SCARBOROUGH, Maine -- A two-month test of a new computer at Hannaford Bros.' main headquarters here has spurred the retailer to order 1,200 units for a chainwide rollout. The machine, which is a personal computer/terminal hybrid, offers pharmacy and direct-store-delivery employees access to both internal communications and software programs, at one-half the price of a PC.
Bill Homa, chief information officer of the 150-store chain, said that because these computers tap into Hannaford's mainframe, employees will be able to access the corporate intranet. The units will also allow them to access the Internet, and will run spreadsheet and word processing applications, along with pharmacy and DSD functions. Homa said that with this computer system, "I would expect in a retail store, based on a dispersed geography, and extended hours of operation, that we would save close to 50% compared to the cost of owning, buying and maintaining a PC."
"These are diskless stations, so there's no software to maintain, there's no moving parts. The footprint is tiny, and retail space is very valuable, so that we can deploy these without taking up valuable merchandising space," he added.
Homa said that Hannaford plans to replace all of its "dumb" terminals in retail, and some of its low-end PCs, with this computer in order to provide more access for associates at all levels within the store.
Currently, Hannaford associates have no, or very little, access to information vehicles such as the corporate intranet. Very few terminals provide access to all available applications.
For example, Hannaford's pharmacy computers do not support e-mail, which means in order to communicate via e-mail, the pharmacist must leave the work station, which is not allowed.
"With this, the same terminal that supports their pharmacy applications would also give [employees] access to web browsers for the Internet, and access to e-mail software," said Homa. Also, employees can run spreadsheets and work on a word processor.
Hannaford has tested eight of these computers at pharmacy and DSD stations in a simulated supermarket environment.
Though Hannaford has had the hardware for a couple of months, the retailer is waiting for the vendor to deliver some additional software that will be tested.