Magazine Article | September 19, 2006

Can You Reduce Credit Card Processing Time By 80%?

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

The Seattle Mariners cut inventory by more than $100,000 and increased accuracy of replenishment with a new POS/merchandising system.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, October 2006

Fans attending sporting events seek to quickly purchase merchandise before and after the event, as well as during breaks. For retailers, having a speedy POS system, swift inventory replenishment, and attentive customer service representatives are the key factors in keeping fans happy. The Seattle Mariners are no exception to this rule.

The Mariners have six team stores in the Seattle area and one within the Safeco ballpark. The team also sells select merchandise at several walk-up kiosk counters within the arena. During each home game, the ballpark store, which has direct street access and opens prior to the stadium gates, handles 3,000 to 5,000 merchandise transactions, 60% of which occur prior to the first pitch. The Mariners franchise needed a POS system that could handle a high number of transactions at peak times. Also, in order to have the proper assortment of trendy merchandise at specific locations, it needed to streamline processes at its DC, which supplies all retail locations. Finally, the retailer sought to generate detailed reports on sales, inventory, and profit information.

The retailer’s POS system used a dial-up connection for credit card processing, and it failed to track detailed product information, such as size, color, and style. Finally, the warehouse system required a manual process for store replenishment, which was tricky at ballpark locations when back-to-back home games occurred. Therefore, the Mariners’ Senior Retail Director Jim LaShell searched for new solutions. Wanting to transfer information between the front and back office, he chose the POS, merchandising, and warehouse systems from Epicor|CRS.

The solution was deployed using some of the retailer’s existing hardware. A few PCs required memory upgrades, while others were replaced with PCs from MICROS. All POS locations were equipped with Ithaca Series 280 thermal receipt printers, check scanners, and Symbol bar code scanners.

“The POS transaction time has been reduced,” says LaShell. “By using scanners, we track more information, which assists the merchandising process. The scanners eliminated the need to manually type product numbers at the POS. This reduced time and improved the accuracy of product information tracked for sold merchandise. We now scan checks and accept debit, credit, and gift cards. Credit card authorizations take only 2 seconds versus 10 in the past over the network.” Most retail employees are new each season; therefore, the Mariners profited from the easy-to-operate nature of the system.

Reduce Replenishment Time

DC and merchandising operations were also streamlined. “We used to trigger replenishment based on the sale of each item,” says LaShell. “Now, we base it on historical sales performance. We ensure the right merchandise is available for fans by reviewing what is on order, when it will be delivered, what’s been sold, and what’s in stock.”

When orders are generated in the DC, they display on Symbol handheld scanners, which display the merchandise bin  and the quantity needed. Items are picked, scanned, and placed in a box for each location. When full, a label is generated, scanned, and placed on the box. “The label provides an accuracy check for us,” says LaShell. “By scanning the label, we know every item in that box. We’ve reduced errors and time with this process because we implemented an ‘assumed receiving’ philosophy at the ballpark locations. We assume all items indicated on the label are in the box, which eliminates the need to track items as they are unpacked and restocked. Overall, the improvements allowed us to cut our inventory on hand by more than $100,000, boost sales, and ensure that the sought-after merchandise is available. Using Epicor|CRS solutions to improve POS functionality and merchandising and DC processes, we’ve improved the shopping experience for all of our fans.”