"For five years now, J2 has been supplying us with space-efficient and practical EPoS units, ideal for our retail bakery environment. J2 hardware is very reliable and gives a long lifespan, so it really provides value for money."
Roy McDougal, Head of IT, Greggs
Formed as a family business on Tyneside in the 1930s, Greggs is today a FTSE 250 company employing over 20,000 people. It has over 1,570 Greggs’ shops, ten regional bakeries, and serves over 6 million customers each week.
Recent milestones include the opening of a new specialist confectionery bakery in Penrith and a new regional bakery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, an investment of £21million. The company is trialling a coffee shop concept, ‘Greggs Moment’, in Newcastle. Elsewhere, an agreement with a major frozen food retailer sees Greggs’ frozen sausage rolls now sold in their 700 stores, and a franchising relationship with a motorway services provider is being trialled.
Greggs offer a wide range of quality bakery food at great value prices. In 2011, the company opened a record 80 new shops, creating over 800 new retail jobs in the UK, and see the opportunity for over 600 new shops, creating over 6,000 new jobs, in the coming years.
Whilst Greggs has recently adopted what it refers to as its 4th generation J2 till, the J2 615, the relationship between Greggs and J2 Retail Systems dates back to 2006.
Explains Roy McDougal, Head of IT at Greggs: “In a lot of our shops, counter space is tight so were looking to partner with someone who could give us everything – all the I/O and CPU - in the head of the unit.”
Recalls McDougal: “J2 had a unit they could modify to do this and we ended up collaborating on a terminal with everything in the head that was bespoke-developed for us. We sat together designing and physically trying to make it work, so we really feel the system is ours!”
J2’s in-house designers developed thin-client hardware with pole and other mounting options to maximise the space available for customer service. Using flashcard technology negating the requirement for a hard drive, the system is completely solid state. The units have been designed around the innovative VIA chip set, which does not require a cooling fan. Adds Roy McDougal: “The result was a flexible, durable and competitively-priced system ideally suited to our busy retail bakery environment. The J2 solution is very reliable and needs very little ongoing maintenance, so is extremely cost effective.”
He continues: “J2 have positively affected our development and we’ve done the same for them. ‘All in the head’ is now J2’s trademark differentiator and, thanks to the quality of the EPoS they’ve supplied to us over 5 years, J2 have played a tangible part in our expansion. We’ve continued to work with J2 on designing new features, which have gone on to benefit the whole market.”
• By collaborating with J2, Greggs benefits from bespoke-designed touchscreens
• The fanless units cannot overheat and are practical for the higher temperatures generated by the ovens in Greggs shops
• Exceptional reliability results in little maintenance and cost-effectiveness
• The J2s offer longevity, with a 5-year lifespan achieved and 7 years confidently expected
• Flexible mounting means Greggs can optimise space and locate terminals on counters or on eye-level brackets
• The key elements of the J2 terminals are all in one place and are user-accessible, so shop staff can swap components and avoid downtime
In-house developed software runs on J2 hardware
The demands of a business of this scale and the expertise available inhouse have resulted in Greggs developing its own software, including for EPoS. “We could only go to EPoS because we don’t barcode our products. The majority of our products are freshly made in our shops and bakeries. With nothing barcoded, we needed touchscreen tills with the facility to have layers of products accessed through menu buttons.”
Other in-house developed systems cover communications, back-office applications including time-sheet recording, integrated cash sheets, and shop resource and merchandise planning.
Tight control on cost of ownership, both till purchase and maintenance, is important to Greggs. “Our goal is to use an entry-level till. Our application is not too resource-intensive so we don’t need a monster machine. Today, our tills are split between 1,000 J2 615s with Solid State Drives – which will eventually be our de facto model -, 2,500 J2 560s and some earlier models. Each year, we order a significant quantity of new machines, for replacement of older models and to equip new shops. “
Continues McDougal: “We aim get a 5-7 year life from every till. The longevity of the J2s is good and we’re certainly getting that lifespan. We like anything that can lengthen till life for us so as J2 bring out their newer technology screens, we’re always interested. At present, we like the modern look of J2’s bezel-free flat screen which came out recently.”
“We find the J2 tills the ultimate in flexibility. We can easily convert them ourselves to be flat counter-mounted, or mounted on the glass serving counters with the screen on a bracket at the server’s eye-level. Being fanless, the J2 tills can’t overheat.”
Also deployed at point-of-sale in every shop is integrated contactless payment and Chip and PIN card processing.
Hardware accessibility is another element that is important to Greggs. With 4,000 tills nationwide, it’s not always easy to get instant replacements in case of failure. “The J2s are designed so all the elements are in one place and are accessible. You can swap things out and we have people in the shops that are gifted and can do this.”
Concludes Roy McDougal: “In our experience, J2 are an open, trustworthy company, easy to work with. They’re always willing to give us advice and talk through new developments.”
Sector: Retail Bakery