JACKSON, Miss. -- Jitney Jungle Stores of America here is equipping all 106 stores with in-store processors for a client-server computing environment that will support category management activities.
About half the stores are now operating with ISPs that will be linked to headquarters via a wide area network, said Robby Hansbrough, vice president of management information systems.
"Our first implementation of category management was pricing tools. We're doing that in a client-server environment," he said. "We put a complete network in place just for retailer pricing."
Eventually all stores will be linked to headquarters to exchange information via the frame relay communications protocol, which is similar to X.25 packet switching but can handle faster transmission speeds with fewer delays and better data integrity.
"We are putting in a frame relay network for all of our stores to be connected to our data processing shop 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are very excited about that, and it really does open up a lot of communications avenues for cooperative processing between the host and the in-store processors," said Hansbrough.
Jitney Jungle's new automated pricing program enables staff to gather competitors' price data via handheld scanning devices rather than the "tremendously manual" system of hand-written notes that were later entered into a computer. "We have that pricing information to set our pricing strategy right on the systems now instead of looking at the data that somebody wrote down."
The more accurate and speedy data-gathering process has allowed us to reduce "our cycle down to a month of research, and [we] are able to make price changes week to week," he said.
Once retailer pricing is rolled out to all stores, other applications
will be added to the network. "We'll have other modules, like merchandising, shelf systems -- there's just a large gamut of things. We've got a category management [software] package and we're moving toward that now."
Other applications to be added to in-store processors include video, pharmacy and a new direct-store-delivery system.
"We're trying, as much as we possibly can, to have most of our applications running on one in-store processor, where we can maintain and support that more effectively," Hansbrough said.
Jitney Jungle also is upgrading the front end at most stores, installing terminals to process credit card transactions and check approvals. Currently, about a dozen stores have been equipped with the devices from Fujitsu ICL Systems, Dallas.
"We'll probably put the terminals in 50% to 75% of our stores, hopefully within our next fiscal year," Hansbrough said. "We're trying to make it easy to use for our cashiers, as well as fast for our customers to process checks, credit cards and hopefully debit cards."