A new PC-based point-of-sale (POS) system is setting the standard for the future, according to Foodstuffs Wellington group IS manager Egon Guttke.
The system uses mainstream technology and a standard network for cabling. It comprises PC-based terminal hardware (Siemens Nixdorf Beetle XL terminal) and NCR 7870 scanner/scales, Axiohm 7156 thermal receipt printers and Advanced Data Systems-supplied Eftpos -terminals.
Guttke says the system is open technology, whereas point-of-sale technology is traditionally proprietary.
“Someone gives you a POS system and then you have to buy a scanner/scales and a particular Eftpos terminal and printer and, really, you’re a captive customer.”
The new system uses mainstream technology with industry-standard components. Guttke says the company can choose peripherals from virtually any vendor.
Guttke says that not only affects the price but the cost of ownership. For example, it is easier and cheaper to buy, and therefore replace, PC screens than it is the old pole-display [basic Eftpos] units.
He says there are also cost savings through being able to replace a core part, rather than the whole system, so components that are still in good shape can be kept. He says that in the past the “whole lot” would be thrown out.
He says Foodstuffs did a very thorough evaluation process in choosing a system. The UK’s Tescos uses the same combination of hardware and software.
Guttke says the food industry is a high-volume, low-margin business.
“You need reliability and resilience at point of sale and we are really the first in New Zealand to make the step from proprietary technology to more open systems.”
He says customers benefit from a big screen which allows them to see their purchases and from the quiet thermal printers, which are also faster (10 lines a second).
He is not enthusiastic about the possibility in future of NCs being used as a point of sale device. He says if the server breaks down, you would have to close the store.
“There’s no way today you can operate a store without a POS system because it’s all bar-coded.” He says the Foodstuffs Wellington system checkouts can operate even without the server.
“It has all the software sitting in every lane. You have dual servers sitting behind this network in the store. If one goes down the other takes over, but even if both go, you can continue trading for quite some time — for a couple of days maybe. That’s very important and that’s the problem with networked terminals.”
The new system was trialled at Miramar New World in late March and is being installed through the Foodstuffs Wellington area in the lower North Island. Seven New World and Write Price stores are now on stream, with another five due to be upgraded by the end of the year.