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Dual-loop token ring checks out at Roses Stores.

At Roses Stores, Inc., a major southeastern U.S. retail discount chain with 232 locations in 11 states, we're committed to using information technology to reach our potential as a service-oriented, customer-driven retailer.

This commitment is evident in Roses' aggressive, chain-wide point-of-sale (POS) conversion project which was completed in June 1991. A sophisticated, custom-tailored UPC (universal price code) scanning system, utilizing automatic price look-up for all merchandise, has been installed in every Roses store--each of which will utilize a unique token ring LAN configuration.

The installation of UPC scanning, which gives Roses the ability to scan bar-code tickets at the point of sale, replaces our Optical Character Recognition (OCR) system, which required wands to read OCR-formatted price tickets.

We moved to UPC to better serve the needs of our management team, store associates, and--most importantly--our customers.

We are also incorporating an additional feature, new to the data communications marketplace, which will make Roses' instore LAN different from most other LANs: the Loop Merge Switch (LMS) from Datatec Industries, Fairfield, N.J.

Key to the success of our venture into UPC scanning and price look-up, the LMS will provide automatic, dual-loop backup and allow Roses to take full advantage of what UPC can offer.

The major goal of Roses' investment in the UPC/Price Look-up scanning system is to improve customer service and utilize the detailed information obtained by scanning to make better merchandising and operation decisions. These benefits include:

* enhanced customer service

* increased cashier productivity at the point-of-sale

* improved accuracy of item capture

* reducing ticketing and marking expenses

* reduced shrinkage

Although our last store was converted in June 1991, we've already realized many of the initial benefits expected from each store's UPC implementation.

Dual loop redundancy

The beauty of Roses' in-store LANs is a dual store loop configuration that provides the redundancy needed when one of the store loops or PSPs fail.

Each of Roses' in-store LANs operate an average of 14 Fujitsu 7770-7880 POS terminals and two separate store communications loops. Each of the two loops talks to its own POS processor, or PSP (a Fujitsu Atrium 9000 terminal), which controls the terminals' requests for data.

Since each loop and its PSP operate independently, we won't lose an entire store when one loop fails. An IBM PS/2 serves as the main in-store processor (ISP) and nerve center for the entire system. The ISP manages the in-store price look-up files and other retail application software which is provided for us by Post Software International of Wake Forest, N.C.

The POS data collected is transmitted nightly from each store to our host computer, an IBM 3090-300S, located at Roses' headquarters.

In our current configuration, without the LMS, when a network breakdown occurs and a loop goes offline, store management must manually locate the malfunction, but that's made faster and easier with the Token Ring Multi-station Access Unit (TRM) from Datatec Industries. The TRM substantially eliminates PC downtime and maximizes token ring network reliability.

Indicator lights and visual and audible alarms pinpoint and announce a problem the second it occurs; managers immediately know when and where the malfunction exists and can avoid expensive downtime.

Conventional MAUs isolate problem PCs without specifying the location or sounding an alarm; they also require store managers to run complex diagnostics.

Although our final LAN configuration, which will include the LMS, won't be complete for several more months, the speed and precision of the UPC scanning network now in effect has already allowed Roses to make major advances towards increased customer service, cashier productivity and data capture accuracy.

Automatic backup

The LMS will provide Roses' in-store token ring networks with the critical, automatic dual-loop backup and allow Roses to maximize the online access capability of the store network. The LMS is now being tested in several Roses locations.

Plans are to begin an aggressive rollout of the units early in 1992.

Together with the TRM, the LMS continuously monitors the health of the in-store system. In the event of a loop failure, the pair will instantly and automatically switch all traffic to the operating PSP so that the entire in-store system will remain up and running.

When the failed loop has been restored, the LMS can automatically transfer that loop back to its original PSP for normal operations. At Roses, we transfer the loop manually to give the downed PSP time to reconcile its files.

Because of the speedy and precise problem identification and automatic backup, we anticipate a significant reduction in our stores' offline transactions and the resulting expense of reentering the data.

The most important benefit is that a failed loop will no longer impact service to our customers.

Roses' commitment to technology is just one goal the company has established far and above the challenge of competition, and we are taking bold, aggressive steps to accomplish these goals. We are confident of moving forward into the 1990s with an increased commitment of providing outstanding service to our customers.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Retail & Wholesale; Rose Stores Inc.
Author:Boxler, Gary
Publication:Communications News
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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