Retail giant Myer has flagged plans to centralise its back-office systems further in what it today described as a "store of the future" initiative.
"We have identified opportunities to significantly enhance efficiency in stores and their back offices, and a multi-year program known as the Store of the Future has begun," the company said in its annual results session today.
The idea behind the project is to move functions and equipment which would normally reside in individual stores' back offices, such as printers, telephones, workers' compensation and lay-by management, to a central location.
"A lot of those things which were previously done by a fairly large team out the back and required the space can now be done either centrally or automatically," Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes said this morning.
Myer has been involved in a major IT rejuvenation for the last 28 months. This year saw the company finally detach itself from former parent Coles' IT grip and settle into a new five-year outsourcing deal with IBM.
The department store chain has also rolled out its $99 million Mymerch system, which allows Myer's distribution centre network to order goods from suppliers based on daily, as opposed to weekly, stock on-hand data, as well as new IT systems for the distribution centres and wireless technology to help with actions such as stocktake.
Mymerch has already left its mark, playing a part in a drastic reduction of storage space, moving the percentage of front of house selling space from around 60 per cent in some stores to 80 or 85 per cent.
"It's all about taking the area out the back [and] putting it out the front," Brookes said. In Sydney alone, the company has added around 3,300 square metres of trading space, he said.
Apart from making in-roads on the store of the future program, the company hoped also to move on with the introduction of a new point-of-sale system to replace the former over 20-year-old one. The renewal has been slightly delayed, according to the company, but has been scheduled for completion within the next 22 months. A new CCTV system has also been flagged for the same period.