performance and customer habits. It was clear Ross Care would greatly benefit from a cloud-based system which would allow communication between stores and enable oversight from head office.
"I conducted a lot of research." explains Alastair Ronaldson, marketing & sales manager for the company. "I read endless reviews and compared the features of many systems before concluding that Apple technologies would be the best solution for the company."
Alastair was impressed by how easy to use Apple solutions seemed to be. "Our previous system involved a lot of paper-based operations, so the migration to a digital system needed to be simple and intuitive for the team." he says. "Apple solutions promised a good balance between the benefits of a tried and tested off-the-shelf system, whilst maintaining enough flexibility to use it in a manner that best suited our business."
Alastair says KRCS was a big factor in his decision.
"Most companies I spoke to only offered remote support, but being able to meet face-to-face with an expert proved invaluable when getting to grips with a new system." he explains. "Having on the ground support was essential, particularly in the set-up phase. Equally, the process was streamlined by KRCS being a one-stop-shop provider for set-up, hardware, training and on-going support."
A cloud based system
In each store, KRCS supplied an iPad Air 2 incorporating Vend software, a Star printer and cash drawer. Staff also received in-store training on the system which greatly helped those who were not particularly tech-friendly and had only ever encountered paper-based systems.
Ross Care already had an IT team at head office to support the existing PCs but needed help to manage the iPad. KRCS introduced them to Mobile Device Management (MDM) - a cloud-based software system which enables Ross Care to manage and update the iPad remotely. This includes Wi-Fi password changes, app installs and updates and remote wiping if required. Using the Device Enrolment Programme (DEP) the iPad were pre-configured to work immediately in the stores as soon as they were taken out of the their boxes. "MDM is very useful as our stores are situated across a wide geographical spread. Having central control via MDM saves on hours of lost time in travel and supports quick resolutions to simple fixes. It also removes pressure off sales staff to need to respond to any technical elements and also helps to ensure appropriate use of hardware." explains Alastair.
"The configuration is also really beneficial, for scaling a business. While there is quite a lot of work involved in setting up the database for one store, each outlet thereafter can be up and running very quickly straight out of a box which will be really useful for any future expansion."
Through Vend, product and customer databases have been amalgamated to reduce duplication and improve continuity in how products are added and sold. Price changes from head office are done instantly and automatically and having a cloud-based system has now prevented triplicate forms going missing, or getting damaged on their way to head office.
Store manager, Karen Mason, says the Vend software has made the whole process much easier as it enables staff and management to see exactly what products are selling and when. "When it comes to accounting, everything is virtually already done." she says. "I can just send documents straight from Vend onto my accountant, which is less time-consuming for both of us. There is also a really useful VAT feature. Some customers are entitled to VAT relief on products designed or adapted for a disability. However, others have to pay it on the same product which could get very confusing and could lead to error. However, Vend gives us the flexibility to be able to charge accordingly and automatically."
"The footprint of the iPad takes up far less room than the cash register we were previously using, giving us much more space at the counter. Plus, the system is linked to other shops so we can see what stock is available elsewhere. Before, we would have had to waste time phoning around so that really is a big help."
Reporting on customers and their buying habits has helped the business look at its current stock and report on what products are selling better than others, either for the whole business or for each store location. The system also allows them to report on VAT Relief sales and clearly define what type of customers are purchasing particular products. The solution has also greatly reduced the work for the accounts team as, instead of having to manually input data from the separate store databases, they can now simply export from Vend and input into Sage.
"Having a constant, accurate visibility of sales performance has become the new norm for our business." says Alastair. "I believe, as markets become ever-more competitive, this is essential. It informs our day-to-day actions as well as high-level reporting and time spent on operations such as stock taking is also beginning to significantly reduce. Additionally, being able to access the system from anywhere, even a mobile phone, is a fantastic benefit."
"The support from KRCS has been invaluable." he adds. "The personal contact has made future technical support for staff members easier and instilled a confidence throughout the company in embracing change. Although, to be honest, over the course of a year, our need for technical support has actually become quite rare, which I think is testament to the ease of use and reliability of Apple products. However, we do know that, if we ever do need help, we can call KRCS and there is always someone available to help and reassure us."