Grand & Toy catches up to competitors’ POS systems

Office supply chain Grand & Toy has replaced its aging point-of-sale equipment with technology that can respond to retail changes in minutes rather than days.

For the Toronto-based retailer, the change had been a long time coming.

“”We felt like we were falling behind other retailers, because we didn’t have a software package that a lot of retailers were using and (we could) not take advantage of best practices,”” said John Melodysta, vice-president of information technology.

Grand & Toy has updated POS terminals in each of its 70-plus stores across the country, replacing 7052 NCR cash registers than ran on DOS with RealPOS 80 NCR machines that operate on Windows 2000. In-store servers have been upgraded from Windows NT machines to Dell PowerEdge 1600 servers on Windows 2000. The stores also switched from dot-matrix to thermal printers for purchase receipts.

“”It’s pretty much an 85 per cent refresh of all the equipment in the store,”” said Dave Klein, business systems analyst.

Each of the new POS terminals has been installed with Triversity‘s Transaction GM POS software throughout Grand & Toy’s 70-plus stores from Ontario to British Columbia.

Prior to Triversity, the company had used the same POS software for 15 years. “”It was some software written by a company that has long since gone out of business,”” said Melodysta.

“”Every time we wanted to make a change, it was a major undertaking. It was one of these things that took weeks and months to do rather than be able to make a change in short order.””

The Triversity software will be instrumental is bringing the company’s retail operations up to date and allow it to offer customer loyalty programs and gift cards, he added.

Most POS changes can be rolled out to the stores almost instantaneously, said Klein, since the Triversity software can be centrally managed from Grand & Toy’s head office.

“”We worked with (Melodysta) and his team within the IT areas to try to understand what they were trying to achieve,”” said Colin Haig, Triversity’s vice-president of business development, based in Toronto.

“”Our software can be changed through business rules instead of through coding. What that means is, if a retailer wants to make a change in a matter of minutes instead of in months.””

Grand & Toy’s comprehensive IT overhaul took a little less than three months and was completed last May through the company’s own IT department and with NCR technicians who installed the hardware.

“”We tried to make the rollout phase as seamless for the end user as possible, because there’s a huge training component if we don’t. The people are going to get new hardware and software, so we wanted to keep the training down to a minimum. We configured the system as close to what we had before,”” said Melodysta.

According to Melodysta, the system will be simpler to use with the start-up process at the beginning of the day and the wind-down process at closing taking only moments as opposed to the half-hour or more with the old system.

The new terminals will also be linked directly into the company’s intranet and real-time processing with existing back-office ERP and supply chain systems. “”Putting in Triversity, we have two-way communication, so we send (stores) product, price and credit information and we receive sales back,”” said Melodysta.

Melodysta said it was difficult to calculate an exact ROI on the new IT, but some savings were realized immediately by moving debit and credit transactions of an old data pack network “”and ride our wide area network . . . which was a huge cost savings.””

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