NEW ORLEANS -- Switching to an open point-of-sale system based on Windows CE has saved time and money, and improved cashier training for the Fred W. Albrecht Grocery Co., Akron, Ohio, said Clark Richards, vice president, information services.
"The business impact of doing this was huge," Richards said, speaking at a seminar sponsored by Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash., prior to the MarkeTechnics show held here by the Food Marketing Institute, Washington, last month.
"We had a lot of positive response from our cashiers, our customers, our systems and support staff, and we also maintained costs," he added.
Building on the Microsoft Windows CE operating system, Albrecht also put in open terminals from NCR Corp., Dayton, Ohio, and Q Connect terminal services from QVS, Raleigh, N.C. This system allowed the retailer to increase efficiencies while continuing to run the Supermarket Application with Electronic Marketing solutions from IBM, Armonk, N.Y.
"Through that selection, we were able to separate the hardware from the software, we had a graphical interface for our customers and cashiers, and we were able to have open system architectures within our stores. We also maintained and leveraged our current investment in our Supermarket Application," Richards said.
The retailer began the project in mid-October and completed it on Dec. 7. "We took one week off at Thanksgiving and then we were able to successfully roll it out to 18 stores. There was minimal impact on the customers and on the associates," he said.
For the future, "we are looking for other applications that can enhance the point-of-sale system. We are looking for other solutions that will enhance our customer shopping experience and give us a greater advantage over our competition," Richards said.
One of the biggest benefits was in reducing the time required for cashier training. "They were able to learn the new solution in about 45 minutes compared to two to three hours for our old system. That small learning curve improved our overall operations," he said.
Albrecht also was able to shift the focus of cashier training. "Instead of spending so much time on how to operate the terminal, we dedicated more time to customer service, and processes that could be friendlier to the customer and that improve the overall operation," he said.
With the new system, the retailer eliminated the various flip charts that existed at the registers such as those for price lookups and for operational procedures. "We replaced all that with on-line help, so with a touch of a button, our cashiers could pull up any type of information and apply it to their situation," Richards said.