In May 2011, Rail Gourmet were looking for an EPoS company to supply an off-the-shelf solution for on-board train catering. The requirement was for a system technologically advanced enough to handle mobile transactions, yet simple enough for crews to use with confidence.
Rail Gourmet selected the tried-and-tested RailPoS system from ECR Retail Systems. The hand-held terminals and built-in software offer dual capability of handling product sales as well as card payments through the same all-in-one unit. The system was extensively tested for compliance with Rail Operations Standards and compatibility with existing mobile networks.
RailPoS has been used extensively within the UK, and both ECR and Rail Gourmet had previously worked together to service mutual clients so understood each other’s processes well. Following extensive on-board testing, a pilot scheme went ahead with Irish Rail in 2012, on routes mainly running out of Dublin. Rail Gourmet recruited a new workforce with a focus on sales and service, and introduced concept menus on board.
ECR’s system comprises industry-leading on-board customer service solutions. The entirely mobile units are used throughout the train and link to the outside world via on-board WiFi (where available) or alternatively use mobile networks, both of which give good reliability connecting to and from the train.
The hand-held terminals themselves are PCI compliant to allow both on- and offline card transactions from within the unit. The terminals include a fast, silent thermal printer to issue receipts and a bar code scanner ensures fast and accurate product entry.
Each train could now be stocked and its manifest loaded via a touch screen. Retail transactions are logged on the system and all sales, stock, tender and operator information is then sent back to Rail Gourmet’s head office server based in Dublin.
The benefits of the system include:
- monitoring on-board catering performance, enabling Rail Gourmet to tailor products to customers by journey and time of day
- cost reduction through management of stock flows
- Rail Gourmet’s catering analysts can access extensive reports using the ECR reporting tool
- real-time replenishment prompts, reducing the need for manual completion of paperwork, meaning catering bars can stay open longer during a journey
- for passengers, the system also enhances customer service and presents a professional
Electronic data transfer means less paperwork; data is more timely and accurate, enabling more detailed management that aids decision making. Data mining is carried out via ‘touch of a button’ reporting on seasonal, weekly and even single-journey sales information.
The on-board system is easy to use and intuitive, with screens designed by Rail Gourmet head office. With complete visibility of every transaction made, Rail Gourmet can profile each route and use the available business intelligence for effective route planning and sales forecasting.
ECR’s devices offer Rail Gourmet the chance to improve the integrity of stock data and therefore reduce the incidence of over- or undersupplying a train with any given product line.
The trial was considered a great success by train crews and management and has was rolled out across all Irish Rail trains on the Dublin-Cork routes. This also included linking the system into Rail Gourmet’s Dublin and London head office.
“Our crew members actually request shifts on trains currently running ECR’s RailPoS system, praising its simplicity and ease of use.”
Ciaran Foley, Managing Director