Read how Imperial War Museum moved to software from Cybertill and EPoS tills from J2 Retail Systems to run the retail operations at their five visitor venues

Cybertill and J2 have proven to be a flexible system that we have used for over 3 years across multiple branches within a geographically diverse and complex organisation.  The immediate access to stock, sales and profit information has enabled my team to analyse retail performance in detail and has contributed to a marked improvement in our results. says Jo Wilks, Head of Retail for the Imperial War Museum.

The Client

The Imperial War Museum tells the story of wars involving Britain and the Commonwealth from the First World War to the present day.  It looks at life in the front line as well as on the home front and explains the causes, course and consequences of the conflicts in an engaging, stimulating and thought- provoking way.   

The Imperial War Museum is a collection of five museums.  Imperial War Museum London is an internationally-renowned museum which houses key collections including a rich display of art; HMS Belfast is a Second World War cruiser moored on the Thames; The Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms was Churchills secret underground HQ during the war and is now also home to the first museum dedicated to his life; Imperial War Museum Duxford is Europes premier aviation museum near Cambridge and Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, is one of the most talked-about new museums in the UK.

None are museums of the distant past, but are about people who are still alive today, their great grandparents, grandparents and parents.    The wars of the twentieth century have shaped all of our lives and visitor numbers to the Museum bear witness to peoples belief in the importance of learning about and from the past.   www.iwm.org.uk

The Retail Challenge

Whilst the Imperial War Museum is a charity with all proceeds from visitor traffic and retail sales supporting its work, it nevertheless needs to run with as an efficient and profitable enterprise. The five shops currently handle over 500,000 transactions each year, generating more than 3.5million in revenue. 

The shops offer a wide range of merchandise with some 8,000 individual items including gifts, learning resources, CDs, DVDs, posters, models and kits, and over 5,000 books.  Each shop has a different theme and customer base, and stocks unique product ranges.  This makes life more challenging for the team of buyers and merchandisers that manage them. The Imperial War Museum also has a growing online store www.iwmshop.org.uk and a mail-order business.

With increased visitor traffic resulting from highly successful exhibitions and events programmes, the Imperial War Museum needed a new electronic point-of-sale system to cope with the expected trading increase in its shops, to help manage stock more efficiently between sites and to support the companys growing e-commerce business.

The Solution

In 2005, the Museum decided to install an EPoS system that would streamline stock management across all its locations and that would ensure that sales during peak trading period ran smoothly. 

As a government-funded body, the Imperial War Museum was obliged to follow a rigorous tendering process.  It looked at fifteen EPoS systems before it narrowed its selection down to a short-list of four.

The business was keen to reduce the dependency of its retail staff and its small IT team.   The aim was to install a system that was easy to manage and use, which it could keep constantly up to date, with little effort.  It felt confident this would allow the IT staff to concentrate on managing internal systems and networks, and would equip the retail team to function independently.

The Benefits:

 Stock can be more efficiently coordinated between multiple sites, and stockholding is reduced as a result
 Improvements have been seen in shop floor operations, and in the logistics and distribution processes
 Store EPoS, mail order and e-commerce have all been brought together on one integrated platform
 Real-time stock and sales data is always accessible and can be managed remotely from any location
 The systems ease of use means that retail staff are less dependent upon IT colleagues

The Process

After a thorough evaluation, the Imperial War Museum awarded the contract to Cybertill, a leading EPoS and e-commerce solution provider.  The company opted for an integrated multi-channel approach, which brings together its shops, e-commerce and mail-order as a single operation.

The system is delivered remotely from Cybertills data centre as an internet-based software as a service.  Cybertill turned to its preferred hardware supplier, J2 Retail Systems, to install its J2 920 PC-based touchscreen tills in each shop. 

A real-time, consolidated view of trading covers shops, the online store and mail-order operations.  Secure access to sales, cash flow and inventory is constantly available regardless of location.

The software as a service approach has meant an end to concerns about data backups, the server room environment or local network issues.  Virtually fault-free performance is guaranteed, and this has had a positive impact on retail operations.  When it comes to system updates, Cybertill takes care of them also.

The Results

Overall, the new Cybertill and J2 solution has cut costs and improved reliability.  Stock management has been centralised, giving client Sales and Purchasing Managers access to a detailed audit trail of transactions.  This has enabled them to reduce excess stock levels by more than 20% and to adopt a just-in-time approach to purchasing to maximise profitability.

The system is intuitive to use, even for part-time staff who work only a few days a month. This makes it ideal for a retail environment where staff turnover is high and sales volumes peak at the busiest trading times.

Product lines, sales figures and stock levels are all managed and updated in real time.  Sales from the shops, the online store and the mail-order operation automatically register on a single sales database.  Customised sales reports are easy to generate against a common view of the business and help the team to identify popular and poor-selling items.  Armed with this information, it can respond to sales trends and optimise the product range.

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