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THIBODAUX, La. - Rouse's Supermarkets expects to finish implementing a thin-client, Linux-driven point-of-sale software solution for all of its 15 grocery stores next month.
With 12 of its 15 locations already completed, the installation converts 200 checkout lanes to ACR 5000 Linux-developed POS software combined with Java technology. The solution is truly thin client, meaning no data resides on any checkout terminal.
"Cost of ownership is probably the biggest factor in moving forward with the implementation," Rouse's v.p. Tommy Rouse told Progressive Grocer. "We already had Linux running on the store servers, and by not having PCs at each lane the costs are driven down.
"Plus, since we already had in-house Linux expertise, and after testing Linux and seeing ACR 5000 in action, it's ideal for us," he added. "It's easy to use, plus we don't have to upgrade outdated PCs and load new software on every machine. 'Thin client' means no hard drives or operating system required, meaning we decrease our POS total cost of ownership, as well as installation expenses."
Rouse expects to save more than $30,000 per store in hardware, software, and maintenance costs during the next five years, when compared with traditional proprietary POS systems.
With the thin-client approach, point-of-sale software and all related data reside on a server at each store. The machines at the check lanes are essentially dumb terminals, which rely on the server. All updates and ongoing maintenance may be performed at the server, with no software maintenance required on the checkout lane terminals. As a result retail outlets with out-of-date PCs can avoid the high costs of replacing these machines and their older operating systems.
"If you upgrade every PC, it adds a lot to your overhead expenses," Rouse said. "Even if you can find inexpensive PCs, you still have to load software. With Linux and ACR's POS solution, we simply load it on the server and reboot. That's a bit simpler than upgrading hundreds of PCs."
While terminals do have to come offline for a minute or so to upgrade or install patches, Rouse can bring down one lane at a time, so traffic flow isn't disrupted.
An ACR client for more than a decade, Rouse's Supermarkets considered all of its options when shopping for this latest upgrade to in-store POS systems. This included testing Windows and Linux solutions from several POS vendors, including ACR and Retalix.
"We dug pretty deep in our testing, which proved that changing vendors just didn't make sense," he said. "Bottom line: No competitor could offer the rich feature set we've become accustomed to from ACR."
Security is also enhanced with the system, as the only access point to the system is the store server, and it's protected by Trend Micro Linux antivirus software.