Havens Hospices is an Essex-based charity providing specialist care and support to patients and their loved ones at the end of their lives. The charity is only able to provide this hugely important service through the generosity of supporters who donate time, money and goods to the charity.

Joining the charity nine years ago, CEO Trevor Johnson has seen first-hand how migrating from Cybertill to Nisyst’s CHARiot EPoS system has helped each and every one of Havens Hospices’ 23 charity retail outlets to run more efficiently and generate more funds for the charity.

“When we first worked with Nisyst in November 2017, our retail hardware was beginning to reach the point of needing replaced,” Trevor explained. “Whether we changed our provider or not, it was a prudent process to review what was out there. We realised quickly we no longer wanted to use Cybertill as it was entirely cloud based and we were completely vulnerable to the internet connection which wasn’t always reliable in many of our shops.”

Havens Hospices narrowed their choice to between two contenders, one of which was Nisyst. “The level of first-line support and Nisyst’s proven track record in migrating several charities from Cybertill made them the clear preferred choice,” Trevor continued. “Nisyst’s plan to roll out their CHARiot EPoS system was very comprehensive and there weren’t any hidden costs.”

Once Nisyst was brought on board, members of Trevor’s team treated the new system with scepticism, not believing that a Gift Aid donation could be processed in just ‘4 clicks’. “In the past, processing Gift Aid was hugely time consuming for our staff and volunteers,” Trevor said. “Even though we knew Nisyst’s new systems would make this process more efficient and reliable, many of our volunteers raised concerns about the changes. Within a week, our volunteers said it was the best thing we’d ever done for the charity. The new Gift Aid process with full scan code in particular has been a game changer for us.”

The migration itself proved to be a seamless process for Havens Hospices where any issues were ironed out and the Nisyst Helpdesk team were on hand to provide support and guidance to anyone who needed it.

Now, the charity is really feeling the benefits. “Nisyst’s reliability has been a real core benefit,” Trevor added. “They even examined our old ‘legacy’ hardware and found a way to make our old hardware work with the new which created a cost saving for us. Their honesty has been refreshing and a welcome contrast to most software providers who are looking at how much they can sell you. Nisyst consider how they can help your organisation first and they’ve certainly helped us.”

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When Paul Chivers joined Bristol-based charity St Peter’s Hospice to head up their retail team four years ago, his arrival coincided with the charity’s official tendering process for a retail software solutions provider, and very early stage conversations with Nisyst. The charity had one key requirement – a system that was simple for their team to use.

As one of the largest hospices in the UK, St Peter’s Hospice cares for adults with life-limiting illnesses aiming to improve the quality of their living and dying while extending care and support to their families and loved ones.  With 51 charity retail outlets within a two-mile radius across Bristol including high street, specialist, boutique and furniture shops, their retail outlets are one of their strongest methods of fundraising.

With the care provided by the charity completely free, each day costs approximately £20,000 to operate, with all the money coming from Gifts in Wills, donations, fundraising and from the revenue generated by the shops. It is vital to the charity that every last penny goes towards the exceptional care the charity provides.

“We required a reliable and robust EPoS system which could grow with our needs,” Paul explained. “A system that our team could get to grips with quickly, and the functionality to bolt on new initiatives as they arose. For example, if we had an interruption to our internet connection, we wanted a system that could run comfortably offline as well. Nisyst’s CHARiot EPoS system offered all of these features.”

One of the most important modules within the CHARiot EPoS system is the Gift Aid module and, since the introduction of Gift Aid on items marked as rag, St Peter’s Hospice has generated an increase in revenue. “Before Nisyst introduced this feature, these items weren’t generating any revenue for the charity,” Paul said. “In the first year after its launch, the revenue generated from rag items paid for more than a full-day of our operations. This revenue has continued to grow year-on-year as our staff and volunteers become more familiar with the process.”

By keeping track of the eligible items, CHARiot EPoS can calculate the exact amount of money which can be reclaimed and the module also meets the strict criteria laid out by HMRC, meaning charities like St  Peter’s Hospice don’t miss out on any of the money to which they are entitled.

As well as enabling an increase in revenue for the charity, CHARiot EPoS has improved the retail teams’ efficiency through the introduction of a digitised Single Lotto Ticket sign up process. A common fundraising format in the sector, paper lotto tickets were sold to customers and the retailer would take the customer’s details – a similar process to purchasing a raffle ticket.

While customers who chose to sign up over a longer period would pay a Direct Debit every month, a Single Lotto Ticket customer would have to sign up every week. “The old process was a very manual method which was very time consuming for our team,” Paul said. With the arrival of CHARiot, this is now a completely paperless process in which the team administer the details on a till which retains the relevant customer’s details. “It is far more efficient than before and has made a significant difference to our retail teams,” Paul added.

Since joining forces four years ago to improve efficiencies and revenues in the retail arm of the charity, St Peter’s Hospice have enjoyed working with Nisyst. “We have been very impressed with the help and support offered by the team at Nisyst who we have developed an incredibly positive working relationship with since the introduction of the CHARiot EPoS system,” Paul added. “Their IT helpline, in particular, is excellent and they’re highly proactive visiting us regularly to review our systems and processes. Their services have helped us drive our income forward and we look forward to continuing this with Nisyst in the future.”

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“Nisyst really do care about you as a customer. Right from our very first meeting, they really listened to our needs and paid attention to what we wanted, providing a tailored solution for us as an independent charity. They are always willing to listen to our feedback so they can continue to provide the very best EPoS product for the charity retail market.”

As someone who started her career at Hospiscare eighteen years ago working as a volunteer in one of their twenty retail outlets, Helen Hutter appreciates the absolute necessity of using an EPoS system in store which is one hundred percent dependable.

Now Head of Retail at Hospiscare, a Devon based charity which provides end of life care for those who are terminally ill, this experience has given her a greater appreciation of the frustrations experienced by shop managers and volunteers when the EPoS system used to serve a customer goes down unexpectedly.

“We have twenty retail outlets in total, all dedicated Hospiscare charity shops. These include sixteen generic charity shops, two warehouse style shops, one department store and one book and collectable shop. Our last EPoS system was so incredibly unreliable – at any time tills in our shops could crash. This caused massive inconvenience for everyone involved and in some cases meant that we missed out on a sale. Not good news when you are a charity and entirely dependent on retail sales and donations to fund what you do! It was clear, going forward, that our EPoS system was not fit for purpose.”

It was this frustration, and a desire to improve the process of claiming Gift Aid, which spurred Helen on to go out to tender for another EPoS systems provider. She approached several companies, but it was clear from the get-go that Nisyst’s approach made them stand out from the crowd.

“Right from our very first meeting with Nisyst, they really listened to our needs and paid attention to what we wanted. They weren’t providing a one size fits all solution, but a tailored approach which suited us as an independent charity. They were also able to address the data conversion challenge, easily importing the information from our existing system into CHARiot.”

Nisyst’s CHARiot EPoS system was installed in a matter of six weeks, with Hospiscare being one of the first charities to use the ‘Single Scan Barcode’ (SSB) service. This service enables every product to be put through the till and scanned using a barcode which assesses whether or not the product is eligible for Gift Aid. The service is also used to label donations once they are handed in, which means the charity can adhere to GDPR rules, much improving the experience for the donor. Hospiscare also take advantage of the Lottery Module service, which enables them to sell lottery tickets anonymously.

“Installing the new system was a really smooth process and, without doubt, has completely changed the way we operate. It has meant that managers and volunteers within our retail outlets are far more confident and comfortable dealing with customers. We can offer a far better service to our customers, in the knowledge that our tills won’t crash at any given moment. It has also made the process of claiming Gift Aid far more robust and compliant and generally much smoother. In addition, we’re also able to view how each individual shop is performing daily via a mobile dashboard. This enables us to respond to issues quickly and lets the shop manager know if they need to do more to reach their sales target.”

Helen also really appreciates the level of customer care given by Nisyst on a regular basis.

“The team continue to provide us with an absolutely outstanding service, responding to our requests for assistance quickly and efficiently. We have regular meetings with our account manager who is always willing to listen to our feedback. They have a strong desire to provide the very best EPoS product for the charity retail market. Nisyst really do care about you as a customer.”

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When Alan Haynes took over the reigns as Head of Retail of All Aboard Charity Shops six years ago, it took him less than a week to realise that he had an uphill battle on his hands to convince the board of trustees that their ePoS system was not fit for purpose and was seriously holding back the retail fundraising efforts of the charity.

All Aboard Shops are a chain of charity shops that raise funds for over 60 UK Registered Charities. Through the funds raised they have provided hospital equipment, outings and respite care for the terminally ill children, research projects, and learning programmes, as well as contributing towards residential care for the elderly.

At that time operating 18 charity shops in the Greater London and Manchester, Alan – now CEO of the charity – had to convince the Board that appointing a new ePoS provider would not only make a difference to the day to day operations of the charity but would pay for itself quickly with the additional Gift Aid funds they could reclaim.

“It was no small task, asking a board to re-invest a sizable amount of money for a second time in another ePoS system not two years after they’d already done so. However it was clear to me that our existing system was simply not fit for purpose and, worse, I had a list of operational complaints from shops that ran to four pages long and absolutely zero support from our incumbent supplier. We needed to find the right solution and, as far as I was concerned, the search was most definitely on for the best product on the market.”

Approaching the market with an open tender, All Aboard were looking for a system that would be easy for volunteers to use, which had robust Gift Aid compliance built in, and which would enable the charity to expand the business both in bricks and mortar retail as well as on online trading platforms in the future, such as eBay.

After a competitive tendering process, Nisyst’s CHARiot ePoS system ticked all the boxes and they were awarded the contract, leading to “the smoothest roll out of hardware and software I’ve ever experienced,” commented Alan.

“The full roll out with Nisyst took just 3 months, including all the training of the volunteers. In fact, the system was so easy to operate, training took much less time than had been originally planned. We planned for it to take a week and after just 3 days the shop teams had grasped it fully and felt they didn’t need the support any more. And their exceptional customer service hasn’t stopped there. Just a few months ago, one of our shops was broken into and the thieves trashed both the store and, sadly, our ePoS system. One call to Nisyst and they had us back up and running the next morning. As a team they seriously move heaven and earth to look after their customers.”

Following the installation of CHARiot, All Aboard have since opened a 19th store and are resting easy at night knowing that their Gift Aid claims are 100% compliant.

“It may sound strange but the biggest peace of mind I have as a Chief Executive is in knowing that Nisyst’s CHARiot system has our Gift Aid reclaim process completely nailed down. It’s so robust and can literally take a transaction from item donated with full Gift Aid permissions, right through the sale of that item regardless of whether it’s in one of our stores or on eBay. It’s truly reassuring to know that our Gift Aid claims are 100% HMRC compliant but can also be done easily at, literally the touch of a button.”

Alan also enjoys Nisyst’s company culture which is one that is continuously developing and learning from their customers.

“The team at Nisyst really care. As a company they take time to understand your business and will flex to meet your needs. They hold regular webinars with groups of customers and are always asking us what’s next, what features we want to see, how they can improve CHARiot. And, better still, when they deliver the enhancements, they do so at no extra cost so the software, and ultimately our business, gets stronger all the time. Every customer wants to feel loved and that’s, ultimately, what Nisyst make you feel. They care about their product, about their customers and about you. It really sets them apart.”

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Tasked by the board of The Children’s Society to source and roll out the charity’s first ePoS system across 67 retail outlets and then scale it up to 106 shops, Paul Tate, New Business Manager, knew he needed a software provider who could meet a set of unique demands. The Children’ Society is a national charity that supports this country’s most vulnerable children – this year they worked directly with over 11,000 children and young people and helped 500,000 more through their campaigning. Their retail shops play a crucial role in supporting their work, so Paul pulls no punches when he says that Nisyst’s collaborative approach to product development has made for a strong long-term working relationship that has lasted the past 7 years.

An investment on this scale is not one taken lightly by any charity. With, at that time, 67 shops to support, an investment in hardware and software was no small undertaking. Return on capital employed was a serious concern for Paul.

“When you are a charity you are incredibly protective of your funds so any operational spend has to make a difference and quickly. Nisyst’s CHARiot was rolled out flawlessly across all 67 of our stores and brought with it the ability for us to reclaim Gift Aid. Within 18 months the system had paid for itself in claims alone and it continues to be an important income stream for us as a charity. Add to that the system takes all of the administrative burden out of the Gift Aid claim process meaning we enjoy an operational efficiency that is doubly advantageous.”

Key for Paul is Nisyst’s collaborative company culture which he says is uniquely focused on enhancing and developing the product to suit the changing needs of the charity retail sector.

“Nisyst are always developing an already excellent product, and they do this at no cost to their clients. So, unlike other companies who readily apply a charge to their customers for development, Nisyst don’t adopt that approach, which is invaluable as a customer. Nisyst listen to what we need and then they go away, think about it and, if they can improve what’s already there, they’ll do it. More than that, they’ll do it more thoughtfully and laterally then we had considered. They simply want to be the best at what they do and that’s evidenced by their obsession with customer satisfaction.”

This obsessive approach to customer satisfaction has stood the company well with no less than two wins under their belt as the Charity Retail Association’s Supplier of the Year. Paul commented:

“Nisyst are incredibly humble. They have a really good product and, as a company, they really care. They care about their client’s businesses, they care about the product experience, they care about customer support. That matters. It’s not just about technology, it’s about people and we know that the team at Nisyst will be there for us. It’s personal for them.”

It may feel personal, however Nisyst’s CHARiot has helped make a considerable contribution to The Children’s Society’s bottom line. Last year, retail Gift Aid claims for the charity exceeded £600,000 against a retail income of £10.3million – contributing an increase in income of 5.7% to The Children’s Society’s activities in that part of the business. Most importantly, the Gift Aid reclaims last year delivered 5.82% of the charity’s retail income for the year. Much needed funds that can now go to helping some of society’s most vulnerable children.

Paul commented: “Making a difference. That’s how I’d put it. Nisyst’s ethos really fits with the charity sector – they are there to make a difference and they really do. They do what they say they’ll do, and they’ll do it even better than you expected. You can’t ask for more than that.”

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