Home Depot: NCR Kicked Out Because Self-Checkout Rival 20 Percent Faster, More Functionality

Longtime self-checkout enthusiast Home Depot is sticking with self-checkout but making a change in its self-checkout software. The home improvement superstore is pushing NCR software out and bringing Fujitsu in, at least in the chain's U.S. and Canadian stores.

The chain had been using NCR machines running NCR software but will now apparently be loading Fujitsu software onto those NCR machines, according to Fujitsu officials. The NCR hardware will be staying, for now.

The change was for several reasons, including "some functionality in the Fujitsu software that we really liked and needed" that wasn't offered by NCR and testing that showed Fujitsu's software on NCR self-checkout units performed about 20 percent faster than when NCR's own software was loaded on its units, said Cara Kinzey, Home Depot's Senior VP of IT. Kinzey wouldn't specify the functionality that Home Depot had desired as that would be a competitive advantage, she said.

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But speed was a very significant factor. "The way that you can control the changes with Fujitsu is a lot faster. It delivers a faster scan based on how the code works," Kinzey said, adding that there is a healthy chunk of Home Depot proprietary coding involved. In other words, in a different retail environment with different retail code, the NCR software might not be that much slower than Fujitsu's.

One reason for the speed difference, Kinzey said, is that the NCR software was screenscraping the data while Fujitsu does a straight data read. "A data read is much faster" but "NCR may not be screenscraping for every company."

Asked why Home Depot didn't transition out NCR hardware at the same time as the software change, Kinzey said the reason for logistical and budgetary. "We have got a lot of money in this hardware," she said, adding that all technology is routinely reviewed. NCR was notified of the change "about three months ago," Kinzey said.