Ka-ching – faster transactions coming

New point of sale software coming to Army thrift stores.

by Piers Fairclough –

“I love it!”

That was the reaction of Long Beach Main Store Manager Roger Johnson to the new point of sale software currently being tested by the Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) Command. For a long time, the ARC has for relied on technology to help it achieve its goals, and the new thrift store software is another major move forward.

Major Ron Strickland, territorial secretary for Business Administration, initially approved and pushed forward the software project. ARC Commander Major Man-Hee Chang, who gave the go-ahead for the beta test, commented, “The upgrading of our tools in the thrift stores will help the command in service to people and management of our resources.”

Point of sale technology
The existing point of sale software was built using older technology, running on an operating system that has been obsolete for many years, Windows 95. The need to meet much more stringent regulatory and security requirements has necessitated a complete rewrite of the software to run on the Windows XP operating system. In addition, credit card processing is being switched from dial-out over regular phone lines to broadband web-based processing. For the customer, this will greatly reduce the current wait for the register to dial out and receive a credit card authorization, which currently takes two or three minutes. The new system returns these approvals in a matter of seconds. The new software will also allow the ARC to capture more information, including sales per hour and per zip code, etc., as well as the future possibility of having ARC thrift store gift cards. The registers will send information back to the ARC Command headquarters constantly, giving the status of both the equipment and the software, so problems can be more easily and quickly identified and addressed.

While the new software can run on most of the existing equipment, it was developed with touch screens in mind, so that eventually the stores will be able to move away from keyboards to the much more robust touch screens used in many retail environments. As Salvation Army locations other than ARC Thrift Stores require point of sale capabilities, this technology will continue to be useful. The new system will also allow territorial headquarters’ (THQ) information technology (IT) staff to provide better support, since they will be able to access these systems remotely in the same way that they support desktop personal computers.

Software roll out
This summer’s territorial roll out of the new software will require the coordination of many different groups within the THQ IT department. With over 150 store locations and over 400 registers, the installation of high-speed internet, new computers and new software is a massive undertaking. Chief Information Officer Clarence White is confident that the IT department is up to the task, stating, “We are fortunate to have many dedicated IT personnel all around the territory we can deploy to break this huge project into manageable pieces. All of us who are involved are excited about the opportunity to better serve our customers and improve our operational efficiency at the same time.”

The new software will be tested at Long Beach Main store for one month before being rolled out to the rest of the ARC Thrift stores.

In the meantime, bring in your copy of New Frontier and receive a onetime 10 percent discount from any ARC thrift store in the Western Territory.

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