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One in a series of previews of the FMI MarkeTechnics Show…

Let's be blunt: What the hell does "Slim Store Architecture" mean?

(We suspect it has nothing to do with Atkins Diet displays, but these days, who knows…)

Actually, "Slim Store Architecture" is just one of the concepts that will be broached at a session scheduled for Tuesday, March 2, at the annual Food Marketing Institute (FMI) MarkeTechnics show, scheduled this year for San Francisco.

Among the speakers at this session will be William L. Homa of Hannaford Bros., who will explore the technological infrastructure necessary for the store of the future. To get a preview of the issues that will be examined in the session we turned to Homa for an exclusive e-interview.


MNB: Okay, what exactly is “slim store architecture” - defined in terms that non-technology people can understand?

Bill Homa: This is really a move away from decentralized servers in the store(we have 5 servers in each store) towards centralization. This is all made feasible by cheap, high-speed networks.

MNB: Are there retailing companies out there that are better prepared for this kind of infrastructure shift than others? What does this mean in terms of a competitive advantage?

Bill Homa: Sure. The prerequisite is a fast, reliable network. Then it requires re-engineering internal systems to use web-based(thin client) technology. This move away from client/server computing that could involve considerable time and expense. Most retailers aren't yet prepared to make that investment in time or money. Those that make the effort can enjoy significant IT savings and a vastly more robust and flexible infrastructure.

MNB: Is moving to “slim store architecture” an imperative? Or is it a matter of choice?

Bill Homa: I believe it's an imperative. The advantages(eg. no more Microsoft license fees) will eventually drive all retailers there in the next 5 to 8 years.

MNB: How does a move such as this affect the consumer experience?

Bill Homa: Indirectly. Just having the architecture doesn't help unless it's used to drive business value. Having better, consistent information at store level can be used to reduce out of stocks, reduce labor, increase sales, reduce inventory, reduce shrink etc. All this helps consumers by reducing costs, improving variety and improving availability, all of which translates into a better consumer experience.

You can find out more about the FMI MarkeTechnics Show at:

http://www.fmi.org
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