The Students’ Union at UWE provide a number of bars and shops across multiple campuses, with an estimated annual turnover of £3m. All of this trading goes through a centralised EPOS system which has to work flexibly and reliably.
When I went into my role as IT & EPOS manager, I had a disconnected bar and retail database, outdated hardware which was proving unreliable and card payment machines which did not function properly and were not PCI DSS compliant. Working with senior management, I implemented a three year plan to refresh ageing hardware, increase security and expand our EPOS capabilities.
In the first three months of joining, I coordinated moving our main bar to a new £10m building, along with setting up a new shop. Working with network contractors and our EPOS provider, new tills were deployed in the shop and bars, along with new integrated card payment terminals. Remote tills were set up which the shop and bar can deploy at a moments notice with relative ease, allowing sales data and trends to be seen instantly which was never possible before.
One of the goals set was to create a Loyalty system, linking information from our 30,000 strong membership database and utilising student ID cards which every student has. NFC card readers were deployed and software was written to decrypt and decode the student ID number from the card and pass into the EPOS software. The organisation now has a functioning loyalty scheme allowing management to analyse, drill down and segment information which was never possible before, while increasing engagement with our services.
I led work on upgrading our card payment systems. When I joined, card machines in some of the shops were outdated, unreliable, expensive, did not accept contactless and were not PCI-DSS compliant. In our main shops and bars, integrated card payment terminals were deployed along with point of sale advertising and Apple/Android Pay support. I negotiated with card merchant providers to obtain a much improved card transaction and terminal hire fee, and agreed new terminals to be deployed in our smaller bars and shops. All of this has improved reliabilty dramastically
In the Summer of 2016, a new database was launched which combined the shop and bar databases. The new database has reduced unneccesary workloads, allowed even further integration with the Loyalty database and has improved reliability. The server now runs on a high availability clustered database server with a dedeicated application server. New tills were deployed to the main bar, further improving reliability and introducing new front display point of sale advertising to engage customers.