In support of its retail arm, Ipswich Town has just completed an overhaul of its EPoS system, installing AURES Yuno terminals along with a brand-new inventory management and integrated EPoS software system. Lee Hyde, the club’s director of retail operations, explains how the upgrade project came about and what benefits he expects to see.
The modern professional football club is much more than a sports organisation. With a loyal and returning customer base, extensive corporate sponsorship opportunities and access to highly lucrative TV rights deals, today’s clubs are high value, high visibility brands.
And no consumer-facing brand is complete without a retail operation to market and sell its merchandise.
Ipswich Town FC can trace its history back to 1878. The biggest football club in Suffolk, the team known as ‘The Tractorboys’ has a rich history that includes a First Division title, an FA Cup and a triumph in the UEFA cup. They also enjoy the unique distinction of never having been beaten at home in European competition.
The club currently plays in the Championship, one tier below the Premier League. Its famous old stadium, Portman Road, has a capacity of just over 30,000. In the 2016/17 league season, the average attendance was 18,000.
As with most modern sports stadia, match days at Portman Road involve much more than just selling tickets and cups of tea at half time. The club runs a sophisticated retail operation at its home ground, centred around the two-floor Planet Blue Superstore, which stocks a huge range of club-related merchandise and memorabilia. Footfall on match days can be extremely high, requiring a slick, efficient operation that can cope with spikes in demand.
The Right Touch
For the new system installation, Ipswich Town partnered with long-standing retail EPoS specialist Touchretail. “We’re early into our relationship with Touchretail,” said Lee. “We were recommended to them by our new eCommerce partner, Reading Room. They had previously worked together on additional projects within professional football. After an introduction, it was clear to see that Touchretail’s TRIMS software was extremely impressive, with stadium retailing taken into consideration.”
Founded in 2002 as Retail Accounting Solutions, Touchretail supplies software and system solutions across a wide retail industry footprint, including fashion, footwear, sports, gifts and departments stores. TRIMS – which stands for Touchretail Inventory Management System – is a highly flexible end-to-end solution which extends from warehousing operations management to sales processing, and also provides direct integration with eCommerce platforms.
Dave Joyce, area sales manager at Touchretail who has worked closely with Ipswich Town, explained more about the new solution provided. “In addition to supplying AURES Yuno till bundles, we delivered an advanced suite of products for inventory management in the form of TRIMS and complementary TouchPOS software throughout their stadium retail operation,” he said.
“Modules supplied ranged from advanced stock balancing elements such as ‘Max/Mins’ and automated stock re-ordering/replenishment, to comprehensive reporting suites for accurate business metrics. We also provided PoS enhancements such as our versatile ‘Kit Builder’ software which caters for stock-controlled customer shirt printing.”
“The system is a huge upgrade on our previous legacy system,” said Lee. “We have all of our reporting integrated into one solution offering us live data. We are able to process transactions in a much quicker timescale at peak times.
“The game-changer for us is the Kit Builder module. This enables us to create custom replica kits, including all personalisation across all of our EPoS and eCommerce channels, with the full ability to stock control each individual element. Our new eCommerce store is also fully integrated into our Touchretail software, ensuring fully inclusive stock management and reporting across all locations.”
While the majority of the club’s retail operations take place at the stadium superstore, it also runs a variety of kiosks and stalls around the ground on match days as well as seasonal pop-up stores. Touchretail also supplied four handheld devices loaded with the TRIMSm mobile app, which provides stocktaking, transfers, live store takings, stock lookup and barcode assignment capabilities on the move.
“We are able to eradicate a huge amount of manually intensive roles with the introduction of the new handheld devices,” said Lee. “These are great for warehousing and logistics operations. We feel the Touchretail solution offers everything we needed, with the potential development of further functionality which would be an added bonus.
“Touchretail’s assistance in migrating from our previous system has been exceptional. Their support and guidance was very impressive and since launch, their continued support to ensure everything is working correctly has been great. We’re excited to see what the future holds with such a flexible solution.”
To complement the new TRIMS platform, Touchretail also supplied 11 AURES Yuno till terminals. Dave explained that one of the primary requirements was to update flagging legacy systems with something fast and powerful enough to cope comfortably with peak demand on matchdays.
“The existing till units were becoming particularly slow to use and obviously speed at the point of sale is crucial, especially on match or event days,” he said. “So having hardware that met modern expectations was of primary importance. With SSD hard drives as standard and the excellent Bay Trail processor, Ipswich Town now has a more than capable, significantly improved performance platform in the shape of the AURES Yuno.”
“We had a very early discussion with our Touchretail account manager about our requirements,” said Lee. “The AURES EPoS hardware was recommended following these discussions, with a demonstration on-site backing up this recommendation. This allowed us to get hands-on with the EPoS, to see all the functionality and the simplicity in terms of training staff members throughout the migration to the new system.
As well as the Yuno units, Touchretail also supplied AURES ODP333 printers, cash drawers and scanners, plus customer-facing 10” back screens fitted to some of the EPoS units for digital signage and marketing.
“We were very impressed by the option to add customer facing screens, allowing for further marketing opportunities,” said Lee. “This, alongside the fast, responsive touchscreen and slick operation, made it a no-brainer for us.
“We replaced a 15-year-old legacy system with AURES EPoS. It was essential to have something tailored to modern retailing, quick, efficient, intuitive to use and at the same time robust enough to handle heavy volume at peak-times. The small footprint of the AURES units also gives us much more space at our service areas which will in turn allow more EPoS units in the same space.
“It’s early days, but the signs are great. The tills have been excellent so far. Our team of staff has really embraced the migration and love how simple the AURES EPoS is to use. They’re a really robust unit and have stood up to the test of peak-flow match days well so far. We haven’t noticed any performance issues at all. Our fans have commented on their smart style too, so it’s proving to be a win-win so far!”