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Major EPOS Implementation for Wyevale


Wyevale Garden Centres is the UK's largest garden centre chain with over 120 stores nationwide – ranging from smaller traditional centres to large destination stores. The company caters for all gardening needs, from enthusiasts growing specialist plants from seed to families who consider the garden as an outdoor room to decorate and furnish in their own style. Wyevale offers a wide range of garden products from plants, chemicals and tools to furniture, barbecues and leisure products.

During 2006 Wyevale faced an increasing number of issues with it's existing 10-year old till system. Reliability was poor, multi-buy, stock management and Chip & PIN were impossible, and taken together these severely restricted business growth. Wyevale needed to develop an EPOS system to both meet it's current retailing demands and it's future growth. They asked PMC (Paul Mason Consulting) to manage the new EPOS selection process, and Wyevale selected Retail-J.

The scope of the EPOS project included selecting new hardware and software, installing a wide area network to support it, staff training, user acceptance testing and meeting an aggressive roll out schedule. As well as these challenges Wyevale had to deal with the extra issues of new company ownership, and introducing new ways of working.

As this was the first major investment made by Wyevale for some considerable time, it's size and complexity demanded collaborative working to achieve success. The organization accepted it had source issues and created a project team involving Wyevale, RBS (Retail Business Systems) and PMC (Paul Mason Consulting). Wyevale had the business knowledge, RBS provided the hardware and configured the software, and PMC was responsible for overall programme management, User Acceptance Testing and staff training.

Sarah Ratcliffe, Finance Director Wyevale Garden Centres, confirms: "Recognising that we did not have enough resources or experience to deliver a project of this complexity, we decided to work with those who did. We coupled our knowledge of our business with their retail systems and technical expertise to deliver the best EPOS solution for Wyevale."

Following a system review in June 2006, Wyevale chose IBM SurePos tills with the Retail-J software. Pilots ran in November 2006 at the company's Stratford upon Avon store, in December at Harlestone Heath (Northampton) and Church Lawford (Coventry). Following the successful pilots, rollout started in January 2007 to 106 Wyevale stores (peaking at 12 per week) involving over 600 POS tills. The rollout completed on 15th March 2007.

Before implementing the system, Wyevale could manage no more than 30 in-store promotions – with the new EPOS system they can now handle over 1,000. In addition, all stores are Chip & PIN enabled improving the customers' shopping experience. Business information is improved with real-time sales reporting, controlled discounting and costs are down as the number of in-store tills reduced by 10%. Touch screen tills now aid product identification, make the system easier for store staff to use, reduce customers' waiting time and enable accurate sales records especially from in-store restaurants.

Sarah Ratcliffe, states: "This was a business-changing project that created a radically different approach to our retail operations within an incredibly tight timescale. The project's success is undeniable."

The project impacted on all areas of Wyevale's business, which demanded high levels of management and control. As a result the project delivered exactly as promised to the board – to set up a new EPOS system by Easter 2007 for under £3 million - on time, to budget.

Responsible for staff training, PMC identified staff training needs, and used classroom-style training at 6 primary and 4 secondary Wyevale locations across the UK. These locations were selected to reduce staff travelling distances and time spent out of the store.

PMC started training in January 2007 by training 7 to 10 'Regional Champions' as subject experts for their local area. They then helped to train their own people. This support meant someone was there to coach Wyevale's staff on the new system in a 'live' environment.

Sarah Ratcliffe closes: "The immediate benefit is an EPOS system that meets our retailing demands now and in the future. We have good system reliability, significantly improved business management and growth potential. Also, we have the long-term benefit of building on the functionality within Retail-J, such as time and attendance to improve staff management, stock management, discounting and loss prevention."