The power of integration

Roundtable attendees

With more and more tech making its way into convenience stores, getting kit from different suppliers to run smoothly together can be a challenge. With that in mind, SLR invited Henderson Technology to share the learnings from the development of its EdgePOS platform and suite of fully integrated apps with a panel of key convenience industry figures.

by Findlay Stein

  • Antony Begley, Publishing Director, SLR
  • Matthew Howie, Wholesale Account Manager, Morrisons Daily
  • Ester Uche, Business Development Executive (Scotland & Northern England), Henderson Technology
  • Shamly Sud, Managing Director, GHSL
  • Jordan Lavery, Customer Relations Executive, Henderson Technology
  • Kevin Blyth, Corporate Development Manager, Highland Fuels
  • Stephen Thomson, CEO, Eddy’s Food Station
  • Stephen Jackson, Company Risk & Sustainability Manager, One O One Convenience Stores
  • Kristine Moore, Retail Technology Channel Manager, Henderson Technology

Technology. It’s great when it works.

Conversely, it can be a nightmare when it doesn’t. We have some personal experience of this. Back when SLR ran the Woodlands Local store all three tills chose one Friday night to crash simultaneously. Cue mayhem in a store packed with what felt like half of Falkirk all trying to buy booze on the busiest night of the week.

The first solution, switching the tills off then switching them back on, drew a blank. A panicked phone call to the EPoS provider was met with an automated reply assuring us someone would call back “within the hour”. So, with nothing else for it, it was time to break out the pens and paper and dust off some long-neglected mental arithmetic skills.

And that’s just one part of an increasingly complicated in-store tech equation. You can and possibly already do have any number of different solutions that all work fine in isolation but then refuse to play nice with each other.

Again, at Woodlands, we had no end of bother trying to integrate third-party solutions for food waste and home delivery. EPoS providers, it turns out, aren’t keen to grant third party access to their systems, mostly even refusing to allow simple APIs to make the systems work quicker and more efficiently. This experience taught us a valuable lesson: all these different platforms need to seamlessly integrate with the EPoS software so that real-time data about everything from pricing and stock levels can move back and forth without any friction. In other words, you don’t have to update a dozen separate computers every time you change the price of a packet of biscuits.

EDGEPoS screen
EDGEPos: ‘By retailers, for retailers’

Back in 2010, Northern Ireland’s Henderson Retail was experiencing similar frustrations finding an EPoS provider that could offer a solution that did everything it needed an EPoS system to do. However, instead of breaking out the biros, it turned to sister company Henderson Technology to create its own system, EDGEPoS. This puts Henderson in a fairly unique position, as an EPoS provider that uses its own system in its own stores. Hence the EDGEPos motto, ‘By retailers, for retailers’.

Not only does Henderson use EDGEPoS itself, but it is continually developing and improving the platform based on the company’s experience of front-line convenience retailing.

That experience extends to approximately 560 stores in Northern Ireland, of which around 100 are company-owned. The business also has a large footprint in Australia and is making inroads in the UK, having just completed its 155th installation on the mainland.

So, with all that in mind, we lured Henderson Technology across the water with the promise of a fantastic lunch at Glasgow’s upmarket Hotel du Vin to give our panel of major players in Scotland’s convenience industry a quick overview of the cutting-edge tech integrations it can offer and its experience of tweaking and developing them over time.

Kristine Moore
Sharing the knowledge: Kristine Moore, Henderson Technology’s Retail Technology Channel Manager

Do it yourself

Henderson was ahead of the curve when it planned to launch hybrid self-checkout tills in its company-owned stores back in 2018. This was before the pandemic, when their usage really took off as customers sought to reduce their human interaction, and the business found the existing options “way too expensive” – in the words of Kristine Moore, Henderson Technology’s Retail Technology Channel Manager – and not a good fit for forecourts or convenience stores. So, in typical fashion, it then developed its own option which proved a great success when its wholesale customers tried it.

The company has been constantly developing and features and options available ever since, and now every Henderson Retail store that opens has standalone self-checkouts by default, for both card and cash.

Check this out: no need to handle cash

Every till in Henderson’s retail estate also uses the third-party Glory automated cash handling platform, a cassette-based system which means staff never come into contact with notes and coins.

Moore accepts that the units are “not cheap” but they do offer “lots and lots of benefits”. If your store shuts at 11, then your staff are out at 11, she said. Aside from the obvious benefits around efficiency, security and shrinkage – with stores seeing cash loss “dropping to zero” – Henderson Retail finds the system works as a useful tool in recruiting and retaining staff.

And, in what’s perceived as an increasingly cashless society, adding Glory increases self-checkout use from 18% to 60%, Moore said. Henderson offers the solution on a seven-year lease deal, something that Glory itself doesn’t do.

Competitive edge

Henderson also offers Electronic Shelf Edge Labels (ESELs) to retailers on a seven-year lease, with no upfront costs, after its own positive experience with them.

“No one but no one in Henderson Group ever foresaw how successful we would be with Electronic Shelf Edge Labels,” said Moore, adding that the company is now installing them in two stores per week in Northern Ireland and two per month in mainland UK.

Electronic shelf edge label
ESELs take the pain out of promotions

Despite all showing a great interest in them, none of the retailers at the roundtable have installed ESELs yet – with the cost a major factor in this decision. Moore said retailers would see a return on investment after three years and benefit from an instant margin growth of typically 0.6% for a two- or three-lane store.

The other benefits are obvious: flexible pricing, no wrong prices and no time-sapping and soul-destroying manual promotional changeovers. Every retailer knows the pain of swapping out endless numbers of tickets every three or four weeks.

Moore cited a 16-lane Eurospar store in Portadown that used to take an entire week to change promotions. That’s now down to under three minutes with ESELs. A typical two- to three-lane store would save 12 to 16 employee hours per week, she said, adding that Henderson had yet to receive a single piece of negative feedback about its ESELs.

Food for thought

A kiosk ordering solution for food to go is another example of how Henderson’s constantly evolving ecosystem can help save time.

This is an extension of the EDGEPoS click & collect and home delivery apps, which circumvent the problems associated with integrating different platforms. As mentioned previously, we found it impossible to run a practical home delivery operation at Woodlands because of EPoS issues. One retailer on the panel said that they had problems updating prices on one of the leading apps.

EDGEPoS has a Deliverect integration linking it to all of the major food delivery platforms while a second integration with Brandbank removes the need to manually upload the product pictures that bring the customer-facing website or app to life and drive sales. Moore said the system automatically uploads prices to Deliverect once a day and retailers can also manually change prices. Since a number of home delivery platforms won’t let retailers make prices on the app more expensive than in-store, those who want to add a mark-up to cover app commission charges can export their prices, add 30% or whatever, then reimport them.

Henderson decided to expand this function to self-serve kiosks and “let customers come in and serve themselves,” with an October 2022 launch in its flagship Spar Mallusk store. This huge 5,400sq ft store acts as a test bed for all of Henderson’s latest developments. Now 12% of its food-to-go sales come through self-ordering.

Promotions also feed through the kiosk screens, which can display different meal deals depending on the time of day, with breakfast-specific offers automatically switching to a lunchtime deal and so on.

Henderson’s drive-thru concept takes the self-ordering kiosks outside and is again driven through digital media screens fully integrated with the EDGEPoS system.

Spar store
Henderson’s flagship Spar Mallusk store

Screen time

Henderson will also be launching a range of digital screens in “all kinds of weird and wonderful sizes” at the upcoming National Convenience Show at the end of the month. These will be offered as standalone products although the screens can, of course, be fully integrated with EDGEPoS, meaning retailers can change a price at the head or back office, which will then simultaneously deploy to tills, self-checkouts, ESELs and menu boards.

Highland Fuels’ Kevin Blyth is a big fan of digital signage. “It really works,” he said, citing his experience with the 7/11 chain in the US, which saw a 45% increase in sales of products promoted on screens.

Shamly Sud, who has gone in hard with screens in her award-winning Racetrack stores, agreed. “It makes retail fun,” she said. Shamly said she picks up a lot of ideas from America and is now trying to up the experiential aspect in her stores by going more Wonka. Given the number of trophies on her mantelpiece, it’s safe to say that she’ll make a better job of this than the organisers of the recent Glasgow-based Willy Wonka Experience that took the world by storm for all the wrong reasons.

Nobody’s fuel

It’s already been mentioned that Henderson operates around 100 company-owned stores. Many of these also sell fuel and subsequently EDGEPoS boasts a number of features geared towards forecourt operators.

These have been bolstered by the launch of a Fuel Pay app, which Moore admits copies the concept of BPme, and is a cost-effective simple way of offering pay at the pump that negates the need for expensive terminals. It’s a white label app, meaning multisite forecourt operators can badge it up with their own branding, that can also incorporate a loyalty scheme. Customers simply choose their forecourt and pump then fill up and drive off.

There is also support Blue Badge drivers with limited mobility, who can select their fuel and amount then call for an assistant to come and fill up for them via the app. It goes without saying that it seamlessly integrates with EDGEPoS.

Future of convenience?

If you’ve read this far then you could be forgiven for thinking that we’re giving the integration drum a right good banging but it’s hard to envision a world in five years’ time where it won’t be playing a vital role in convenience.

With the minimum wage only going in one direction and the likes of Aldi and Lidl offering increasingly tempting salaries, it can be argued that the future may lie in running stores more efficiently and with a reduced headcount.

An integrated store would see tech doing all the boring and difficult jobs, with a smaller number of staff freed up to look after customers and do things that they’re good at and actually enjoy. And not – as one Henderson employee had to do in the days before ESELs – spend 40 hours every week checking paper labels.

That thought, much like the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding served up by Hotel du Vin, is something worth chewing over.

EDGEPoS features


  • Payment Options
  • Safe drops
  • Advanced Age Check
  • Audit Trails
  • Authorisation
  • Authorising fuel
  • Contactless payments
  • Drive off prevention
  • Fuel fraud prevention
  • Live system
  • PayPoint Integration
  • Transactions
  • Wholesaler Link Integration

Operational efficiency

  • Automatic end of day reports
  • Report Scheduler
  • Fuel Cards Integration
  • Multi-Currency payments
  • Receipt resolution
  • Self-populating PLUs
  • Supplier database

Business development

  • Customer accounts
  • Customer loyalty scheme
  • Deals & Promotions
  • Instore Coupons
  • Multi buys
  • Upselling Messages
  |    |  

Share on  

Read next

This publication contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under the age of 18 years old.

This website contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under 18 years of age.

This website contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under 18 years of age.

This publication contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under the age of 18 years old.