HMV, the UK's largest music retailer, is planning to roll out a radio frequency network in its stores later this year, which will allow customers to purchase goods via in-store kiosks, and enable employees to access product information via handheld devices.
David Marklew, head of central operations for HMV UK, said the network will provide the framework for improving efficiency and customer service across the company's 150 stores.
"The aim is to provide a fully integrated system which will allow customers to order online and pick up in-store; to order in-store and have goods delivered; and to order online and have goods delivered," he said.
"We are also planning to pilot handheld devices in-store which will allow employees to provide customers with up-to-date product information."
The projects follow the implementation of a company intranet, which HMV estimates will save between £20,000 and £30,000 a year on logistics and administration.
The intranet, which is based on IBM technology, has vastly improved each store manager's access to key operational information, Marklew said.
"We struggled to update the old system without bringing technical people into the equation, which meant publishing information was time-consuming and managing the information was difficult," he said.
"The intranet allows us to get information to stores as quickly as possible - two-and-a-half days faster than previously - while at the same time reducing paper distribution."
Access to the intranet is currently limited to store managers, but HMV plans to allow customer service staff as well as customers themselves to have access to information via kiosks, Marklew said.
HMV is also planning to implement a catalogue information database, which will be based on IBM's DB2 technology, he added.
"This will automate data input of catalogue information as well as publishing of documents," he said.
"At the moment, all catalogue information is collated from the various departments by product buyers.
"The database will free them up to do their proper jobs," Marklew said.
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