For Darren Stiles of Manna Gum Building and Garden Supplies, using day-to-day sales data collected at the POS helps him create effective marketing campaigns to keep him ahead of the competition.



Located in Upper Ferntree Gully in Melbourne’s east, Manna Gum Building and Garden Supplies stocks a wide variety of products for both trade and public customers. Sand, soil, mulch, pebbles, rocks, and a vast array of accessories are available. Manna Gum also supplies high quality Redgum firewood to Melbourne. Darren Stiles leads the team and in 2021 replaced his aging CRM system and cash register with a modern Univex Point of Sale. One of his primary reasons for change was to capture more information about customers and spending habits to make better marketing decisions.


The Challenge

In 2023 the price of firewood was about to increase. Numerous other economic forces were at play including inflation across all goods and services, increasing interest rates, and higher demand for wages. The firewood market is also highly competitive and whilst Manna Gum’s product is of premium quality, burns slowly and produces better heat, many consumers shop for firewood by price alone.

Darren has many years of experience selling firewood. He understood the importance and urgency to inform customers of upcoming price rises. Local and digital advertising and email newsletters have quite a low response rate. He needed something that couldn’t be ignored, and formed the idea of communicating via SMS text messages to his customers. Like most small business operators, Darren was short on time and had no dedicated marketing team to perform the work. He reached out to Paul Filmer, Managing Director of Univex Retail Software, his Point of Sale provider, to construct a solution for him.

The Solution

Paul helped Darren extract a list of customers from Manna Gum’s Univex POS system that had purchased firewood in the past. The data was drawn from recent sales in Univex, plus his old CRM data which Univex had imported when the POS was installed. Built-in reports in Univex system made it easy to find this segment of customers and export to an Excel file. Customer names were included to personalise the SMS and help increase the response rate. This made the SMS stand out amongst typical marketing campaigns that are very impersonable.

Drawing on past experience running campaigns for other customers, Paul recommended an SMS provider that would satisfy Darren’s desire for a longer SMS message that also included Emojis. The content of the SMS contained useful information for his customers. In it he described the current state of firewood availability and alerted customers to upcoming price increases.

Paul assisted Darren to upload the customer list to the SMS provider, set up the campaign, and send test messages to mobile phones to review.

When it was time to send Paul came on site to Manna Gum’s store to work in person with Darren. Whilst the job could have been done remotely, and virtually every other organisation would have done it that way, Paul recognises the importance of having face-to-face contact with his customers and connecting with them on a personal level. This approach to customer service has set Univex apart from other POS providers for over 25 years.

Whilst onsite the button was pushed to send the SMS to almost 2000 customers in less than 3 minutes.


To say the campaign was a success is an understatement. As soon as the SMS was sent out the phone started ringing, and kept ringing for the next few hours! This campaign had a positive ROI within 5 minutes. Manna Gum sold 5 times the amount of firewood in March than they did the year before. Manna Gum staff were delighted, not just for the increase in business but to get ahead of the competition before Winter arrived.

The benefits to Manna Gum will extend far beyond this campaign. Some lapsed customers have reconnected with the business and will resume buying firewood from there. New and valuable data has been collected including mobile phone numbers no longer connected, or customers not interested in marketing, and this will be used next time to target relevant customers and improve ROI even further.

Univex has also learnt some new marketing techniques from this campaign and will take these to other customers. By trying new and unusual things the entire Univex community benefits. It’s this level of personalised service and innovation that makes Univex so much different and more valuable to retailers than typical mass-market software.