Taking Tech to Retail

By Carol Ellison  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

With IT spending back on the rise, vendors and their partners showcased deployments and rolled out new solutions at the National Retail Federation's Big Show 2004 in New York this week.

Microsoft has scored some major deployments for its Windows XP Embedded operating system. At the National Retail Federation in New York this week, it announced that RadioShack Corporation will be deploying some 8,000 Windows XP-based point-of-sale (POS) systems in more than 5000 company owned stores. Circuit City Stores Inc., and Meijer Inc. are deploying POS systems based on Windows XP Embedded across their retail chains, as well.

"We are extremely pleased that retailers have recognized the potential of Windows XP Embedded for retail devices," said Todd Warren, general manager of the embedded devices group at Microsoft. "Retailers can deploy low-cost, PC-architecture hardware while running rich native and managed retail application software that is easily integrated into existing and next-generation IT infrastructure."

Radio Shack is also deploying Microsoft's new Systems Management Server 2003 to track assets, deploy applications and manage patches on Windows XP Embedded devices. Radio Shack worked with Microsoft Consulting Services through Microsoft's Smarter Retailing Initiative, to develop and deploy a Windows XP Embedded image across Dell and Hewlett-Packard systems. Radio Shack's internal IT staff, working with Microsoft consultants, integrated the solution into 8,000 cash lanes in less than 12 weeks.

A Windows-based solution was at the center of another announcement at the expo.

Neoware, IBM Deploy Thin Client Solution

Thin client provider Neoware Systems and its marketing partner, IBM, announced a major contract to deploy thin client architecture across the 30 Michigan retail and warehouse locations of Art Van Furniture, the nation's largest independent furniture retailer. The network will replace point-of-sale and inventory systems previously accessed via dumb terminals with a Windows-based system and office applications that can be accessed from showroom floors. Wireless appliances will be deployed in warehouses to facilitate inventory management.

"The core of our technology platform has been our server-based point-of-sale system, and Neoware provided a solution that allows us to continue to access years of data within our existing environment and upgrade our field systems with leading-edge technology, without having to do a costly system upgrade," said Matt McGlynn, Operations Manager of Art Van Furniture.

Neoware specializes in vertical market applications, enabling cross-platform network access. Its software and appliances support multi-user Windows servers, Linux servers, IP, mainframes and minicomputers.

SAS Introduces New Retail Business Units

Business intelligence vendor SAS unveiled a new global retail business practice, a new US retail industry sales and professional services unit, and announced new software that targets the unique needs of the retail industry. The new retail marketing push follows SAS's acquisition of Marketmax in October.

Lori Schafer, former CEO and president of Marketmax, will lead the global retail business practice, working with retail customers in the Americas, Europe and Asia/Pacific.

Gene Gsell, former chief marketing and sales officer at Marketmax, will lead the U.S. retail sales unit. Gsell led the pre-and post-sales, alliances and marketing departments at Marketmax.

SAS plans to roll out the first of three packaged pricing applications and deliver a set of retail intelligence solutions in 2004 to address the areas of customer insight, supply chain cost transparency, promotional effectiveness and overall scorecarding.

New Product Introductions

Also at the show:

Symbol introduced three new products: a Windows CE .NET-based payment transaction terminal, the PD 8500, which supports secure payment and is compliant with Visa Online personal identification number requirements; the MK 1100 Micro Kiosk, an interactive self-service kiosk for both customer and employee applications; and the Symbol Clientele 1:1 Solution Suite, a software system that operates on Symbol handheld computers to guide sales associates through proven best practices of one-to-one selling.

Hypercom introduced its new high-security S9 payment device which includes unique merchant branding features, supports easy integration with leading POS systems, and provides options for reading both magnetic stripe and smart cards.

Retek Inc. announced a cross-platform product information management (PIM) solution, Retek Master Data Management (MDM) which synchronizes item data across retailers' internal systems with suppliers to enhance data quality, speed the time-to-market for new products and reduce labor costs.

"With numerous manual data entry processes across multiple applications, product data errors are pervasive and result in purchase order discrepancies, longer lead times and inefficient use of human resources," said Andrew White, Enterprise & Supply Chain Management Research Director at Gartner. "While many retailers are eager to realize the significant benefits from integrating their item data, some have already improved their product information management by connecting to supplier data in a variety of ways: home grown EDI VANs such as QRS, e-Marketplaces such as WWRE or registries such as UCCnet."

Carol Ellison is editor of eWEEK.com's Mobile & Wireless Topic Center. She has authored whitepapers on wireless computing (two on network security–,Securing Wi-Fi Wireless Networks with Today's Technologies, Wi-Fi Protected Access: Strong, Standards-based Interoperable Security for Today's Wi-Fi Networks, and Wi-Fi Public Access: Enabling the future with public wireless networks.

Ms. Ellison served in senior and executive editorial positions for Ziff Davis Media and CMP Media. As an executive editor at Ziff Davis Media, she launched the networking track of The IT Insider Series, a newsletter/conference/Web site offering targeted to chief information officers and corporate directors of information technology. As senior editor at CMP Media's VARBusiness, she launched the Web site, VARBusiness University, an online professional resource center for value-added resellers of information technology.

Ms. Ellison has chaired numerous industry panels and has been quoted as a networking and educational technology expert in The New York Times, Newsday, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, CNN Headline News, WNBC and CNN/FN, as well as local and regional Comcast and Cablevision reports. Her articles have appeared in most major hi-tech publications and numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor.

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