In May 2011, Rail Gourmet looked 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.
Rail Gourmet selected the tried-and-tested RailPoS™ system from ECR Retail Systems. The hand-held terminals and builtin software uniquely have the dual capability of handling product
sale as well as Chip and PIN payment through the same unit.
The system was extensively tested for compliance within Rail Operations Standards and compatibility with existing GPRS networks. RailPoS™ has been used extensively within the UK, and both ECR and Rail Gourmet had previously collaborated 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 mostly radiating from Dublin.
Rail Gourmet recruited a new workforce and now employs 180 people based at ten locations throughout Ireland. Significant effort has been focused on sales and service, with new concept menus
introduced 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 GPRS, both of which give very high transmission rates to and from the train.
The hand-held terminals are fully PCI compliant to allow both on and offline Chip and PIN transactions from within the unit.
The terminals include a fast and have integrated silent thermal printers to issue receipts. Their bar code scanners make product entry fast and accurate.
Each train is 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 in excess of 350 tailored 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 journeyenhances customer service and presents a professional image.
Electronic transfer of data means less paperwork; data is more timely and accurate, enabling more detailed management that aids decision making. Data mining is carried out via a bespoke ‘cube’ facility offering ‘touch of a button’ reporting on seasonal, weekly and even single-journey sales information, enabling accurate advance orders.
The on-board system is easy to use and intuitive, with screens designed by Rail Gourmet’s Head Office to reflect any menu changes. 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.
The purchase of the RailPoS™solution from ECR was ultimately driven by a desire to gain an accurate view of sales levels and full control over retail financials. ECR’s devices offer Rail Gourmet the chance to improve the integrity of stock data and therefore reduce the incidence of over or under supplying a train with any given product line.
The trial was considered a great success by train crews and management and has now been 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 Offices with a state-of-theart reporting tool for sales and stock analysis.
Ciaran Foley, Managing Director, Rail Gourmet Ireland, said:
“Our crew members actually request shifts on trains currently running ECR’s RailPoS™ praising its simplicity and ease of use.”