Magazine Article | January 1, 2002

Eliminating A POS Legacy

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

Wawa replaced its legacy POS (point of sale) hardware and software in preparation for major expansion and future technology, such as frame relay credit.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, January 2002

The word "legacy" could elicit two different reactions in a person. If it means you just inherited vast amounts of wealth from a rich uncle, you might hope to carry on your family's good fortune. But when legacy describes your company's technology, you might be better off leaving it behind. If you find yourself in the latter situation, chances are your company will follow the trend of replacing legacy systems with open technology applications.

Patrick Dougherty, manager of store automation at Wawa (Wawa, PA), understands the challenge of converting old to new. Wawa operates legacy software on three different kinds of hardware across 525 stores. Since 80 of its convenience stores also offer gasoline to its customers, Wawa discovered a key business driver for change to be faster credit transactions. But with an aggressive growth plan of 300 stores pumping gas by 2004, as well as future technology goals such as RFID (radio frequency identification), Wawa needed to invest in new POS (point of sale) systems.

Upgrade The POS Without Losing The Functionality
Like many retail systems, Wawa installed its base POS software in the late 1980s and added to it from there. In the mid-1990s, the company added fuel to its retail repertoire, creating a need for credit transactions within its traditionally cash-only operation. "One of the biggest things we considered was our hybrid model. There are many vendors that have good fuel management systems, but not in conjunction with the convenience store features, such as dual cash drawers, integrated electronic safes, and money order machines," Dougherty said. Wawa worked with former technology company SASI for its POS hardware and software needs, until Triversity (Toronto) purchased SASI in 2000 and stopped offering POS hardware. When it came time to replace its POS software and hardware systems, Wawa decided to install Triversity's Transactionware FDC - Cypress POS software on Wincor Nixdorf (Austin, TX) BEETLE POS hardware. All of the BEETLE POS systems will run on the Microsoft Windows 2000 operating system and will communicate with Wawa's gas pumps using Allied Electronics' ANDI boxes.

Wawa needed its new POS system to be able to handle both credit transactions for fuel and high-volume convenience store purchases. The average store transaction is only $4, but as its fuel volume increases, Wawa needs to be able to increase the speed of its credit card transactions. The new system from Triversity and Wincor Nixdorf will enable the retailer to replace its dial-up terminals with a frame relay system, reducing the transaction time from 20 seconds to 2 seconds.

Hardware, Software Upgrades: Foundation For The Future
The new system offered unique hardware features that fit well in the convenience store environment and sold Wawa on the system. The register touch screens cut the number of function keys Wawa associates view from 104 to 20. "We have the ability to display only the keys employees need to complete a specific task. It reduces the number of keystrokes necessary and simplifies the cash-out processes," Dougherty said. The Wincor Nixdorf system also allows each of the screens connected to the BEETLE terminal to display distinctly different content. This way a store clerk can view the transaction information while the customer views in-store promotions or Wawa recruitment messages.

Wawa's change in POS software and hardware opened more opportunity for future installations. "We wanted to lay a foundation for future enhancements such as RFID, customer loyalty programs, gift cards, and faster credit transactions," Dougherty said.