Upgrading POS Hardware


According to the LakeWest Group's 8th annual benchmarking survey, the number one priority for retailers is processing customers through the checkout faster. In line with this, retailers continue to focus on upgrading and enhancing their POS hardware to offer more functionality for both sales associates and customers.

POS systems have come a long way from the days of being just a cash register. Today's POS workstation includes not only a cash drawer and keyboard, but also a software-loaded server, monitor, customer display and printer. And that doesn't include any number of peripherals that can be attached.

Even POS systems that have gone well beyond the just-a-cash-register phase but are five or more years old, are likely to be outdated and must be enhanced or upgraded to ensure retailers meet their goal of processing customers through checkout faster, and more efficiently. Dress Barn replaced its older-generation POS platform with a Windows-based system from Fujitsu after identifying a need to improve customers' experience at the point-of-sale.

"This is the single largest IT project and expenditure in the history of our company," says David R. Jaffe, president and CEO of Dress Barn. Such large budget allocations highlight the importance of having best-in-class POS technology. Dress Barn rolled out the Fujitsu TeamPoS 2000M terminals to more than 2,000 shopping lanes.

Another retailer determining a POS upgrade was in order is specialty retailer, Bike World. Owner Whit Snell was ahead of the technology curve when he bought his first digitally numbered cash register in 1972, but since then, the company has fallen behind the POS curve. "We needed a system that would better integrate with the Web site and give us a real-time view of inventory across our stores," says Dan Grant, IT administrator. Bike World chose to upgrade to a Dell POS system including PowerEdge 380 servers.

According to Chris Snell (son of owner Whit Snell), the Dell POS system was implemented with few hiccups. "We had to ramp up in a very short time, so the last thing we needed was out-of-the-box failures," he says. "We ordered hundreds of pieces of equipment, and the only difficulty we had involved one bad keyboard."

More than the system's functionality and smooth implementation it's the Dell touch screen monitors that thrill Whit Snell. "Once you've hada touch screen register, you can't go back," he says. "Sales move so much faster than they did on the old system. I attribute that to the ease of using a touch screen and the flow of the whole system."

Canadian retailer, Laura Canada, discovered its POS hardware was out-of-date when it began a rollout of a new POS application. The old hardware could not accommodate the new application and threatened the level of customer service the company aims to provide. "We require that our replacement hardware be held to the same standards to which our customers hold us," says Murray Shostak, director of IT at Laura Canada, which chose the Retail Blade 3 system from

DigiPoS to get it back on track. "The new DigiPoS configuration provides investment protection, and has eliminated a high failure rate in our older whitebox PC solutions," Shostak adds.

The new POS system integrates all serial peripherals including traffic counters, cash drawers, integrated keyboards and scanners, pin pads and receipt printers. As part of its goal to serve customers quickly and efficiently, Laura Canada supports the DigiPoS system in-house. "By being able to have better control and flexibility in maintaining our POS systems, we can remain focused on serving our customers at the high level expected from us," says Joe Cusano, Laura Canada's manager of POS systems.

Unlike Laura Canada, management at Pat Catan's Craft Centers wanted to be as un-involved in maintaining its new POS system as possible. Though a POS upgrade was essential, management at the specialty arts and crafts retailer was determined to get it done quickly and easily, without interrupting the stores' daily business. Pat Catan's Craft Centers turned to Ultimate Technology for both the POS hardware and an almost-unnoticeable deployment process. The total solution provided by Ultimate Technology included 2800 series integrated POS systems, technical support, product staging and integration, system installation and peripheral configuration.

More than 180 POS systems were installed on Saturday and Sunday evenings after the stores had closed. In addition, the systems had been pre-configured and all software loaded before shipping to the stores. According to Jim Petkunas, the company's IT director, the retailer immediately noticed that system downtime was "reduced dramatically" after the installation.

Giving customers the option to stay in line or check themselves out is one method of moving customers through the checkout process more quickly. British retailer Tesco is one of Europe's largest implementers of self-checkout. Recently, the company expanded its self-checkout capability with NCR FastLane Mini workstations in more than 50 percent of the front-end lanes at its Bishopgate Metro store in London. Eleven new self-checkout positions were added to the store's re-designed front-end. "We have already deployed smaller installments of the NCR FastLane Mini self-checkout in six other stores in London and the customer acceptance has exceeded our expectations," says Attila Winstanley, Tesco's productivity director. "In these locations, our customers are often business people who appreciate being able to (quickly) select a few items on the way home from work," she adds. The NCR FastLane Mini features a touch screen user interface, multimedia graphics, voice and visual prompts and a signature capture pad for credit card transactions.

Portuguese retailer Modelo Continente SGPS is another retailer using self-checkout to move customers through the checkout process more efficiently. Modelo deployed Fujitsu U-Scan terminals at all of its hypermarket locations after establishing a four-pronged criterion of functionality, usability, cost and fast implementation. "Self-checkout helps us further differentiate our stores and offer our customers new shopping services and options," says Paulo Magalhães, Modelo's CIO. To speed up the implementation process Modelo used a virtual POS (VPOS) messaging framework. The VPOS software enhances communications between the front-end cash registers and the self-checkout systems. The first U-Scan was live instore 57 days after the initial decision to deploy was made.

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