Magazine Article | February 1, 2006

Cut Costs, Improve Client Service With Pagers

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

By upgrading its pagers, this retailer reduced repair costs by 30% and improved internal order processing.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, February 2006

The Container Store, the original storage and organization store, employs 3,500 people nationwide and exceeded $440 million in revenue last year. The retailer began in 1978, generating a new category in retailing – one of organization and storage solutions. Today it sells its products and services at 36 locations coast to coast. Lori Laznovsky, training manager at The Container Store, is responsible for ensuring that the company's software is user-friendly, fully integrated with other store systems, and that each employee knows how to use the software.

"When a customer wants to transform his closet or another space in his home, he'll work with one of our organization experts to design a custom space that is suited for his needs using our Custom Planning Center software. If the customer decides to purchase the products in the proposed plan, a store employee custom cuts and packages the products purchased," says Laznovsky. "The products are then loaded in the customer's vehicle. During this process, the customer may encounter waiting periods – for the plan products to be pulled and cut, if needed. We provide customers with pagers while they're waiting, so they can continue shopping in our store or other stores nearby."

The Container Store was experiencing problems with the pagers it was using. The pagers had clips attached that frequently broke off. This required the entire pager to be sent away for repair, sometimes leaving the store with an inadequate number of pagers. The pagers also required replacement batteries, which contributed to the high maintenance cost. "Our pagers were difficult for employees to use, and they were not integrated with other store systems," says Laznovsky. The pagers were often lost, as customers accidentally walked away with them or lost them.

The Container Store interviewed four vendors in the pager solutions business. It decided to implement Long Range Systems' Cool Blue coaster pagers for customers and Staff pagers for its employees. The employees are paged for various reasons, such as a cashier needing assistance or upon completion of a customer order. The service on new pagers and transmitters has improved significantly; new equipment is now issued within 24 hours by Long Range Systems, when necessary.

Pagers, Store Systems Improve Customer Service
"The paging system is now integrated with our Custom Planning Center software. This integration saves employees a great deal of time," says Laznovsky. "Because the system automatically triggers the page of customers and employees as phases are completed, this allows employees more time with customers." The coaster pagers are easy to use and lightweight. "The pagers vibrate and light up, which has reduced the number of lost pagers by 75%," says Laznovsky. "They are rechargeable, reducing battery costs. Overall, pager repair fees were reduced by 30%."

Employee pagers have allowed employees to more promptly respond to customers. The Container Store is investigating expanding the use of employee pagers, due to the versatility of the pagers themselves. Each pager contains up to four lights that can be assigned corresponding meanings. For example, a particular light on the pager could notify a manager that there are different tasks that need to be accomplished. This provides improved response time to employees, which in turn better serves The Container Stores' customers.