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Retail Tech Growth Spurt Reflected at Retail Show

January 13th, 2005

As the retail tech industry prepared for it largest trade show, the cutting-edge nature of expected news announcements—with an emphasis on wireless, touch-screen, kiosk and PDA applications—suggested an industry that is exploring everything but committing to little. A good example of an expected alliance is one involving IBM and some 40 companies—including Cuesol, Retek, Symbol Technologies and Triversity—that will pledge support for IBM's Store Integration Framework. That program specializes in helping retailers to target and cater to local sales and promotional preferences. Read more...


Bar-Code Scam at Wal-Mart: A Matter of Priorities

January 5th, 2005

The fact that shoplifters nabbed $1.5 million across 19 states is not a technology, people or training problem. Rather, it shows that management needs to re-evaluate its obsession with keeping the line moving. The most well-planned and meticulously detailed crimes are often foiled by the commonplace. The thieves might map out their route precisely, coordinating it based on when various employees come and go. But security guard No. 9 gets a flat tire that morning, shows up 35 minutes late and ruins everything. Read more...


Force-feeding Commercials To Trapped Customers

December 29th, 2004

Imagine the following scenario playing out at your favorite retail store. You have been running all around town trying to prepare for an important formal banquet on January 11, 2005. After having worked with a sales associate at a major department store for an hour to select seven possible outfits, you lug them into a dressing room to see what might work. Read more...


Retail Tech Predictions For 2005

December 22nd, 2004

When I thought about retail IT operations in 2005, I envisioned an eccentric, wealthy hermit who lives in a comfortable mansion in the middle of the woods.

The hermit certainly knows about the big city and all of the glorious things he could buy there, but he is content. He has what he needs and a sufficient number of things that he wants. His home is sound and he doesn't have a heck of a lot of motivation to go out and make it fancy and state-of-the-art. Maybe someday, he thinks. Read more...


Kids Buy The Darndest Things

December 6th, 2004

Running the technology operations for a billion-dollar retail clothing chain is difficult enough during the holidays, let alone if most of your customers are too young to get their own credit cards, or even drive. Just ask Ron Ehlers, vice president for Information Systems at Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., which runs 743 PacSun stores in 50 states and Puerto Rico. Read more...

The Unexpected Security Threats

December 1st, 2004
IT managers are used to safeguarding against the standard security threats with firewalls and encryption and other protection tactics. But protecting against attacks from printers, faxes and copy machines? The unexpected threats are the most dangerous. Published in BusinessWeek. To read the full story, please click here.


A Year-End Look at Retail

November 25th, 2004

In many ways, 2004 will be seen as a technological turning point for retail: the year that many technologies that have been hyped for years started to become real. Traditionally, retail has always been a mixed barcode for being technologically advanced. Read more...

Convenience Chain CIO: Payment Systems Bleeding Stores Dry

November 19th, 2004

Wawa CIO Neil McCarthy's voice reveals his anger as he recounts a recent meeting he had with bank executives to complain about high credit card fees that are out of proportion with services. Wawa's 550 stores sell a huge amount of gasoline: about 110,000 gallons per week per store, which places it among the highest volume in the country. Typical volume for U.S. gas stations is about 40,000 gallons, McCarthy said. Read more...

Device Lets POS Units Handle Wireless Transactions

October 18th, 2004

With wireless uncertainty as its staunch ally, Vivotech will introduce a system to help retailers quickly convert existing POS units to accept wireless entries. Read more...

Will Wireless Rewrite the RFID Landscape?

October 13th, 2004

With dramatically greater range and faster deployment—and with item-level tagging possible by next year—one former Boeing engineer thinks wireless may solve retail RFID headaches. Claiming the wireless ability to read tags that are literally hundreds of meters away, a retired Boeing engineer thinks he can deliver item-level tagging years faster than can conventional RFID and with technology that is much more readily available. Read more...

A Tailor-Made Technology Environment

October 6th, 2004

In the clothing business, selling a suit that doesn't fit a customer makes little sense, even if it's highly profitable. The same can be said for retail e-commerce strategies: There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all Web site. Casual Male, with more than 533 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, dominates the "big and tall men" apparel niche, which it identifies as a $6 billion market. Read more...

JDA, PeopleSoft Team Up to Help Retailers

September 23rd, 2004

In an attempt to fend off retail moves from SAP AG, PeopleSoft Inc. and JDA Software Group Inc. announced an alliance that they said better serves retailers. Under the deal, the companies will integrate PeopleSoft's Enterprise Financial Management with JDA's Portfolio Merchandise Management. The move followed PeopleSoft's alliance with IBM. Read more...

Pity the Retail IT Pioneer

September 3rd, 2004

Historically, the two most difficult technology decisions involve migration. Put simply: when to get into a technology/platform and when to get out. A senior Best Buy executive gave a much needed reminder that while exit/entrance issues get all the headlines, it's the detail-ridden implementation/execution issues that usually decide success or failure. Read more...

Will Cell Phones, PDAs Become Retailers’ Promo Tools?

August 25th, 2004

With PDAs and cell phones getting more advanced, one retail transaction vendor wants to turn those consumer gadgets into two-way, advertisement-friendly checkout devices.

A major roadblock for razor-thin-margin retailers adopting new checkout and loyalty programs is the cost of buying the many new pieces of hardware, plus the cost of integrating the software into legacy POS (point-of-sale) systems. Read more...

Discover CIO: Retail Technology Ready for Major Changes

August 10th, 2004

Today's retail payment space is ripe for radical change, says the CIO for Morgan Stanley's Discover Financial Services Inc. unit. And when radical change happens, it can shake up an industry, and market leaders can find themselves in a market that is much less friendly than before. "I've never seen so much change in a particular space at any one point in time. In Europe, there is a movement mandating the use of chip cards and PINs," said Diane Offereins, Discover's CIO and executive vice president. Read more...

Is Retail IT Being Killed by Complacency?

August 10th, 2004

Are retail IT execs too comfortable and timid to be effective? Are legacy systems so extensive, the fundamental infrastructure so adequate and the margins so tight that modernization is too much work and too risky? Those decidedly uncomfortable questions were raised by the CIO of Discover Financial in an interview. Read more...

Integrated Device Could Ease RFID Processing

August 10th, 2004

A large French electrical equipment supplier introduced a way for suppliers to more seamlessly integrate RFID capabilities into existing equipment, which could lessen the supplier burden and possibly accelerate and broaden RFID adoption. TCP Open, the approach unveiled by $9 billion Schneider Electric, allows a supplier's PLC (programmable logic controller) automation systems to communicate directly with various third-party TCP devices, including radio frequency tag readers, printers, bar-code readers and other PLCs. Read more...

Intelligent Cart Brings ‘Jetsons’-Style Shopping

August 5th, 2004

Envision opening a refrigerator, making a tuna-fish sandwich and using the last of the mayonnaise. You scan the empty jar on the freezer door for two seconds and then recycle the sticky jar.

Three days later, you walk into your local grocery store and grab a cart, which displays a list of everything you need. Some of the items came from a list you e-mailed to your store, others are things the cart thinks you're probably out of (you haven't purchased milk in two weeks and your last portion had an expiration date of eight days ago), and some are things that your refrigerator told your shopping cart about. Read more...


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