Business might be good - but it could be even better. Find out how one retailer implemented a gift registry, generated more business, and exceeded its own goals to justify the expense of the system.
What's one way to generate more business? Force hundreds of people to shop in your store. But how exactly do you do that? Simple. Implement a gift registry. "Customers were constantly asking us if we had one," explains Mike Prince, VP and CIO of Burlington Coat Factory (Burlington, NJ). "So we put it on our wish list and started shopping for solutions."
The company came across 360Commerce (Austin, TX) through different contacts in the industry. "We had also been keeping our eyes open for some good point of sale software, prior to looking for a registry solution, and 360Commerce is in both marketplaces." Burlington Coat Factory already had a pretty good idea of how it wanted the registry to work. As Prince explains, "They're really not that tough. All registries are pretty straightforward. But one thing that made 360Commerce stand out was their architecture." Burlington was looking for a solution that would run on an open platform - particularly Linux, because it was what the store already used for other devices. Prince said there was great advantage to not having different types of operating systems in the store - namely, not having to support those systems. It also made interchanging the store equipment more feasible. "Overall, the 360Commerce solution could fit into the architecture that we had mandated for the store, it could provide the functionality we were looking for in a registry, its price was right, and from a software standpoint, it was forward looking. For example, the solution is built with Java and with a tool set. This system is something we don't currently support, but could very easily take over," says Prince.
A Quick Pilot, And An Even Quicker Deployment
Burlington Coat Factory ran a 360Commerce pilot in about a half dozen stores...though as Prince says, not for very long. The company knew this was the solution for them and began deployment. "Each store was up and running in less than a day -and we did the whole chain in roughly 6-8 weeks," Prince explains. "What helped to speed up the process was the fact that we already had done the necessary wiring in the stores. And, in most of the stores, we use wireless networks now. They just shipped us the product. All we had to do was provide power to the location where we wanted it, and the system communicated with our Ethernet network - a Cisco Error Net 80211B."
Establish the Registry, Purchase The Gifts, And Update In Real Time
Today the registry is fully operational in all Burlington Coat Factory stores. When a customer comes into the store and expresses an interest in registering, a Burlington employee takes them to a service desk and establishes their registry through the 360Commerce interactive program running on a PC terminal. The customer is then given a handheld scanner and is able to walk through the store. "We let them go around the store and scan the items they wish to add to their registry. When they turn in the scanner, we download the registry to our system by simply pushing a few buttons," explains Prince. If there are no scanners available, the customer can bring the selected items to the service counter and a cashier will scan the items in for them. The customer can also write down the numbers of the selected items if they do not wish to cart the items to the counter. "There have been several times when the number of customers registering exceeded the number of scanners available," explains Prince.
When a customer comes to the store to purchase something for a particular registry, an associate will take the customer to the PC terminal. The associate inputs the name of the registered customer and the system performs a search. When the correct registry has been found, the associate prints out the list - which has a bar code on it identifying the registry number. When a customer purchases something for the registry, they bring their gift, as well as the registry list, to the checkout line. The cashier scans the bar code on the list which updates the registry in real time, so future customers know that item has already been purchased.
According to Prince, the registry has been successful. "We had our own set of goals for the registry that would justify the expenditure of installing this," he explains. "And we have exceeded those." Prince says the next step will be to put the registry up on the Web - in hopes of generating even more business.Questions about this article? E-mail the author at StacyM@corrypub.com.