Please Mum gratified with POS upgrade

Please Mum, a Vancouver-based children’s clothing retailer with 77 locations across Canada, has brought high-speed to its point of sale system and seen its connection times drop by a factor of 10.

Please Mum CFO Mark Wilkie

said the old POS system used dial-up for credit, debit and gift card transactions. For credit or debit transactions, connections to its POS provider would take 30 to 40 seconds. For gift card transactions, a connection to their head office database would take up to one minute.

“We were looking at a very long transaction time,” said Wilkie. “When you go into a retail store and there’s a long line-up at the till it detracts from your inclination to make a purchase.”

Wilkie said they looked at a number of solutions before settling on RetailConnect and TurboSwitch from Vancouver’s Radiant Communications. Radiant had worked with Please Mum on its Web site, and he said that past relationship helped.

“You evaluate things on quality, service, and price, and compared to the competitors we found the service with Radiant historically to be good, the quality has been great, and the price was superior,” says Wilkie.

The transactions are encrypted at the store and transmitted via Radiant’s IP payment gateway, cutting the average transaction time to three to four seconds. Since most of Please Mum’s stores are single register, the new system has also reduced the need to add registers, and staff. Wilkie said they’re very pleased with how the system has performed to date.

“It has really improved our check-out time,” said Wilkie. “Downtime has been negligible.”

It took about two months to get the system up and running, but Wilkie said most of the work was done by Radiant. Traffic counters in each store had to be integrated into the system, and Radiant worked with their POS provider to make sure the protocols were compatible.

Another issue was analyzing what infrastructure was available at each store location, 90 per cent of which are in malls. It was a hodge-podge of cable and ADSL connectivity available.

“One of our stores didn’t support either which is kind of a headache, but its no problem to leave one on dial-up,” said Wilkie.

Geoff Davenport, Radiant’s vice president of sales, said high-speed connectivity offers retailers more then just POS, such as daily receipts and reports to head office, and e-mail access to communicate with store managers.

“In the last few years there’s been a strong recognition that high-speed connectivity is cost-effective, and its really being used as an application enabler in retail locations,” said Davenport.

As the cost comes down, applications and solutions that were only affordable for the major retailers are becoming affordable for smaller retailers, who can take advantage of the increased functionality to improve their bottom line and offer better service to their customers, said Davenport.

“It’s very cost effective, and will allow them to do a lot more then the old legacy technology that it’s typically replacing or had been available only to the larger retailer,” he said. “It was far lest cost effective, you really had to be a large retailer to afford it but now the technology is available to others.”

Davenport said Radiant has also worked with larger retailers and restaurant chains like Wal-Mart Canada, A&W and Burger King on POS networks.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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