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Industry News - April 6th 2014



Walgreens Plans Q3 Launch for New Customer Loyalty Program

Walgreens plans to introduce a customer loyalty program in September, and the nation's largest drugstore chain will also complete the chainwide rollout of its next-generation point-of-sale system by the end of 2014. The retailer's technology investments, which also include a 500,000-square-foot e-commerce distribution center that began shipping orders in February, are a significant contributor to a projected $1.4 billion in capital expenditures for Walgreens' fiscal 2014.

"For the [second] quarter, we invested $304 million in capital projects, bringing our year-to-date capital expenditures to $723 million," explained Walgreens CFO Wade Miquelon during a recent conference call discussing financial results for Q2, which ended February 29. The expected $1.4 billion in CapEx for the entire fiscal year reflects "our commitment to continue to invest meaningfully in game-changing technology such as a new POS system and e-commerce distribution center, as well as to continue to invest in our existing store base."

The POS system "is designed to be intuitive and easy to use and is powered by the latest technology in wireless capability," said Walgreens CEO Gregory Wasson. He also noted that the new DC, located in Edwardsville, IL, "is expected to improve customer order delivery time by 50%." Wasson provided no additional details about the retailer's loyalty program beyond the planned mid-September launch date.

Walgreens had $18.7 billion in net sales during Q2, a 0.8% increase over the same period the previous year and a record high for the company. Front-end comp store sales increased 2.1% during the same period.

The retailer is "expanding the scope and reach of Walgreens" through a multi-channel approach, said Wasson. In addition to ongoing progress in its integration of the drugstore.com e-commerce site, the retailer expanded its buy online/pick up in store service from Chicago and San Jose, CA to Indianapolis.

"In mobile, we added new functionality for customers to help them stay on top of their medications and transfer prescriptions in a few easy steps," he added.

On the social media front, Walgreens launched the Answers application on its Facebook page in March. Created in association with Sharecare, an expert question-and-answer online platform addressing health topics, Answers is "a first of its kind interactive portal that gives our two million [Facebook] friends access to valuable health information and resources including prescription drugs, disease symptoms, at-home remedies and over-the-counter recommendations," said Wasson.

"With the success of our online health initiatives, such as the ability to chat live with a Walgreens pharmacist 24/7, this is yet another example of our commitment to innovation in the digital space that gives people greater access to Walgreens pharmacists and other clinical experts," said Walgreens president of e-commerce Sona Chawla. "Our relationship with Sharecare further extends our Answers promise beyond Walgreens retail locations, providing important health care information to customer online, through mobile applications and social media."

Epicor Acquires Internet AutoParts

Epicor Software Corporation has acquired Internet AutoParts (IAP), a provider of business-to-business e-commerce solutions for automotive replacement parts distributors, jobbers and vehicle repair businesses.
"IAP is a perfect complement to our growing range of powerful product research, estimating and sourcing solutions," said Pervez Qureshi, CEO of Epicor. "The IAP platform is a leader in the industry in terms of total connected distributors and service dealers, daily transactions, transaction size and the number of integrated shop management systems."
The IAP e-commerce software is integrated with repair shop business management systems that enable shop users to: manually enter and order specific part numbers, access parts from a customized non-application catalog and provide feedback to parts suppliers. Users will also be able to quickly and easily find and order application parts for a repair as well as cross-reference OE-to-aftermarket and aftermarket-to-aftermarket part numbers. The ability to identify labor costs through an integrated flat-rate labor guide and special product promotions will also be available.
With the acquisition of IAP, Epicor will expand its portfolio of easy-to-use solutions for parts distribution businesses, shop management system providers and automotive service dealers. IAP serves more than 18,000 parts distribution locations and over 148,000 registered automotive service dealers.

Gymboree Enhances Omni-Channel Experience With hybris

The Gymboree Corporation has selected the hybris platform to enhance its e-commerce efforts and provide an omni-channel shopping experience across its three brands: Gymboree, Crazy 8 and Janie and Jack.
"We selected hybris based on the breadth and agility of its solution, the company's alignment with out multichannel vision, and its demonstrated ability to be rapidly implemented," said David Strobelt, vice president of IT and logistics for The Gymboree Corporation. "We have very ambitious goals and are confident that hybris will enable us to meet them. We sought a framework upon which we could adapt and compete in fast changing conditions."
Gymboree required an omni-channel commerce software solution that would allow the business to implement digital marketing and cross-channel shopping capabilities. This tool will help the company to provide customers with a better shopping experience.


Chicken Express Improves its Bottom Line with POS and BI System

Task Retail Technology (TRT) has been selected to deploy their award winning xchangexec, suite of software across all the CJR Lucky Inc. locations, a Chicken Express Franchisee
The xchangexec enterprise solution, was deployed across the franchises through Task Retail’s certified partner, Prism Data Systems of San Antonio, Texas. The system has brought BI analytics to CJR Lucky Inc. to facilitate real time reporting, point of purchase up-selling and enhanced customer service.
“After a detailed evaluation process, we chose TRT’s xchangexec suite of software, as we recognized this product as being at the cutting edge of technology. The suite of software offerings was compelling to our team as it incorporates so much more than a POS system, with its Internet powered business intelligence, loyalty, inventory, integrated digital media, loss prevention tools, unique drive thru technology, compelling offers management and enterprise control,” said Clayton Rhoades of CJR Lucky Inc.


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