Retailers Go Tactical With IT Buys

Fewer are buying IT products and services, and those that are buying want purchases to help cut costs and improve customer relations.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

January 14, 2003

2 Min Read

Lackluster sales and shaky consumer confidence have most retailers cautious about IT spending this year. Those bold enough to buy are picking up products designed to reduce costs and improve customer service, according to vendor wins announced at this year's National Retail Federation Convention & Expo.

TJX Companies Inc. has standardized on employee-relationship management software from Workbrain Inc. to help manage nearly 90,000 employees in 1,800 retail stores, the company says. TJX, parent company of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and Home Concepts, will use Workbrain's RetailERM to analyze labor information such as scheduling, attendance, and overtime, enabling it to reduce labor costs and time spent administering management processes. SAP says its sees a need for better workforce-management tools for retailers and is planning to deliver a related Web-based app later this year (see Retailers Look For Clear Returns, Jan. 13).

On the supply-chain side, Family Dollar Stores Inc. says it's purchasing G-Log Inc.'s Global Command and Control Center app to optimize and manage freight processes. Escalate Inc., meanwhile, says Neiman Marcus Direct has implemented Escalate Supplier 5. Neiman Marcus says Escalate Supplier will give its vendors and associates access to order status information online, helping minimize calls to vendors and provide customers with up-to-date order information.

Ross Stores Inc. is buying Fujitsu Transaction Solution Inc.'s TeamPoS 2000 point-of-sale systems for more than 500 stores and will use Fujitsu's services team for project management, installation, and maintenance of the systems. Ross says the new systems, which are designed for easier upgrading, and the contracted services through Fujitsu will help reduce IT costs.

For the most part, retailers will bypass IT infrastructure overhauls this year in favor of technology that solves specific problems, predicts Paula Rosenblum, an analyst with AMR Research. "Massive system replacements are not on the agenda for retail this year," she says. "Retailers are looking for point solutions with rapid return on investment."

Gap Inc., however, may be bucking that trend. The retailer says it has selected a variety of systems, software, and services from Sun Microsystems and its partners for a new infrastructure to run business processes ranging from store-systems support to headquarter apps to distribution centers.

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