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University of Birmingham

The 4th  largest in the UK, the University of Birmingham is a founder member of The Russell Group. With around 35,000 students and 7,500 staff, the University spans across 280 acres and is a pioneer amongst academic institutions. The University was the first to create a purpose-built Student Union, to establish the Medical School and Faculty of Commerce and contributes around £1bn to the local economy.


Partners in growth

With incredible growth over the years, the previous EPOS system was unable to cope at times. This need for reliability and scale prompted the University to seek a new, robust platform with increased functionality.

The University needed a system that supported both day to day transactions of the student body and visitors, as well as full 'cashless' functionality and electronic loyalty schemes. Their original EPOS software and hardware was unable to offer both cashless and loyalty products together from the same platform. With over 13,000 transactions per day, a major goal was to increase the speed of transactions across all sites and outlets.


Tight timings

After receiving the completed agreement to proceed with the project on 6th July 2017, MCR had 8 weeks to get all the EPOS terminal hardware set-up, delivered and installed. With strict academic year timetables, both the University and MCR had to be extremely agile and flexible to prevent being delayed until the next academic year.



To achieve the necessary requirements, the university needed:

  • a reliable yet flexible EPOS system with associated peripherals to replace their existing set up.
  • a cashless solution in the form of a 'Cashless Wallet' was a key requirement for their 'Meal Plan' students.
  • a 'Business Wallet' for the universities staff members.
  • internal hospitality account charging

MCR were able to offer all the required functionalities through their SymPAY module, which both utilises the existing student/staff ID cards, as well as providing a compatible mobile app for identification of the customer at the point of sale.


Less admin and stronger reporting

Nic Mander, Director of Catering at the University found the efficiency and strength of the reporting platform to be a major USP for the MCR System. Being able to generate automated weekly business reports directly to senior stakeholders saves time and resource. This deeper glance at business effectiveness (for example the wastage report, daily unit sales and weekly business information reports which are created) allow multiple departments to operate in a much more efficient manner. This combined with more robust hardware and a more stable operating platform were key elements.

At the core of the new system is MCR's renowned Symphony Enterprise software, powered by the cloud, providing the data administration tools to manage products, prices, promotions and all other EPOS functionality across the estate, at the push of a button.


Seamless integration to third party platforms

As a further requirement, MCR were also able to offer integration to the University's Stock and Procurement Package 'Saffron', which was supplied by Fretwell Downing Hospitality; as well as the existing Loyalty programme currently supplied by YoYo. 

MCR also integrated with Kinetics software Kx for charging to room accounts. What started as a simple, off-the-shelf solution, this integration has been extended to include event charging, a bespoke development carried out by MCR, specifically created and tailored to the University.


More About the Hardware

With over 75 tills in different locations, the best fitting hardware was the ultra-small and reliable Nino II Terminal (with new Windows 10 Operating System). A compact (able to fold fully flat) and flexible (can be used as a console, on its base or mounted on a wall) EPOS system, this terminal is perfectly suited to a project such as the University's.

With the Nino II Terminal, MCR paired the Cielo Tablet running SymPOS software with the Retail MCX-300 Dock. The dock transforms the Cielo Mobile Tablet into a fully-equipped, rotating point of service. The beautifully designed equipment is fully secure with access to a wide range of POS connectivity and charging; with optional tablet lock, MSR and fingerprint reader. It includes 6 x USB ports, 1 x HDMI port,1 x Ethernet port and, most importantly to the University's requirements - extensive retail connectivity for cash drawers, scanners and printers.

Not only are the hardware solutions robust, reliable and slim-line, our Nino terminals also have low carbon footprints and energy consumption proactively supporting the University's environmental beliefs.


Next steps

Since the project's launch, the University and MCR have been working together to implement the voucher creation and redemption programme which creates electronic cash value vouchers and end to end audit trails. Set to launch in May 2018, we are sure this will be another successful implementation.

The University is also due to open a 170-bedroom hotel and conference centre in Summer 2018, and MCR has been selected as the EPOS provider to integrate alongside another 3rd party company "Guestline Reslynx" to enable guests to post food and drink transactions made in the bar or restaurant, onto their room account. 

Nic Mander Director of Catering at the University said "It's been encouraging seeing the system in use. Catering staff on the sales floor have given good feedback, and after initial nervousness find the system easy to use and navigate. Overall, we are happy with how it's come together"