Sandy Ellingson has been in the technology space for over twenty-five years. Having served as an accounting software consultant for many business clients over the course of her career, she possesses a unique understanding of accounting, point of sale and manufacturing software.

Sandy has helped her clients in various capacities ranging from providing technology advisory services for small ‘mom and pop’ shops, to corporate strategy for large organizations. It was that knowledge and expertise that led one of her friends, the Director of Retail Services at the Valley Rescue Mission, to asking for her assistance with the retail technology and operations for the organization.

The Mission

The Valley Rescue Mission is a large non-profit organization in Columbus, GA that sponsors various programs to affect change and aid the homeless, needy, and addicted. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for those who are afflicted with these circumstances, rehabilitate, and help them re-enter society as productive and healthy citizens.

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The mission has three main programs: A shelter where the homeless can stay for up to 180 nights per year free of charge, a nine to twelve month drug rehabilitation program for men and women, and a food program that provides free meals for families and individuals in need. They also host an annual children’s summer camp and a Christmas event that provides toys for thousands of children. Because the organization serves so many people and does not receive any government funding, it generates revenue through its retail stores . These retail stores sell donated goods from the community, and so must be as efficient as possible. With a new store opening, it was the perfect time to upgrade internal systems and improve the processes of the stores. The more money saved, the more services that can be offered.

The Valley Rescue Mission can provide meals for just $1.17 each. That’s less than $3.51 per day for 3 meals! Operating more efficiently and getting better information out of a new point of sale solution could provide for hundreds if not thousands of additional meals and services each year.

After spending some time learning more about the organization, Sandy felt that she could provide a solution that would make a positive impact on the store’s operations. “The Valley Rescue Mission can provide meals for just $1.17 each. That’s less than $3.51 per day for 3 meals ! Operating more efficiently and getting better information out of a new point of sale solution could provide for hundreds if not thousands of additional meals and services each year. Every little bit saved makes a difference ! ”, says Ellingson. When she started the project, the store was using an outdated Windows POS system that was over 15 years old, and could not provide them with mission critical data – they basically received only their daily sales totals. It also could not integrate with any other systems.

POS Search

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After some research, she settled on Shopify’s newly launched POS solution, but its utility for the mission was very short-lived. “If you’re just doing e-commerce, I’m sure Shopify is fine, but as a POS it was not mature enough. It lacked many mission critical features from an accounting standpoint . I felt I had done my due diligence on Shopify during my search , and they sufficiently answered my questions, but within 2 months , we discovered there was a major problem with getting adequate information that balanced for accounting” , said Ellingson. “We couldn’t get basic reports or perform really simple accounting functions. We couldn’t run 2 reports and get the same numbers.”

With those frustrations, Sandy was back on the POS hunt. This time she spent several weeks testing out the system that she was leaning towards, ShopKeep. “When I started looking at ShopKeep, I put Mark [my POS Specialist] through the wringer with questions about every specific feature, and he was awesome. It was truly a great experience from start to finish.”

The Results

Sandy was so impressed by ShopKeep during her trial run, that she not only implemented it at the rescue mission’s store, but also at several of her other clients’ stores. “When we launched ShopKeep at the first store, it was flawless. Once we figured out the best way to program our items to get the reports the way we wanted them, it worked perfectly. This model is reproducible in any retail organization – it just works”, said Ellingson. “This is important because many non-profits support their organizations in similar ways. I have seen the struggles they have in this area and am excited to finally be able to offer them an affordable and easy solution.”

Implementing a new point of sale system as a register is one challenge, but getting every user up to speed and familiar with the backend functionality is typically an even greater one. Sandy has found that to be false with ShopKeep. “Mark helped us find Retail Intel for Quickbooks integration with ShopKeep. We didn’t have to make any changes with accounting software since we were already using Quickbooks, everything just maps automatically. This one solution saves hundreds of labor hours each year not to mention preventing errors. The staff loved it!”

It’s really something that the nonprofit space hasn’t seen before. I can’t express how much of an impact ShopKeep is making for my non-profit clients where every dollar saved is one that goes back into saving the lives of individuals in need – every dollar matters.

Within just a few months, ShopKeep has more than made up for its investment. The mission has seen tangible financial results, which contribute directly back to the goal of helping more people everyday. “ShopKeep has saved us about $300 per week in accounting labor and $200 per week in retail labor, not to mention the upgrade in the point of sale experience for the cashiers and store managers”, says Ellingson. “The store manager can see where they are throughout the day from anywhere and just call the store to make the necessary adjustments. It’s really something that the nonprofit space hasn’t seen before. I can’t express how much of an impact ShopKeep is making for my non-profit clients where every dollar saved is one that goes back into saving the lives of individuals in need – every dollar matters.”


About the Author

Paul Nugent is a small business advocate, and Head of Marketing at ShopKeep point of sale’s UK headquarters. Paul uses his background in the startup space, along with his POS system expertise, to allow small business owners to make informed decisions within their specific budgets.