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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