IT gives Woolies no downtime Christmas present

Woolworths' investment in transaction processing tech has paid off for the retail chain, after it experienced a downtime-free Christmas period.

Woolworths' investment in transaction processing tech has paid off for the retail chain, after it experienced a downtime-free Christmas period.

Speaking at the company's half yearly results announcement yesterday, Woolworths CEO Michael Luscombe revealed that the company's sales technology had seen its supermarkets process transactions faster than ever during the festive period.

"It's the first Christmas we had 92 percent [of credit card transactions] completed in under one second and over 99 percent completed in less than two seconds and we had no downtime.

"It's the first Christmas we had that speed and that time, and the investment in state of art tech has been well worthwhile and obviously will create a platform for other transactions we have out there in the marketplace," Luscombe said, highlighting its ATMs and credit card business.

During the Christmas shopping period the retail chain said it dealt with over AU$8 billion dollars in credit card transactions.

The company is also beginning to spread the technology developed by Woolworths to other business units.

"We're going to leverage what we've learnt in supermarkets across the business. We're already starting to deliver the systems into the liquor business, into the New Zealand business, which is well underway, and we're altering them or customising them for the Big W business as part of [Big W's technology revamp] Quicksilver," Luscombe told investors.

The retail chain said it is turning to technology to deliver a better rate of "in stock items" through its StockSmart and AutoStockR forecast-based restocking systems for distribution centres and supermarkets, as well as warehouse and transport management systems.

The supermarket is currently in the process of standardising all of its New Zealand supermarkets' systems onto Woolworths platforms, including StockSmart and AutoStockR, which the company said will be deployed before the end of the year.

"The integration of various systems -- merchandising, point of sale, finance etc. -- are all on track, either delivered in the case of finance, or being rolled out in the case of point of sale. Merchandising is near enough to complete as well," Luscombe noted.

"We continue to refine and improve our IT capabilities, which will continue to provide further benefits," the company said in its stock market filing.

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