GIANT IS UPGRADING POS UNITS IN PHARMACIES

LANDOVER, Md. -- Giant Food here will begin a 140-store rollout of new PC-based point-of-sale terminals for its in-store pharmacies in May.The open-systems technology employs a graphical interface, allowing users to alternate pharmacy-specific screens, such as those containing health insurance information, with those used for tendering and other POS transactions, according to Mike Hayden, manager

LANDOVER, Md. -- Giant Food here will begin a 140-store rollout of new PC-based point-of-sale terminals for its in-store pharmacies in May.

The open-systems technology employs a graphical interface, allowing users to alternate pharmacy-specific screens, such as those containing health insurance information, with those used for tendering and other POS transactions, according to Mike Hayden, manager of store systems for Giant Food.

Previously, some of the pharmacies had two separate POS terminals, or used paper-based systems for pharmacy applications, according to a source familiar with the situation.

A one-store pilot test, from November 1997 to February 1998, lowered POS error rates, which are traditionally high among pharmacy technicians.

"The 'buttons' on the touch screen change depending on the state of the program, only showing those applicable to the area someone is working on," Hayden explained.

The system "makes it easier to lead the operator through various functions," he added. "Not only does this give more information to the operator, but there's less likelihood of mistakes."

Because pharmacy technicians will be better equipped to handle cashier functions, "we'll be able to reduce the number of positions we need [to staff] the pharmacy," said Hayden.

The rollout, which is expected to take three months, will encompass all Giant Food stores with pharmacies. The retailer is currently deciding what POS hardware to use; the pharmacy application is from Matra Systems, Duluth, Ga.