Wales Air Ambulance relies entirely on the public’s support to raise £6.5million annually in order to continue running its four aircrafts and saving lives. Its 16 shops are a vital part of this fundraising effort but in a bid to generate more revenue, the charity recently rolled-out CHARiot, Electronic Point of Sale (EPoS) system by Nisyst, in its stores.
Andrew Lawton, head of retail and trading at Wales Air Ambulance, says: “Prior to the roll-out across the board, my predecessor had introduced CHARiot in six of our stores and when I joined the charity I could really see the impact it made to those shops. Our other ten stores were operating solely on old-school cash registers but as the HMRC Guidelines changed and the benefits of Gift Aid became more apparent, I was set on installing EPoS in every store to ensure they all perform to full potential.
“Out of the competition, CHARiot offers the best value and it’s easy to use. From a retail perspective, the detailed reporting allows us to monitor individual store performance much closer and manage their profit and loss more accurately.”
Leaving the old cash registers behind, has meant that the charity has experienced increase in average till income, tells Andrew. “Our retail teams have become far more efficient and we’ve since taken tens of thousands of pounds in Gift Aid. Just being able to take a payment in a way that our customers want to contribute is amazing. Features such as contactless payments and Android or Apple Pay has let us operate just as any other 21st century retailer, regardless of the fact we’re a charity.
“Our regional managers are able to scrutinise performance of individual stores or celebrate successes of others which helps us to engage teams and set clear goals. Our annual stock take is also made much easier and twice as fast as the software is really accurate. Instead of having to triple count our stock and enter all the data manually, we can just scan once and check against the figure provided by the system.”
Since CHARiot’s installation, Wales Air Ambulance has seen a significant increase of Gift Aid penetration and the charity is hoping to raise this even further by the end of 2017. The team is also looking to introduce Gift Aid on Rags in the future but at the moment, the system’s Furniture Delivery & Collection module is being trialled in one of its stores, says Andrew. “Fifty per cent of what we turn over in our stores comes from furniture donations but we’ve been using a manual system which can be quite challenging to track and understand. CHARiot doesn’t allow you to continue with a transaction unless all information is inputted accurately which creates a robust error free process.”
Talking about how the software has been received by staff and volunteers, Andrew adds: “A large proportion of our volunteers are retired or being rehabilitated back into workplace so we had to convince people to make the transition and change their perceptions in terms of efficiencies and behaviour. Although some may have been a bit apprehensive at first, everyone has now become far more productive.”