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University of Sheffield

MCR Systems and The University of Sheffield Genius card

MCR Systems SymPAY delivers integrated EPOS, Loyalty and Cashless Payments

The Commercial Services department is responsible for the operation of a wide range of catering and hospitality facilities across the University including bars, restaurants, coffee shops, private function rooms and traditional dining rooms.  Services provided include prepaid student dining, restaurant dining, delivered catering and conference and function service.

At present the Commercial Services Department operates catering facilities at around sixteen locations, serving over 26,000 students and 7,000 staff.

The Commercial Services department operates throughout the year. Term time activity consists of department, staff, student & day conference business and during vacation periods this turns towards more residential conferences and function business.

After winning the contract at Sheffield, MCR had only six weeks to implement 34 networked J2 630 touchscreen EPOS terminals, deliver a bespoke web portal to load funds for cashless payments and integrate the portal with their existing web-payment solution, delivered by WPM.

Cashless payment covers catered students, conference delegates and general student and staff use. The integrated SymPAY Loyalty solution was introduced the following year with great acceptance by students and Staff. 
Over 30 integrated Verifone Vx820 chip & pin terminals were installed providing contactless payment capability.

Later in the relationship MCR, in conjunction with Kinetics Solutions, supplied an interface to provide automated conference and hospitality charges streamlining the administration process and automating client invoicing.

Over the last 18 months the Catering and Hospitality team have gone live with the MCR Stock Manager application, which allows them the ability to place predictive orders based on historical sales, calculate stock holding in multiple locations, manage their deliveries and invoices along with recipe and menu control.

Summer 2014 saw the full implementation of SymPAY combining EPOS Loyalty and cashless payments, the aim was to provide a better service and experience to students and staff with a goal to increase trade and net profit. The implementation of loyalty with vouchers and mobile phones allowed for a wide variety of different offers trialling 26 different offers in the first few months.

Mark Cawkwell-Blunn IT and Business Systems Manager commented, "We tried hard to focus on targeted marketing, getting the right vouchers to the right people. The MCR SymPAY software gave us the ability to be much smarter in our communication with students and staff. The administration was easy ensuring that we could create offers in a proactive fashion stimulating high volumes of impulse purchases."

Services Provided:

  • MCR provided all Project Management, consultancy, implementation and training services, integration to SAP Finance and Kinetics
  • MCR provide seven day a week Support & Maintenance including a local on site engineer and quarterly system upgrades
  • Account Management

The Sheffield Management team contribute to regular user workshops and attend the MCR Systems annual user conference

Mark Cawkwell-Blunn, IT and Business Systems Manager at Sheffield University provided the following statistics regarding the use of Loyalty at the site.
"We have done a comparison of 2011/12 with 2012/13 looking at the impact of the Rewards system. We have not done one for 2013/14 as we haven't finished the year yet."

  • Sales 2011/12 (like for like)  £1,396,780    *** No rewards this year
  • Sales 2012/13 (like for like)   £1,600,228    *** First year offering rewards
  • Increase in sales  £203,448
  • Allowing for 3% inflation -£6103
  • Adjusted sales £197,345  

 Cost of Rewards

  • Cards (-£16,500)
  • Points (-£103,000)
  • System (-£5,000)

Sales adjusted for cost of rewards £72,845                
 £72,845 represents a 5.2% increase in sales, this is after taking into account the major costs of the rewards system (branded Mifare cards, cost of points redeemed, additional MCR costs related to rewards system).

Points to bear in mind:

  • This is a 'like for like' comparison. Only 7 outlets traded in both years and were running the rewards system.
  • It is expected that the rewards system will maintain the increase in sales, as it is now 'expected' by customers. The next work to increase sales is Vouchers an understanding customer behaviour (through being able to interrogate the data we have collected over the last 3 years)

2013/14 year has not completed yet, so analysis at this stage will not be accurate.