WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Lowes Food Stores here has nearly completed its chainwide rollout of upgraded electronic payment systems that already have cut credit and debit card approval time from 30 seconds to five or six seconds.
More than half of Lowes' 50 stores are on-line with a wide area network using frame relay communications protocol, said Cal Sihilling, vice president of information systems at Alex Lee, Hickory, N.C., which owns Lowes. All stores will be on the network and using new software by the end of this month.
Financial switching software for credit and debit card approvals and the check authorization software was developed by Abco Foods, Phoenix.
The network and frame relay communications greatly speed transaction time, Sihilling said, noting that dialup phone approvals for credit and debit previously took as long as 30 seconds.
Check approvals will also be processed via the network linked to a centralized data base, which will be speedier and more reliable than the in-store bad check file that stores had been using.
"We're able to have much cleaner check cashing," Sihilling said. "If somebody cashes a check at one store and they go to another [to cash a check], we know about it right away. And if they do it a third time, we can decline" if policy were to limit customers to cashing two checks per day, for example.
Stores are being equipped with check readers with magnetic ink character recognition for "no ID tendering," which enables shoppers who've established a record on the data base to write checks without having to provide identification.