Feature

Thin clients reduce waiting times

Mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse is investing nearly £1m in thin client technology in a bid to cut costs and improve customer waiting times

Daniel Thomas

The phone supplier has installed Winterm 8360SE Windows custom-application terminal (Wincat) as electronic point of sale (Epos) terminals in all of Carphone Warehouse's 450 stores nationwide.

Steve Phelan, IT systems consultant at Carphone Warehouse, said, "Our driving goals were reducing cost and increasing reliability, and we wanted a system that had flexibility and offered future ease of use."

Phelan explained that with the old PC-based store tills, hard disc failure was the most common cause of Epos shut down. With repairs having to be scheduled for the next day, it would mean that a store could lose up to 25% of sales capacity, depending on the number of Epos machines affected. Also, closed tills meant customers had to wait longer for service, which in some cases led to missed sales opportunities.

Because of these problems, Carphone Warehouse managing director Charles Dunstone asked the IT department to investigate new Epos systems.

Phelan explained, "Wyse thin clients were able to deliver much better reliability than PCs. Installation is far easier as the products require very little configuration and the ability for customisation is a key benefit."

Each unit, which comes with a flat panel screen, printer and cash drawer, has intranet capabilities and features a smartcard redirector on the back of the till. This gives Carphone Warehouse the capability to update customers' mobile phone sim cards at the till.

Carphone Warehouse is also deploying 200 Wyse Winterms to its head office as part of a Citrix remote desktop protocol program. This will offer users access to Windows applications without the need for PCs. Another 100 units will be installed at the company's customer response centre in the Midlands.

Business benefits

  • Reduced costs

  • Increased reliability

  • Improved customer service

  • Intranet and smartcard capability

  • Easy installation

  • Opportunity for customisation

  • The Wincat operates with existing Compaq Alpha servers running Open VMS.

    The technology

  • Carphone Warehouse is installing the Wyse Wincat 8360SE with customised embedded Windows NT 4.0 in 450 stores, its head office and customer response centre

  • In addition to the Win32 application, the Wincat also features a local Internet Explorer 5.0 browser and local Media Player

  • The Wincat can drop into most enterprise server environments, including Windows 2000 and Citrix Metaframe for Windows 2000

  • The Wincat has "visit free" management and configuration through Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol support and onboard virtual network computing shadowing capabilities.


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    This was first published in October 2000

     

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