Real-time POS integrates systems for Levines

Levines Department Stores in the Dallas area has replaced an old, problematic POS system with a single-source real-time POS solution, reported Integrated Solutions for Retailers.

Several years ago, the old POS system started to show its age. Batch processing limited the Levines inventory's visibility, which hampered its ability to react to market trends. The company was running disjointed systems so its accounting, POS and inventory control processes were tied together loosely using inefficient manual intervention. On top of that, a lack of connectivity among its more remote stores forced the company to rely on distributing sales and inventory data via fax and mail.

In 2005, a dress code change for the 2006-2007 school year was announced by the Dallas Independent School District. This meant massive inventory allocation and sales ramifications for the back-to-school selling season, but the retailer had to act quickly to take advantage of the opportunity.

"We had been serving the private school uniform market on a smaller scale, so we had some familiarity with the concept, but we didn't have the processes or infrastructure to manage the school uniform opportunity on such a large scale," Damon King, general manager at Levines, told Integrated Solutions for Retailers. "Our inventory, POS and financial systems were far too manual."

In evaluating its options, Levines came to ChainDrive by Multidev. "ChainDrive offered the complete integration we were looking for, which would ultimately result in the inventory and sales visibility improvements we needed to adapt to changes in our market, such as the school uniform policy. Moving from a cornucopia of processes to a live, real-time, continuously updated system was painstaking, but it was our best path to the efficiency we needed," King said.

At a basic level, the ChainDrive real-time system improved inventory control. "The reporting we got on what was sold allowed us to implement tighter min/max reordering functionality," he said.

Levines was also attracted to Multidev because the vendor committed to supporting some of the retailer's customer-centric systems. "For example, we looked at several POS systems, but none were able to handle layaway processing like we do," King said.

Levines builds many of its marketing campaigns on layaway.

So important is layaway at Levines that the retailer builds many of its marketing campaigns on the offering. "Historically, tracking payment plans, managing layaway cancellations, restocking, managing accounts receivable and all the customer communication associated with the program were a manual effort. Automating those processes has allowed us to become more creative with our layaway marketing," he said.

"The ability to easily identify our best layaway customers has resulted in a measurable sales lift when we market layaway specials to them."

On the back end, real-time data and customer visibility help Levines ensure its stock position is adequate to meet demand, and it allows the company to identify its best customers and send them targeted marketing that's relevant to their specific preferences, he said.

ChainDrive enabled Levines to integrate credit card processing with PIN-based electronic signature capture, and this resulted in far fewer errors. "In our old batch process, freestanding credit card terminals served two or three different POS stations. Manual entry of tender type resulted in three or four different batches coming out of each store at the end of the day, and errors to those tender type inputs regularly caused nightmares for accounting," King said.

For more:
- See this Integrated Solutions for Retailers article
- See the ChainDrive website

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