News

In-Store IT Investigation: Kohl’s

BY Dan Berthiaume

As a discount department store retailer, Kohl’s is targeting a middle-class consumer looking for decent quality merchandise at a fair price. Kohl’s array of in-store IT solutions reflects this “Middle America” marketing and merchandising approach by focusing on self-service technology that makes finding products and determining prices as quick and convenient as possible, rather than leading-edge solutions that might appeal to higher-income, connected shoppers.

Digital price display
Prices are mostly displayed on rectangular digital signs from Altierre Corp. The signs, many of which feature back-to-back screens, display basic price information for individual products as well as sale information for multiple products. For example, if a variety of shirts with different price points from the same brand are all being offered at 50% off, the sign will advertise the 50% off sale and also list the new discounted cost for each individual price point in smaller text.

Most of the signs are large enough to be clearly seen from some distance away, although Kohl’s also uses small digital price tags at the shelf level, and presumably help Kohl’s avoid pricing errors and quickly update pricing information in response to the retailer’s frequent sales and markdowns. Larger signs are usually attached on the top of fixtures such as display racks while the smaller tags are directly fixed to shelves directly underneath the relevant product.

Self-service price check
For items that do not have a digital price display or affixed price tag, Kohl’s offers several Symbol MK series price checking microkiosks throughout the store. The kiosks are clearly marked with colorful signage and allow customers to scan product barcodes with an attached Symbol reader to have the price digitally displayed on the kiosk screen. A button allows customers to call for employee assistance if needed.

Touch-screen kiosks
In addition, Kohl’s offers larger self-service touchscreen kiosks from NCR that allow shoppers to place items on gift registries as well as check prices and availability of product inventory either in the store or at other nearby stores or on the Kohl’s website. By scanning a barcode, customers can automatically include an item on their gift registry, as well as check a price and also see where in the store the product is located.

Furthermore, customers can use the kiosk check to see if colors, sizes or styles of a particular product that are not available in the store are available at another nearby Kohl’s store or online. Customers can directly order products from the Kohl’s site via the kiosk and have them shipped with free home delivery. Payment is made via an IDTech cardswipe attached to the kiosk. The kiosk displays run to almost ceiling height with prominent signage, and are usually placed in high-traffic areas such as near the entrance.

Point–of-sale
Although Kohl’s announced in January 2013 that it would implement the new omni-channel Toshiba TCxGravity POS platform, at the store that Chain Store Age visited, the retailer used basic IBM 4690 POS terminals with Symbol scanners and IIngenico card swipes.


Past In-Store IT Investigation entries

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OPERATIONS

Retail industry adds 43,600 jobs in August

BY Marianne Wilson

Washington, D.C. — The National Retail Federation calculated retail industry job gains at 43,600 in August, with marked increases in clothing, general merchandise and electronics stores.

“While the jobs numbers weren’t as strong as anticipated, they indicate a more positive trend,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “We are expecting further signs of strengthening in the second half of the year. Retailers are making headway but challenges remain. Slow wage growth and downward jobs revisions continue to indicate a reluctant economy.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics employment situation report showed that the economy added 169,000 jobs in August, which lowered the unemployment rate to 7.3%.

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FINANCE

Gap same-store growth slows in August

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Francisco – Gap reported same-store sales growth in its three global retail brands in August of this year that was significantly lower than in the same month last year. Gap global same-store sales rose 2% compared to 6% last year. At Banana Republic, same-store sales increased 2% compared to 8% last year, and Old Navy same-store sales grew 1% compared to 12% last year.

Net sales for the month were $1.23 billion, up 2.5% from net sales of $1.2 billion for the same month last year.

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