A payments solution that checks out for IGA

How four IGA stores turned to Till for automation, visibility - and competitive rates that dramatically reduced costs

Till Payments
"I oversee a team of only five people. Other groups have big teams, but we are a team of innovators, constantly trying new things, implementing new technology and automating tasks. We really rely on technology" - Dilip Bharati, CFO, Red Retail Group

It’s no surprise Dilip Bharati knows the supermarket business inside out. He’s been a checkout operator, a store manager and then, after finishing his accounting degree, became the in-house accountant at Red Retail Group, a franchise within the IGA network.

Today he is the CFO in charge of finance for four stores – two in Sydney and two on the NSW South Coast.

‘My primary role is to analyse cost savings across the entire Red Retail Group portfolio and provide the owner, Michael Whitehead, with granular, in-depth business analysis and planning.’

Recovering from the pandemic

COVID changed everything. Suddenly cash transactions were reduced, and card payments were increased massively. Like others, IGA customers were wary of close contact, and they started using the self-service lane more rather than going through the operator-staffed checkout.

But this had a knock-on effect for the business in quite a few ways – most notably a lack of visibility across the card transactions and fee associated with it, inefficient manual reconciliations, and a rapid rise in transaction costs.

The obvious imperative was to adapt. To think outside the square. And for this innovative CFO that meant ‘implementing new technology and automating tasks’.

So what was the ultimate solution?

How did IGA trade out of the impacts imposed by the pandemic?

Enter Till.

Solving the visibility problem

The core issue was that these IGA stores were using a different merchant solution for their EFTPOS payment system.

‘Our current POS supplier didn’t have a portal offering, so we didn’t have full visibility.’

And that was a problem for a CFO who needed accurate, up to date information, especially when more customers were using card payments system.

Till offered to solve his visibility problem and bring that missing POS information into IGA’s merchant portal, providing access to rich transactional data that could be searched quickly and easily.

‘Till even paid the POS provider to fix the credit card dissection reporting issue on self-service terminals so that IGA could get full oversight of their transactions across all their checkouts, both manned and self-serve.’

Saving the day with reconciliations

Just as IGA shoppers save with great value every day, Till saves its merchants too.

By automating the daily manual reconciliation process, and combining terminal amounts and reconciling against Till’s merchant portal, IGA now literally saves ‘stacks’ of time.

‘This used to take 1–2 days, but with this Till integration it now takes less then 30 minutes,’ added this obviously chuffed CFO.

And even better, there was also a positive employee experience worth noting. ‘Staff have also given great feedback, as this allows them to reconcile easily and search any transaction by type.’

All up, the digitisation of payments including the automation of reconciliations has resulted in measurable time savings (massive, really, when extrapolated annually) plus the less tangible, but equally important savings at the HR and staff culture level, where employees are demonstrably happier, less stressed by tedious, error-bound, manual tasks and almost certainly, more productive.

Reining-in transaction costs

The higher volume of card payments ‘really impacted our costs’, added Mr Bharati.

‘Particularly due to the pandemic, tap and go card payments increased significantly. Cash payments decreased but that meant our transaction costs multiplied – there were times we were paying over $10,000 per month just on transaction costs.’

In short, IGA was stuck with the uncompetitive rates charged by their bank. But again, Till was able to do things others couldn’t – or wouldn’t.

When your bank won't, Till will

‘We struggled with the level of service of some of our providers.

‘And, in terms of the decision-making process, we were looking for solutions for a long time.’

IGA’s original bank also offered Merchant Services, but ‘we were looking for competitive rates and Till’s rates were very competitive, resulting in almost half a significant reduction in costs.’

‘This was great as other banks usually say, “take it or leave it.”’

However, Till went even further

Smart, nimble problem-solving is at the heart of their merchant service offering but just as the hefty bank rates and poor visibility issues were paramount for Dilip Bharati, so too were settlement times and their impact on cash flow.

He had looked at another of the Big 4, but realised a move would mean sacrificing valuable cash flow benefits compared to Till’s same day settlements. Quite a factor if you trade 7 days a week like IGA.

‘Same day settlement was pretty key for us, and if we changed, we’d also need to change our banking, whereas Till didn’t require this.’

From competitive rates to value-adds like fast settlements, a digitised dashboard where everything’s in one place, and amazing technology, Till is definitely worth banking on.

Would these advancements get caught up the typical red tape and disrupt IGA’s day-to-day operations? Would they encounter trouble at the counter?

Everything was simple to implement

Till just ‘gets’ it. So when it comes to implementation, Till keeps it 100% simple.

In fact, at Till it’s called ‘simplementation’ – and it’s just what a busy supermarket required: no interruptions, high touch education of staff, fast installs and testing, and seamless integrations from end-to-end.

‘It can be difficult to embark on a process like this with companies like IGA because we really rely on trading without any customer interruptions’, noted Mr Bharati.

‘Till installed one terminal per lane at a time, flowed the customers through the remaining lanes, and then reopened the lane to live test the product and quality check.

‘The process took about 2 days across all 4 stores. The team started at 9am and by midday they were up and running. And Till ensured all staff were educated before leaving the premises.’

Simplementation also means seamless solutions that go way beyond easy terminal installations. For this time-poor CFO, Till removed the hassles of navigating the paperwork too.

‘Till’s team prepared all the forms for us,’ said a delighted Mr Bharati, ‘there were no headaches, and I didn’t even need to be around – no issues at all.’

So where to from here?

Dilip Bharati isn’t about to stop. Indeed, he is building his brand on the rock-solid foundation of Till’s proven payment technology, superior savings, and outstanding service.

‘Till is very reliable. It’s an extremely fast, very personalised, high touch service with tailored solutions focused on customer satisfaction.

‘The IGA end-customer experience has also been really beneficial. Till allows you to input your own logo which is really big for our customer so they can see it’s an IGA channel.'

Being a believer, this forward-thinking CFO is already in talks with Till about virtual terminals and has set his sights on the future and future growth – namely through online sales.

Get ready for him to lead the rest of IGA – and others in the supermarket FMCG ecosystem – into the exciting, exponential world of eCommerce.