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Bringing the Internet into the Retail Store with IBM StoreFlow

New offering helps retailers better connect systems, manage stores, generate higher revenue, improve customer loyalty and reduce costs

New York, NY - 15 Jan 2000: ... A new, open-architecture, store management solution that connects all of a retailer's technology systems, from the Internet to the back office to the point-of-sale in the store, was announced today by IBM. The new IBM StoreFlow will give retailers the ability to link their existing technology, better use customer information and tap the power of the Internet to grow sales, secure customer loyalty and increase operational efficiency.

Consumers increasingly are demanding a consistent shopping experience from retailers, whether they choose to access the retailer from the Internet, the phone, or in person at a store. This is a major challenge for retailers who must link all of their technology systems. In addition, retailers collect valuable sales data with every transaction at the cash register, but can have difficulty in using that information across their entire enterprise to improve sales, customer loyalty and operations.

"Retail operations on any scale are full of opportunities to earn customer loyalty, but these are often lost without seamless access to information across the store," said IBM's David Petiford, vice president, Global Retail Industry. "IBM StoreFlow integrates point of sale (POS), sales management and enterprise level information to generate ideas to satisfy customers and manage costs."

Thomas Friedman, a leading retail technology industry analyst and publisher of the Retail Systems Alert Research Report said, "StoreFlow should renew interest in point of sale as a customer service tool. This a major issue and opportunity for retailers as they seek to improve customer relationships."

For example, with StoreFlow, customers in a store could purchase an out-of-stock item from the retailer's Web site at the cash register and realize the same loyalty points and discounts they would have received for an in-store purchase.

StoreFlow, which can adapt to department or specialty stores of all sizes and scale from one to hundreds of point-of-sale (POS) systems per store, allows customers and retailers to benefit from the power of the Internet at the in-store POS system.

StoreFlow's promotion and loyalty functions can help generate higher revenue per customer by registering frequent shoppers, assigning points to selected items and defining rewards, all with minimal effort. The program also allows for special attention to be given to specific customers, which can lead to higher sales and better overall customer satisfaction.

StoreFlow delivers the latest Java-enabled POS application, a server with database support, and a sales manager component with a browser-based look and feel -- all working together in an open architecture that accommodates a wide selection of platforms, databases, computing models and applications. StoreFlow can be applied to many existing platforms, including IBM's Web-enabled SurePOS 700 series, so retailers can preserve current existing hardware investments.

In addition, StoreFlow delivers lower total cost of ownership through the network computing model. For example, when a retailer is using a 4690 thin-client environment, POS systems receive applications and data from a StoreFlow application server, which simplifies systems management and provides exceptional cost advantages. StoreFlow runs on the latest version of IBM's 4690 OS, a proven, retail-hardened operating system. A new version of that system, Version 2, Release 4, also is being unveiled today.

Through personalization, StoreFlow allows retailers to configure and reconfigure POS stations quickly and easily. Separate profiles for each department or for specific functions, such as returns, can be created. Most importantly, POS profiles can be changed with point-and-click simplicity.

With StoreFlow, retailers can also choose from a wide range of system applications and display options. StoreFlow's sales manager workstation runs on Windows 2000, while the application server can run on Windows 2000 or AIX. The Java-based POS runs on IBM 4690 OS in thin-client environments or on Windows 2000.

StoreFlow is the in-store component of IBM MerchantReach, a portfolio of solutions allowing retailers of all sizes to integrate their multiple sales channels while leveraging existing investments.

Already used in Europe, Latin America and Mexico, StoreFlow will be available in the United States on April 27, 2001.

Hardware and Software Requirements
IBM StoreFlow is a multi-platform offering. The POS application can run as a standard touchscreen graphical user interface (GUI). The offering also includes an interface for Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) with a documented application programming interface (API) that supports integration with proven and new solutions from leading providers.

IBM Retail Industry
IBM, the world's leading e-business and information technology company, provides the Retail Industry with a full range of e-business solutions, including: hardware and software technology; consulting focused on business transformation, IT strategy and planning, store operations improvement, and supply chain optimization, and with services, such as outsourcing, managed operations, systems integration, and application development and design. For more information on IBM Retail Solutions, please visit www.ibm.com/solutions/retail

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IBM is a registered trademark of the International Business Machines Corporation. StoreFlow is a registered trademark of Informatica El Corte Ingles (IECI) licensed to IBM. All other company names or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Contact(s) information

Greg Thompson
IBM
404-238-5052
Gregory B Thompson/Atlanta/IBM

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