Cheap As Chips – Rapid growth and innovation underpinned by successful partnerships.
As a kid of the 1980s, I reminisce about venturing on my BMX to a Cheap as Chips shop with mum and dad. It was like a treasure chest of gadgets, toys, and things the adults needed for the house. I remember the store, spending my $2 pocket money and always walking away with something that put a smile on my face. One of those things was a live concert recording of Nirvana, my first CD purchase, and I wish I could find it today. Technology like CDs have come a long way since then, and so have the stores, company, and the brand of Cheap as Chips. They are growing rapidly across Australia with physical stores, online and use innovative systems and technology to grow and remain successful in the highly competitive retail sector. Success for any business is often underpinned by strong partnerships with suppliers, vendors and in some cases, this becomes an extension of the team itself.
We sat down with Daniel Whittle, Head of Technology at Cheap as Chips, to learn a little more about his approach, the business, growth aspirations and how we came to work together.
There is a lot of change in the business, and it just emphasizes that as we’re going through all of that, nothing’s too hard for the guys on your end. Whether it is a $50 job or something larger, it does not make a difference. You get the same level of support, and the team will do whatever is needed to get the outcome. There is a real relationship there. – Daniel Whittle, Head of Technology at Cheap as Chips.
About Cheap as Chips
Cheap as Chips is 100% Australian-owned and operated from the head office in South Australia. The brand started in 1985 with a humble store in Morphett Vale South Australia, and since then, it has grown into a company with over fifty stores in Australia and a team of over 1,000 Chippies at peak trade periods. A successful South Australian business, proudly creating jobs all over Australia, offering excellent value for money, great quality products, with a great customer experience.
In a modern retail business with an omnichannel presence, the team has a considerable number of IT users and thousands of devices. It is critical that the stores and store support operations have 100% availability and an instant level of response by support when an issue arises. Responsiveness and trust are two factors important for these two entities. Each store connects to various systems that ensure the business has the information to run smoothly. If there is an issue, they need things to be fixed in a hurry.
The company is not only on a big growth phase, but they are also undergoing a large digital transformational journey with the recent launch of a modern ERP platform, country wide digital presence and a move to online delivery and click-and-collect services, alongside a fully automated points based loyalty program using best in breed technology. It is important for any business to have a responsive IT partner they can rely on, and even more so in the fast-paced consumer goods market where downtime has a significant impact on the bottom line, customer satisfaction and other key metrics.
How did Blackbird IT come to work with Cheap as Chips?
The relationship with Blackbird IT initially began through technology procurement and on an ad hoc basis. It was for purchasing a laptop, a hard drive, and other bits of tech in the beginning.
The best tech partnerships are when both are growing and can contribute to one another’s success. The relationship with Blackbird IT has been a natural journey. – Daniel Whittle, Head of Technology at Cheap as Chips.
Why the partnership works.
Daniel discussed that as he came into the business, his first task was to understand the landscape, business objectives, assess where the business is at with technology, the environment and who is who in regard to the technology partners they rely on. The company has grown significantly in recent years and with a number of concurrent projects and transformational changes, having a partner they can trust and rely on is important.
Daniel continued with his thinking and approach about partnering with the right businesses to assist them on their journey.
You’re only as strong as your weakest team member, and commonly external partners are a part of that team. When assessing my team, it was clear Blackbird IT were doing more than just taking a pay cheque. – Daniel Whittle, Head of Technology at Cheap as Chips.
The pace of retail is rapid and extremely competitive. COVID-19 has impacted the way people buy, and there have been disruptions in the supply chain and the way that head office staff have had to work.
Being a retail business, every minute is time, time is money, so you need people in your team that you can trust. At any point if I pick up the phone to anyone at Blackbird, I get help. Regardless of if it’s my first interaction with them or not. – Daniel Whittle, Head of Technology at Cheap as Chips.
Having support when you need it is important, as retail stores operate outside of normal business hours with busy weekend trading and late-night shopping. If a store cannot trade on a Saturday peak trading period between 10 am and 2 pm it has an impact on the core metrics of the business as well as the IT team and store employees. Daniel recalls his experience in a similar scenario and his thought process of when this happens.
You can have all the SLAs and paperwork to fight an army, but when it comes down to it, who will actually help? When you can pick up the phone and call Blackbird IT, I know for a fact that I get a solid engineer without any major complexities. – Daniel Whittle, Head of Technology at Cheap as Chips.
Consistent service is also key to success in retail. Customer loyalty is something all retailers try to attain, and this aligns to Blackbird IT’s partnership approach with every managed account. With a long-term relationship also comes knowledge transfer and learning. At times, our team visit the Blackbird IT office for training and the guys have been able to grow from that experience as well. Concluded Daniel.
As Cheap as Chips continues to grow, the support services provided also need to scale. Here at Blackbird IT, we also focus on using tools like Microsoft Power Automate to work smarter and more efficiently. Technology is one crucial factor in improving efficiencies and automating repetitive tasks.
- Big transformational business changes
- Little time to react to industry movements.
- Instant response and support required when issues arise
- “Thrifty and Lean”
- High business demands
- Supporting many users and devices across Australia
- A genuine partnership with trust and proven deliverables
- Highly responsive to our IT infrastructure needs
- Training and knowledge transfer to assist the Cheap as Chips internal team
- Successful migration from on-premise to cloud instance for core systems offering new functionality and benefits
- Microsoft 365 Migration and Microsoft Teams solution has transformed business with increased user uptake and Teams features provide inbuilt governance and project success metrics
What do we do with Cheap as Chips?
Blackbird IT provide IT support, procurement, strategy, and advice, but the relationship works because both parties have a strong partnership and alignment in core values.
The services provided include:
- IT strategy and advice
- Private Cloud / Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
- Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity Planning
- Microsoft 365 migration and ongoing support
- Microsoft Azure and Exchange Online
- New store IT fit-out and management
- Dedicated Account Manager
- Managed Service / Outsourced information technology
- Remote support
Written by Peter Dawidowski – Marketing Manager – Blackbird IT.