Making the Most of the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time for giving. Clever marketing campaigns that rely on sentiment and nostalgia instil a sense of communal generosity. More attention is brought to people in need and we often find ourselves with a yearning to help.

Because of this, Christmas is an excellent time for charities to encourage feelings of goodwill and capitalise on the festive spirit. There are numerous things charities already do to boost donations around the holidays such as selling Christmas cards, encouraging re-gifting and running Christmas themed marketing campaigns.

But in what ways can charities be more innovative and keep customers, volunteers and donors engaged over the busy holiday period?

Here are just a few ideas:

Offer a wrapping service

We see various retailers offer wrapping services for an extra charge, yet very few charity shops choose to do it themselves. Charity shops have a plethora of great gifts from vintage clothes, to antiques, to vinyl records; any one of which could make fantastic presents for friends and family. Simply asking customers if they would like their items gift wrapped would be a fantastic way to make a bit of extra money.

Contact local businesses

Many businesses already partake in charity events, and Christmas can be an excellent opportunity to reconnect with local supporters. Reaching out to local businesses in the area reminds them of your charity’s presence and all the great work you do for the community. Focusing your communication on a specific Christmas appeal can really boost revenue, especially when coupled with an offer of a specific thanks to the company as part of a charity newsletter, display in a local shop, or even a short article in a local newspaper.

Intermittent volunteers

Let people know that volunteering just for a day, even for a couple of hours, is still very beneficial for your store. While they have time off over the Christmas period, people may be more inclined to lend a helping hand where they can. Assigning tasks such as picking up donations, wrapping presents or organising stock are all time consuming but essential tasks that require little training to be completed – perfect for someone who can only volunteer for a day or two!

Christmas sales

Every retailer has a Christmas sale and it’s one of the best ways to attract people into store. Having discounts before and after Christmas will increase footfall as well as enable you to clear out old stock in time for the New Year. This can easily be done by marking items with a specific sticker to indicate which items are on sale so there’s no need to spend time repricing goods.

Additional pick-up services

Services that pick-up donations from donors’ houses have been proven to increase the number of overall donations and improve Gift Aid contributions. Christmas is a busy time of the year for all so people will have less time to take unwanted items into store. However, they are more likely to have unwanted items to donate with many having a Christmas clear-out to make way for their new belongings. Putting on extra services where needed, for example at weekends when UK taxpayers are most likely to be home, is going to be more convenient for donors and encourage further giving.

As the Christmas season unfolds festive spirit is only going to increase. Thinking outside the box will contribute to building brand loyalty and maximising engagement, and keeping ideas fresh will help to increase donations and potential volunteers. Not all of these ideas will work for everyone, but picking one or two to focus on will help make sure that you and your charity really do make the most of Christmas.

Restaurant Technology Becoming Vital

Restaurant Technology Becoming Vital

It has recently been reported that 79% of diners believe that restaurant technology improves their guest experience.

The recent study of 1,115 diners revealed that most people value the use of technology in restaurants, saying that it positively impacts their dining experience. The survey found that technology had the largest impact in Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) such as Subway or McDonald’s.

The second most important factor of the dining experience, after delicious food, was quality service, followed by how quickly diners receive their orders and how quickly they can pay the bill. Diners suggested that the use of technology improves the speed at which they can receive and pay for their food, with 62% of diners using mobile ordering at least once a month.

New research from Barclaycard has also reported that brits are becoming more demanding in restaurants, claiming that 56% of dining choices are changing mostly for convenience and 37% prioritise quick service over value or menu choice.

Due to such changes in eating out, with the emphasis being on convenience and speed, the sector has a huge demand for the investment in new technologies in restaurants of all kinds.

Many restaurants now allow for mobile ordering through companies such as Deliveroo or JustEat and large QSR chains like McDonald’s have taken the step into introducing technology more prominently within the restaurant with kiosk ordering to quicken payment. However, we very rarely see casual restaurants embracing the use of new and innovative technologies and with 49% of people becoming impatient when left to wait too long to pay at the end of their meal, it appears the demand for technology in restaurants is growing.

Simple paying options such as the ability to pay through a mobile phone, by using a bank card or through PayPal for example, could be an easy way to keep customers happy. Other such technologies such as contactless payment at the table, built into a cloud-based tablet system that displays the correct order amount per table could also be useful. Simpler still, apps that split the bill quickly and easily to provide a quicker and more convenient experience for those wishing to pay separately.

Although quickening food delivery may be trickier – food can only cook so quick – the process from ordering to receiving could be streamlined substantially through the use of automated kitchen management systems. These allow the order to be displayed immediately after being taken, with no need for waiters to walk to and from the kitchen whilst also ensuring no discrepancies are made in handwriting, amounts, and alterations to a meal.

All employees, owners or otherwise, who work in hospitality know that creating customer loyalty is a key aspect to success within the industry. Customers have to leave happy – not disgruntled by long waits. Thus, as we see the restaurant industry moulding around convenience, technology must be considered as a vital necessity rather than a luxury.

The Importance of Communication in Charity Retail

The Importance of Communication in Charity Retail

Communication has long been regarded as the key to success for many organisations. Effective communication with staff and with customers is of huge importance to ensure people feel engaged and involved. With charities, the importance of communication is even greater; unless the core message is clearly communicated the support that charities depend upon will soon disappear.

For many charities the focus is on external communication – to donors and other supporters. But internal communication, to and from staff and volunteers, is just as important. People need to feel valued, listened to, and involved if their enthusiasm is to be sustained. For smaller organisations, this is simpler; people have the opportunity to speak face-to-face and most staff and volunteers will have a direct line of communication to a senior member of the organisation. But as a charity grows, these clear communication lines can become distorted or lost altogether.

 This is a people problem, but there are ways that we can use introduce technology to support and improve lines of communication as a charity grows. Choosing the right technology is important – deliver a solution which relies on everyone being a regular smartphone user and you are destined to failure. Even assuming that people have an email address which is checked regularly could be one supposition too far. What if there were a device which all your volunteers were comfortable using and with which they interact multiple times a day? What if you could start using your POS to communicate directly with your volunteers? The prime benefit is that you’re not asking volunteers to seek out new information – you have the means to seamlessly integrate it into their day-to-day routine.

Let’s take a look at the main channels of communication and how they can be enhanced through technology

Central communications

Communication from head office to the “ground troops” working in their shops is essential, but varies greatly in effectiveness. The most common group communication we see is the internal newsletter. Unfortunately producing an engaging, professional-looking newsletter is a cost that most charities will be unwilling or unable to bear, and we are told that such efforts often go largely unread.

By using the POS as a portal to communicate with volunteers, charities can quickly and simply deliver high-quality messaging through a piece of equipment that most volunteers already use every day. A newsletter which is easily accessible from the POS can reinforce the charity’s core messages, carry information on current campaigns, and keep staff updated on changes within the organisation. We can even start thinking outside of the box by including rich interactive content such as animations or even videos.

It’s important to realise that this now does not have to be a one-way street; volunteers can use the POS to communicate feedback and queries to head office. Positive feedback and success stories can be picked out and recommunicated to all shops in an area, becoming a conveyor belt of good news that reinforces the message that volunteers are highly valued by the organisation. 

Between Shops

Communication between stores can be difficult to achieve. Setting up regional meetings is challenging and it is not unusual for volunteers to have little or no contact with each other outside of their specific shop. Even where regional meetings are successful, the interactions are often fleeting – it can be hard to capture the value which has come out of conversations.

facility on the POS which enables and encourages communication between shops allows volunteers to build an important sense of community and belonging. Postings or forums can allow volunteers to discuss ideas or share best practice, letting all shops benefit and helping volunteers to tackle and overcome problems. Automated bulletins can give shops the ability to share specific customer requests or ask for items which sell particularly well in their stores, boosting sales and customer satisfaction. 

In store

How many of your stores have a fine collection of hastily scribbled notes? From reminders to phone numbers to “Dave said he’d pop in on Tuesday” – it’s not the most reliable way for shifts to communicate with one another. Memory and habit can keep a store running well for a while, but it’s a fragile situation – illness and staff turnover can quickly leave you stranded and unable to trade effectively. 

A structured virtual noticeboard on the till gives your shifts a handy place to leave “to-dos” and informational notes, and has the added advantage that they are searchable and won’t pick up coffee stains. Going one step further, the ability to set up check lists for in store processes such as the end of day means that there’s an easy reference to ensure things don’t get overlooked. It also provides a great opportunity for less confident staff to step up to positions of more responsibility – the ability to quickly run down a checklist of the tasks needed to close up the store gives them confidence that they’re doing the right thing. From the point of view of head office, the knowledge that there’s consistency in operations gives a confidence that all shops are running to maximum efficiency.


Nobody disputes the importance of communication between all branches of an organisation. Historically thishas been difficult to effectively deliver, hampered by the dual prongs of inconsistent takeup of technology on one hand, and the cost and effort needed on the other. Using the POS system – a familiar, regularly-used feature of the store – to enable frictionless communication at all levels effectively addresses both of these concerns, and can begin to truly unlock the skills and knowledge present at all levels of your charity.

Simplify Stressful Data through Business Intelligence

Business intelligence

The hospitality industry has often been recognised as one of the most fast-paced and stressful environments to work in. Trying to lead within this industry often requires long and irregular hours with few days off in-between. Juggling an enterprise of restaurants can be extremely difficult, but keeping track of staff, stock and sales is not without its rewards. It has been largely accepted that business data analysis is fundamental to the success of any organisation.

With time a premium, the last thing you need is to have to spend hours trawling through masses of data to keep your business running smoothly. Fortunately, the popularisation of technology within the hospitality sector has helped soothe many of the concerns surrounding collecting and dealing with large amounts of data. Advanced EPOS and Business Intelligence software can ease your work-life stress and complete many of these menial tasks for you.

Here are just three ways your EPOS and BI software can simplify data to improve your hospitality organisation.

Visibility of transactions

Being able to view any transaction at anytime from anywhere can be a huge advantage when you need to know exactly what is going on while you’re not there. Not only does it let you know which employee is selling which product, but also gives you insights into potential fraudulent transactions.

BI can alert you to an unusual amount of price overrides or voids to ensure that all your sales are legitimate. One common report of fraud within the hospitality sector is employees ringing food through and then voiding or refunding the sale and taking the food without paying. Another example includes employees refunding transactions in order to give their friends and family free food, or even voiding a legitimate sale and keeping the cash. BI software helps to highlight these situations, letting you know which member of staff could be committing fraud and making sure your sales data is in order.

Track stock levels

Keeping an eye on your stock levels is not only important for making sure you’re not wasting money but also to guarantee that out-of-stock items are not being sold by employees. Having a full and up to date stock inventory available means that staff can let customers know immediately when something is not available. This provides a smoother selling system and ensures customer satisfaction.

Tracking stock levels also allows you to see any disparities in stock. If something is going missing at the same time each week, for example, then it becomes clear where the stock is going. Perhaps you have ended up with more items of something you previously thought sold quite well, indicating what items on your menu need altering, removing or further marketing.

Monitor employee productivity

Knowing which members of staff are best at what tasks allows you to take full advantage of your team’s skills. Keeping an eye on where they excel means that each employee can be situated within a job role that is most comfortable for them whilst also increasing your restaurant’s productivity.

Most important of all, monitoring employee behaviour alongside sales data allows you to see when your busiest times of the day are so that you can have the right amount of staff working at the right times. This will prevent unnecessary labour costs by ensuring you’re not overstaffed while also having the optimal number of employees working to maximise your busy selling periods and maintain a smooth service.

Business Intelligence and advanced EPOS systems have many other benefits in departments across your organisation including marketing, finance and HR. These are just three main ways business data can be simplified and utilised to suit your needs and optimise the running of your hospitality business.

PXtech forms joint venture focusing on the Midlands hospitality sector

Derby-based PXtech, the expert in the tailoring and delivery of EPoS and business intelligence software, is embarking on a Midlands hospitality campaign after forging a partnership with a leading Point of Sale solutions provider ICRTouch.

Through its partnership with EPoS software and systems specialist ICRTouch, PXtech’s knowledgeable support team is set to help countless businesses in the hospitality sector to work more smartly and smoothly, and project a professional image to customers.

From takeaways and cafes to fine dining establishments, all can get real benefits from the way the latest ICRTouch front end EPOS solutions will be coupled with the PXtech back office business intelligence and hardware. The complete solution will provide a full end to end ecosystem for the customer to manage their hospitality business effectively.

PXtech’s clients will benefit from a solution that has had 20 years of development time invested alongside continual updates as the industry has evolved. ICRTouch solutions have proven reliability across an install base of 100,000 that is continuing to expand.

Richard Dorf, CEO at PXtech, said: “It’s not unusual for many businesses in the hospitality sector to operate back-office systems on a variety of platforms, often with disparate and sometimes outmoded hardware. PXtech specialises in providing effective, results driven solutions to give businesses greater control and insight, and help them profitably grow.”

ICRTouch and PXtech were introduced a number of years ago on a retail project that both companies were involved with. More recently, PXtech has found a need to strengthen its hospitality offering and ICRTouch was an obvious choice based on our past success together.”

Richard added: “Reliable and harmonious technology is essential to your business if you want to maximise profits. Not only does it provide a more practical way of trading but also brings many other benefits too.

“The right EPOS solution can help you keep track of employee productivity, stay in control of stock levels, and spot (and stop) potential fraudulent activity. If used correctly, the right technology can help you to significantly boost ROI – a must for any hospitality business!”

Chris Newte at ICRTouch added: “Having completed a successful pilot project, we see a huge benefit that could come from two market-leading EPOS solutions providers working together to provide high quality products and a great service to customers.”

The new joint venture will look to target SMEs, multi-site groups and high-profile hospitality clients across the Midlands.


For further information please contact Murray Carmichael-Smith, on 07973 156 911 or email