Good Foods Co-op is a locally owned and operated natural products market and café with two locations in Lexington, Kentucky. Their main location is Good Foods Market and Café, an expanding store with complete market, customer service department and 2,825 square foot café. In 2004, they opened a downtown café located in the Lexington Public Library called Good Foods Chapter 2.
Good Foods installed the ECRS CATAPULT System with CATAPULT Membership Server (CMS) in the fall of 2008. The installation of a new point-of-sale (POS) system designed with specific cooperative functionality has helped Good Foods continue growth, provide better customer service, effectively manage membership and improve the flow of store operations, front-to-back. ECRS recently interviewed Front-End Manager, Sheryl McCoy, about the implementation of CATAPULT and the benefits the system has provided for their cooperative business.
What Exactly is a Cooperative?
Cooperatives are an alternative form of business. Customers buy shares in the co-op to become Owners. As with most co-ops, at Good Foods the Owners elect a co-op board who hire and oversee the General Manager. The board determines the overall the vision and direction of the co-op, and the General Manager carries out those directives. Profits earned are given back to Owners in reasonable return and remaining profits are put into the community and back into the co-op itself.
Co-ops range in the way they operate, but all co-ops contain the following elements:
- Co-ops are owned and controlled by the primary users (customers)
- Co-ops operate democratically
- Co-ops are businesses, not clubs or associations
- Co-ops adhere to internationally recognized principles of co-ops
Co-ops operate under principles that are unique t this business type. Among other ideals, they stress equality, community concern, education, and member economic participation.
The Unique Qualities of Good Foods Co-op
Good Foods Market and Café is different from your average health food or grocery store. Besides being a customer-owned co-op, they stress organic products & ingredients and heavily promote local products both in their market and café. The co-op is communityfocused and community-operated with great emphasis placed on local involvement and education.
Customer service is extremely important to the success of Good Foods. The purpose of this unique business is to serve the needs of their membership and community. Because customers own the co-op, meeting service expectations such as knowing people’s names, providing accurate, fast check-outs and maintaining extensive product knowledge are more important than ever. As Sheryl reiterates,
Providing the best customer service differentiates us from the rest of the marketplace.
“Before we installed CATAPULT, to find specific information, we would have to manually scroll through every transaction from the day. We had no way to get cashier comparison reports or search specific transactions without going through every single transaction. It was a nightmare. Nobody has time for that. The variety of ways we can now filter for information is amazing. It’s ridiculously easy.”
An important initiative for Good Foods is their keen awareness and implementation of environmentally-friendly operations. They are currently undergoing a major renovation where this is becoming even more prevalent. A large part of their green initiative involves reduction in paper use at both locations. CATAPULT has helped them achieve great results in this area.
Explains McCoy, “Prior to CATAPULT we were mailing paper billing statements to all of our Owner/Members. We do not send any more paper statements. This is all automated through the POS at the time of purchase. When an owner checks out and their account is pulled up, their balance due will automatically appear on the screen alerting the cashier that they need to make a payment. Balances are paid at the POS. It can all be completed in one transaction with other merchandise they wish to purchase, easily and efficiently.”
Good Foods also uses electronic signature capture for credit/debit transactions. This saves the paper signature receipts they previously printed for such transactions. All customer signatures are now stored electronically within the system and are easy to find if needed. The receipt printing functionality can be modified to print only upon customer request for all transactions, regardless of tender, thus preventing excess paper waste for unwanted receipts.
Barcode-scannable CATAPULT gift cards have eliminated the use of paper gift certificates and tedious mag-stripe cards that needed to be replaced on a continuous basis. There are no transaction fees associated with the use of the gift cards, so useful co-op money isn’t being sent to a third-party provider or host service.
“Magnetic stripes that were used on our previous cards were a horrible pain,” said McCoy. “The cards wouldn’t swipe forcing us to figure out the available balance and provide new cards to customers.”
Goods Foods also chose to install ECRS’ complete energy-efficient hardware solution including Freedom Panel Touch POS, customer display monitor, signature capture device, receipt printer, scanner/scale and battery backup. The entire cashier POS lane consumes less energy than a standard 100 watt light bulb.
CATAPULT Technology –
Helping Co-ops Succeed
When explaining the benefits CATAPULT has provided to their busy co-op, McCoy stressed the benefits of cashier touchscreens and CATAPULT Membership Server (CMS) functionality.
Good Foods uses customized touchscreen layouts for every department in their stores. They created different layouts for their customer service department, market, café and Chapter 2 location. Creating specialized menus for each department has made it easier for cashiers to ring sales, ensure transaction accuracy and provide faster customer checkouts. They have been able to eliminate the majority of printed pricing sheets and roll/flip charts at the POS by building menus and customized buttons from PLUs. They now have considerably less open rings, especially in their café.
“Employee discounts, automatic profile set-up, manual discounts, Owner case discounts, Owner Discount Days, special promotions such as discounts if you bring in your own mug for coffee, paid out functions for bag refunds…”
It’s all automated within the system and built into our POS menus for simplified training and customer check-out.
Front-End Manager, Good Foods Co-op
Good Foods Market and Café has significantly improved their overall scan rate allowing for more accurate data, pricing and sales reports. They are currently operating with a 99.2% scan rate. This was once a lingering problem area, especially in their café department. Improving the scan rate also lessens the chance for human error and improves accountability.
CMS and multistore functionality have helped ensure that all sales and profit data is being reported and placed into the appropriate co-op fund. Previously, McCoy explained that their Chapter 2 location was unable to track Owner-sales. Everything in the second location was completely manual before CATAPULT. Consequently, these sales were not being credited to their Accrued Patronage Fund. All sales for both locations are now being properly tracked and automatically placed into the appropriate fund. This level of automation and simplicity makes their Accounting team very happy. “We can now encourage our Owners to grab lunch in the downtown café and ensure that their purchases are being accurately accounted for,” explains McCoy.
The flexibility of this system is just amazing. We analyzed the specific functions we needed every register to perform and set it up accordingly. It has saved us so much time and energy.
One of the most noticeable changes since installing the CATAPULT system with CMS is efficient member management. Prior to CATAPULT, the Customer Service department would keep a large book filled with all Owner membership information. If the Owner forgot their membership number at the POS, the transaction would be handled in one of three ways:
- The cashier would call the Customer Service desk and someone would bring over the book and manually search for the correct number and manually enter it at the POS.
- The cashier would suspend the transaction and send the Owner to the Customer Service desk to get his/her number, write it down and bring it back to continue the original transaction. Because of functionality issues, the original suspended transaction would sometimes give incorrect totals after being resumed. Cashiers would try to avoid suspending transactions due to this problem.
- They would proceed ringing the transaction as normal and then make a note for Customer Service to manually associate the Owner number with the specific sale after the fact.
The book is now gone. All Owner membership information is stored electronically and easily accessible from any POS, workstation or service desk throughout the store. If an Owner forgets their scannable ID card or number, the cashier can simply search by last name at the POS. The Owner and all account information is automatically associated with that transaction. If for some reason the transaction must be suspended, CATAPULT’s Suspend/Resume feature allows the transaction to be completed at any other store register.
In addition to keeping track of Owner account and sales information, the functionality of CATAPULT’s powerful reporting features allow them to save time and access critical data.
The Good Food Solution
- ECRS Freedom Panel POS with scanner/scale, signature capture, receipt printer & Customer Information Display (CID)
- ECRS CATAPULT Appliance Server (CAS)
- CATAPULT Membership Server (CMS)
- Integrated CATAPULT Gift Card
CATAPULT is a very user-friendly software. Dealing with the complexities of Ownership/Membership can require a lot of energy and manpower. This system saves all of that time and energy. CATAPULT provides the functionality we need with the safety net of good, reliable support…There are visible changes that come directly from user feedback.