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The St Kilda Club

“The islands are a very long way from hands-on support, so I wanted a system that could provide me with real-time information whilst at the same time being straightforward and robust.”

Rob Gower, St Kilda Club Shop Convenor

The St Kilda Club shop, arguably the remotest shop in Britain, is a small gift shop situated on St Kilda 66 kilometres off the Outer Hebrides in the North Atlantic. A registered charity working closely with The National Trust for Scotland, the St Kilda Club provides the 5000 annual visitors an opportunity to take a souvenir or memento of their visit home with them. The shop stocks a wide variety of products including post and greetings cards, a range of clothes and hats, books, mugs, toys, tea towels and bags as well as numerous small items with the St Kilda name upon them. All profits from the shop go directly to funding conservation and restoration projects on the islands.

The appeal of St Kilda lies in its rugged grandeur and isolation. However the isolation can cause great difficulty when trying to run a successful gift shop with inventory management being very challenging. Access to the islands is entirely weather dependant meaning that it can be difficult to get stock over from the mainland. The shop’s small size limits the amount of stock it can hold and a spell of good weather at the height of the tourist season could result in some empty shelves. In the past, the volunteers and Rangers who run the shop have had to carry out a full stock take every couple of weeks and report the figures back to the shop’s Convenor, Rob Gower, on the mainland.

“The visitor numbers are very weather dependant and, in a spell of good weather, the shelves can empty very quickly. Previously, much time was spent by the Rangers and volunteers on the islands carrying out stock-takes throughout the summer to try to anticipate possible stock-outs.”

Rob Gower, St Kilda Club Shop Convenor

Rob looked to invest in an EPOS system that would address these stocking issues. The system also needed to be intuitive and easy to use as the volunteers running the shop would have little to no experience of using EPOS. Epos Now’s comprehensive back office reporting offered Rob the perfect solution for the Club's stocking issues, allowing him to access real time stock reports from his home, over 700 miles away from the gift shop. This has revolutionised the way the shop is run, ensuring the islands tourists are never disappointed. Rob is able to see which items are running low and need to be re-ordered in good time as well as analysing sales activity and purchase patterns. He is able to remotely change prices, add and delete products and even alter the colours and layout of the till screens.

The system's usability is highly commended by the volunteers who run the shop. The intuitive design means users require minimal instruction and get to grips with the system quickly. All stock is bar coded ensuring a smooth transaction process, with the customer receiving a fully itemised ‘St Kilda-branded’ receipt upon purchase. Volunteers and rangers can process card payments with ease, often to the surprise of their customers considering the isolated location. Epos Now’s UK based support team were also a great comfort to the gift shop staff, whose North Atlantic position makes it very difficult to access any hands on support.

“The EPOS has completely revolutionised the way we operate. The till is connected directly to the internet so all stock and transaction data is stored on-line. This means that I, down in Romsey, Hampshire - some 700 miles away – I can monitor the stock and till takings in real time”

Rob Gower, St Kilda Club Shop Convenor

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