FOOD CIRCUS UPGRADES POS

MIDDLETOWN, N.J. -- Food Circus Supermarkets here is using a recent point-of-sale upgrade as a launching pad for a number of new initiatives.The 12-store chain recently rolled out integrated credit and debit readers in all but one of its stores and plans to introduce a check authorization program this month. The retailer is also now equipped to process electronic benefits transfer.The integrated credit

MIDDLETOWN, N.J. -- Food Circus Supermarkets here is using a recent point-of-sale upgrade as a launching pad for a number of new initiatives.

The 12-store chain recently rolled out integrated credit and debit readers in all but one of its stores and plans to introduce a check authorization program this month. The retailer is also now equipped to process electronic benefits transfer.

The integrated credit readers have vastly improved cashier operations, said John Azzolina, director of POS. The Food Circus stores that previously accepted credit used stand-beside readers in every other lane, which forced some cashiers to leave their posts in order to process a credit transaction.

"There's more accountability and it's much faster," he said.

The upgraded systems have also allowed Food Circus to issue a check cashing card that activates customer discounts. A frequent shopper program may be introduced if the card proves successful.

The retailer will enhance its check authorization program by linking stores this month to a negative check authorization data base used by more than 100 retailers in New York and New Jersey, Azzolina said.

The various initiatives have emerged from the introduction of front-end scanners to eight of the retailer's stores over the last year. Food Circus previously had only three scanning stores.

"For us to compete, we had to get into scanning," Azzolina said. "There are lots of new marketing programs associated with it."

"We have better productivity from the stores and our gross profits have increased quite a bit because of [improved] pricing accuracy," he said. "When we test-scanned the stores, there were a lot of areas that were inaccurate. Price changes weren't updated the way they should have been," he added.