Next Stop, First Stop

Tiva, Socket delivering real-time inventory control, pricebook management to chain

WINCHESTER, Ohio-- First Stop Convenience Stores has implemented Tiva Software LLC's Pricebook Connect in conjunction with Socket Communications Inc.'s barcode scanners to improve the speed and accuracy of order processing and information sharing for its retail chain.

With 30 locations throughout Ohio and Kentucky, First Stop is always looking for innovative ways to improve productivity and reduce overhead costs, said Chad Moore, chief information officer at First Stop Stores, Winchester, Ohio.

He added, Our store operators were [image-nocss] spending a lot of time performing manual tasks involved with ordering, receiving, pricing and tracking products, and we needed to streamline processes and improve the flow of information between wholesalers, stores and our corporate office. With this handheld system, we have automated our inventory management process and substantially improved and simplified store inventory data collection. The accurate barcode scanning greatly improves efficiency and has reduced the staff time required for price changes alone by over 20 hours per month in each store.

First Stop implemented Pricebook Connect running on an HP iPAQ mobile device with integrated Socket CF Scanners to streamline ordering, pricing, inventory and back office activities. The wireless system eliminates manual processes and enables real-time access to accurate information, allowing price updates to occur in hours rather than days or not at all. The solution enables store operators to print updated shelf tags immediately as pricing updates are approved. In addition, it provides First Stop with more control over pricing, ensuring that the scanned prices are the correct prices, which the firm said eliminates the possibility of variance or discounting at the register.

Our system, running on a mobile device, performs many of the functions that used to be done on paper or with expensive and cumbersome back room systems, said Rory Wall Jr., president of Tiva Software, Charlotte, N.C. This unified, handheld solution enables First Stop stores, even in very remote locations, to stay connected with secure access to real-time inventory, pricing, order information and shift data. The improved data flow and accuracy of scanned information keeps all locations in sync.

Sales and shift information are downloaded to handheld units for reconciliation and then sent to the Pricebook Connect Web portal for consolidated reporting, editing and integration with accounting systems. This automated system prevents errors associated with manual data entry. The ability to scan physical barcodes directly using store handhelds improves productivity and accuracy in ordering, receiving and managing physical inventory.

The complete solution includes a secure Bluetooth wireless access point, software, a mobile device and a Socket barcode scanner. The cost is generally less than half of a typical backoffice scanning solution, and about one-third of the cost of deployment of ruggedized scanning devices, the firm said.

Tiva Software develops automated ordering, pricebook, sales force automation and internet-based solutions using Pocket PC, Palm OS, Tablet and .NET-based technologies.

Newark, Calif.-based Socket Communications develops and distributes data collection and network connectivity products for mobile devices such as PDAs, Smartphones and tablet notebooks.