Unable to support exponential business growth with existing manual-based processes for managing donations and retail store operations.
Implemented the UnifyPOS Point of Sale solution based on Progress OpenEdge to automate retail processes and provide real-time visibility into key financial and operational metrics.
One way Habitat for Humanity is helping to support its mission is through its ReStore improvement stores and donation centers. These facilities sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances to the public, at a fraction of the retail price. ReStores are owned and operated by local Habitat for Humanity affiliates, with proceeds used to build homes and communities, locally and worldwide.
The Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Lexington, KY recently looked to technology to optimize its ReStore operations by improving productivity to support exponential growth and, most importantly, maximize its contributions to support the organization’s mission. The team in Lexington was struggling to keep up with the volume of donations coming into its store. “We have an incredibly generous donor base, and they were bringing us more items than we could process, price and get out on the floor in a timely manner. Consequently, we were experiencing a big backlog in our receiving areas,” said Jim Kreiner, ReStore Director for Lexington Habitat for Humanity. “In addition, it was difficult to standardize processes across all of our volunteers when it came to evaluating products, establishing a price, discounting and so on. We needed a more sophisticated approach to running our business.”
After evaluating systems other Habitat ReStores use, as well as systems used by other non-profit leaders in the retail space, such as Goodwill Industries, Lexington Habitat decided on the UnifyPOS Point of Sale solution from Progress application partner Osprey Retail Systems Inc. Based on the Progress OpenEdge platform, UnifyPOS provides Lexington Habitat a completely automated approach to retail management, including pricing, discounting and sales, as well as real-time visibility into key business metrics.
“The Progress OpenEdge-based UnifyPOS system had a proven track record with impressive organizations within our industry, and the application has a reputation for being very reliable,” said Kreiner. “There was no doubt in our minds that this was the platform for us.”
According to Kreiner, implementation went smoothly. “We were able to get the system into production a couple of days ahead of schedule, because it was just such a seamless transition,” he said.
After using UnifyPOS and Progress OpenEdge for just over a year, Kreiner said the changes to the business have been dramatic. Last year alone, the Lexington Habitat ReStore sold 250,000 items.
“We’ve gone from being swamped to having a defined process,” said Kreiner. “Our business has continued to grow and we are now able to keep up with ease with UnifyPOS and Progress OpenEdge. In fact, we shattered our previous record for drop-off donations in a single day, and we had no problem processing those items.”
Kreiner continued, “We are handling about 30 percent more donors, and doing so far more quickly and efficiently. We beat our net sales projection for December 2014 by 50 percent and expect to continue to see year-over-year sales growth in 2015.”
Real-Time Access to Metrics and Alerts Reduces Risk, Improves Decision Making
Lexington Habitat now has real-time access to key performance metrics. “I used to have to ask our financial department to go through paper financial records to provide us with information such as year-over-year sales, number of donors, number of items sold, loss prevention metrics and so on. It could take literally months to get the information,” said Kreiner. “Now, with the push of a button, I can view the data I need in order to make more informed business decisions and make adjustments to optimize our business thanks to UnifyPOS and Progress OpenEdge.”
These capabilities have led to a dramatic improvement in loss prevention. “It is important that we are able to respect our donors’ intent,” said Kreiner. “Being able to configure rules for voids, returns, discounts, markdowns and so on has improved loss prevention tremendously. For example, if a cashier breaks any of the defined rules, the system alerts management immediately. In the near future, we plan to implement Osprey’s mobile application, built with Progress Mobile, which will enable us to push an alert to a manager’s mobile device in real time.”
Solution Boosts Employee Productivity and Donations
Employee productivity has increased significantly now that the team can eliminate manual tasks such as tagging items and completing sales transactions. For example, where cashiers once had to figure out discounts based on tag color, the system now scans a tag and calculates the correct price automatically. The solution empowers employees and reduces confusion, enabling managers to focus less on answering questions and more on managing the store and staff.
Lexington Habitat plans to expand the store in the near future, and at that time, Kreiner will take advantage of the UnifyPOS mobile application. “Like anybody else in the non-profit world, we handle a lot of different jobs and responsibilities,” he said. “I’m really supposed to be out, trying to get more donations in and building alliances in the community. It’s tough to do that if I’m at the store. Having access to mobile data will enable me to manage the store from the field.”
Additionally, Lexington Habitat has found the round-up feature in UnifyPOS particularly beneficial. This feature enables cashiers to ask customers if they would like to round up their purchase to the nearest whole dollar, during the transaction. Lexington Habitat also has sponsors willing to match customer round-up donations. “We have already raised almost $9,000 with the round-up feature in just one year, and we expect this feature alone to account for a 100 percent ROI on our UnifyPOS and Progress OpenEdge investment,” said Kreiner.