Recognised as one of Canberra’s largest private employers with a team numbering in excess of 750, Supabarn Supermarkets is pushing forward strongly into the no holds barred world of supermarket retail.
With three stores operating throughout Canberra and another in Sydney’s Five Dock, Supabarn is headed by Theo Koundouris, a man who is determined to continue expanding his business despite the pressure of very tough competition.
Challenge: Beat them at service
With plans for two new Sydney stores – one each at Sans Souci and Sutherland – Koundouris is clearly demonstrating his commitment to business growth. Yet to achieve sustained growth in a market dominated by industry giants, Koundouris remains focused on two key factors that he believes set Supabarn well apart from its competitors. “It’s about product range and freshness, and customer service,” he says.
When it comes to customer service, though, Koundouris believes that it relies just as much on great technology as it does on a great team of people. It was therefore a point of constant frustration to him that the third-party POS hardware being used in his supermarkets simply wasn’t measuring up. “We were constantly having touch screen lose their calibration, terminals breaking down, keypads not working properly…it was an almost never-ending series of problems we had to address as quickly as possible,” he says.
“During the peak business times, such as weekends, we’re likely to have every single lane in all our stores open for business,” Koundouris continues. “If we were to have just one lane out at each store, it would be extremely frustrating for staff and customers – and if we lose customers, we lose money. But it was just as much the case that we’d have two lanes out of operation, simply because of equipment failure.
Losing the money is one thing, but when you provide poor service through poor equipment, you’re just as likely to lose a customer to the competition. And that’s not acceptable for us.”
Solution: Toshiba TEC
During the 2007 reconstruction of the Wanniassa (ACT) Supabarn, Koundouris set out to identify a POS solution that would give his new store – and all future stores – a no-fail checkout operation. “I spoke to other retailers about what they were using, saw what they had in place, and discussed the reliability of their systems,” he explains. “It didn’t take long at all to realise that the Toshiba TEC POS hardware was the only platform that had positive only comment from the people using it.”
His decision made, Koundouris implemented Toshiba TEC ST-7000 terminals, Navikey LKBST-65 touch screens and Toshiba TEC thermal receipt printers on each of Wanniassa’s 14 lanes. Months later, with the opening of the much heralded Canberra City Supabarn, it was the same solution.
Better checkout service
Providing customers with the best possible level of the service at the Canberra City and Wanniassa Supabarn checkout lanes is now both preached and practised. “The Toshiba TEC equipment has given us precisely what it takes to beat the competitors when it comes to customer satisfaction at the checkout,” Koundouris states. “With this solution, we’re processing our customers’ transactions in a fraction of the time we were able to do previously with the old equipment.
“So, where other supermarkets are dealing with system breakdowns, slow equipment and lanes out action, we havethe people and equipment necessary to giving our customers a great supermarket experience, ensuring there’s no more than a two minute wait at the checkout.
“As soon as one our store managers or supervisors sees lanes getting too long, they open another lane in a matter of minutes,” Koundouris continues. “We know our POS gear is going to work and it’s going to support us in periods of absolute demand – and that’s something the competitors only wish they could have.”
With the current four Supabarn stores dealing with over 100,000 customers per week – and it’s a figure that’s climbing steadily – Koundouris knows also that as his business grows, so too does his reliance on key partnerships. Among those partnerships is the support he gets from Toshiba TEC.
“There are times when we need technical support on-site; and the service we get from Toshiba TEC is second-to-none in my experience,” Koundouris says. “When we put a call through, we’re not forced to deal with an automated system or overseas call centre, we’re right through to the technical service team.
“With Toshiba TEC we have a partnership that actually works to support our growth. If I need advice or want to discuss plans for future expansion or refurbishments, I know it’s only a phone call for me to get in touch with people who know what they’re talking about and are committed to help. It’s that level of commitment that I see as crucial in helping me and my team succeed.
“The POS technology that’s implemented at a new supermarket is one of the most important considerations that needs to be made,” Koundouris. “The technology we have at Wanniassa and Canberra City is proving itself every day; and when the Sutherland and Sans Souci Suparbarns open for business, there’s no doubt that we’ll be moving forward with the same Toshiba TEC platform.”