Picking Up Speed

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Picking Up Speed

By Tammy Mastroberte

The 26 Russell's Convenience Stores owned or licensed by HJB Convenience Corp. were operating on a DOS-based point-of-sale (POS) system that was 13 years old. Ray Huff, president of HJB said it took the company two and a half years to find a replacement that fit the needs of Russell's, including integration with its proprietary Tenderfoot back office system.

But in April of last year, the company began testing Wincor Nixdorf's Beetle iPOS hardware and NAMOS software in its largest store, which was attached to the corporate office at the time, and within three weeks, made the decision to move forward with the system.

"The first and most notable result was the transaction time at the register, which improved by 40 percent," Huff said, adding training only took about 10 minutes per cashier.

"They felt comfortable with it, and we were shocked at how quickly people picked up the system. With a touchscreen, we were worried employees would touch the wrong place, but they got it right away," he explained.

One of the goals was the ability to integrate the company's proprietary back office accounting system with the POS, but Russell's got an unexpected bonus of real-time data.

"We found the new system gave us so much more information that we could extend our back office," Huff noted. "We used to do batch-based, once-a-day uploading of data to the corporate office, but with Wincor, the data was so clean and in a good format, so we could do it in real time."

This led to the next major benefit of the new system — store managers "learned how to get out of the store early," Huff said. Located in high-rise office buildings, the stores are not open 24 hours. The hours are usually 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and as part of the initial test of Wincor's system, store managers were able to close out the day anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes faster than before.

"On average, it saved 30 minutes a day, and at $10 per hour for salary, that adds up," Huff said.

The new systems started rolling out last September, and reached all corporate-run stores by January 2008, following the process of implementing a new store every two weeks.

"After the first two stores, we found the system simple enough to install, so we took the responsibility of installing the rest on our own," Huff recalled.

Of all the results, the biggest benefit remains the quicker transaction times, especially operating in an office building during lunch hours, he said.

"Imagine an office building with 8,000 people in it, and they all come down for lunch at the same time. We used to see things left on the counter because the lines were too long, and we don't have that anymore."

The company plans to extend the system to licensees in the near future.