COVINGTON, Ky. -- Remke's Markets here says its new personal computer-based front-end systems will reduce operating costs immediately while paving the way to system enhancements over the next few years.
The four-store independent, located near Cincinnati, completed installation of the open architecture systems last month. The systems consist of industry standard PCs and printers in each checkout lane operating off a server in each store.
The new systems unburdened Remke's from having to maintain their aging, proprietary point-of-sale equipment, store officials said. At the same time, the open architecture platform allows for inexpensive upgrades.
One system enhancement, the introduction of a frequent-shopper program, is already in the works for later this year, said Cliff Ward, systems engineer. "We've got all this information available now and we can very easily capture it by customer," he said.
Ward said Remke's is currently evaluating the best way to structure the program. "It's still in its infancy right now," he noted.
The ability to develop such new programs was a main reason for moving to an open architecture point-of-sale system. "We wanted to have more data at our fingertips," Ward said. "We're collecting a lot more information on what the stores are doing, and our corporate headquarters is automatically getting updated.
"The beauty of the system is that it's totally open -- there's nothing proprietary anywhere," he said. "You're not locked into a [hardware] supplier. If there's a new printer you want, you can put it on the system and you're home-free."
Another reason for upgrading its front-end was the growing expense of maintaining an older, proprietary system. "The cost of maintenance for one checkout lane [on the former system] was as much as it cost to buy a PC," Ward said. "The maintenance contract was extremely expensive."
While the computer-based point-of-sale system required a substantial up-front capital outlay, Remke's expects a two-year return on investment.
In addition to reducing maintenance costs, the new PCs have allowed the retailer to pare front-end labor hours. "The throughput is so much better in reducing front-end hours," Ward said. "Customers get checked through so much faster [because] it's user-friendly from the cashier standpoint."