CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- To add flexibility at the front ends of its supermarkets and hypermarkets, Pick 'n Pay here is in the midst of a chainwide upgrade of its point-of-sale system to a solution that runs on open architecture.
The South African retailer, which sells food, clothing and general merchandise, reportedly is migrating to open technology that is expected to improve customer service and interface with new applications at the front end.
The new system will "integrate closely with our own applications and is coupled with strong support," Ronnie Herzfeld, information technology director for Pick 'n Pay, said in a statement. The retailer confirmed the rollout was taking place, but declined to comment further.
Pick 'n Pay began the rollout of the new POS units in five stores, and reportedly plans to have the new system in all 124 stores by October, according to a source familiar with the chain. The units reportedly will be installed at 3,620 checkout lanes chainwide. Supermarkets will receive an average of 23 units, and each hypermarket, an average of 80 units, the source added.
Pick 'n Pay reportedly is replacing its existing front end due to various limitations caused by a proprietary network and aging hardware. "The existing system was becoming unstable," the source explained. "The equipment was getting old and breakdowns were beginning to have an impact on customer service.
"The old system's proprietary nature made it difficult to incorporate new functionality and interface with new technology," the source added. "Pick 'n Pay continuously had to create their own interface hardware and software drivers to work around the incompatibilities."
The new system, from NCR, Dayton, Ohio, will run on an open platform. The platform is similar to a Unix platform, according to the source, who added that each store would have an ethernet local area network and be connected to the retailer's private wide area network.
The platform makes it easier to integrate multiple network connections among machines, increasing the POS system's reliability. For example, if one network link goes down, QNX automatically reroutes all network traffic across to the other link, ensuring the integrity of all data, according to a published statement.
"Pick 'n Pay has struggled over the years to integrate new [applications] with their proprietary system," the source said. "The new system will allow the retailer to easily integrate new systems as they may come along, such as lottery systems, couponing systems, customer loyalty applications, self-checkout technology and security systems." The source declined to comment on whether the retailer would pursue these projects in the future.
The new POS system will feature a keyboard with an intuitive graphic user interface, which should help expedite staff training.
Pick 'n Pay reportedly expects the new system to bring productivity gains. The retailer reportedly will test NCR's self-checkout technology in one store by the end of the year, according to the source, who noted the self-checkout technology has similar file structures as the POS system.