August First Friday – Snows goes mobile

Snows Home and Garden is about as old school a family business as you can get – which is why Sid Snow was the speaker at our First Friday Breakfast in August.

The business was started 127 years ago by Sid’s great, great grandfather (whose home was the Orleans Inn). When Sid came home in 1981, after spending five years with the Jordan Marsh Company in Maine and Boston, he knew the kinds of things Snows needed, system-wise, to run efficiently. Since then, Snows has continued to grow, and make good use of new technology.

Snows has always embraced technology, and in the late ’70s had a computerized point-of-sale system (Basic Four). Their latest addition is the implementation of a mobile point of sale system, which has resulted in better customer service (among many other things).

Sharise Nunnally, Snow’s Information Technology Manager, came to Snows after working for corporate America for most of her career. At Snows she feels she’s making a difference in people’s lives. When she makes a change, she sees an effect.

The latest change has been implementing mobile point of sale with tablets. Snows is a beta site for Epicor, which provided a POS cloud application, chose the products for compatibility and are PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant to guard against identity theft.

Sharise says using the beta system means they have to endure bugs and keep a sense of humor about it, and in return they get discounted service.

They’re happy with the effects the mobile POS has had on customer service. Staff can stay with a customer instead of leaving to look up requested information. They can also multi-task, acting as a cashier and a salesperson. Customers can choose email or print receipts from a cashier with a mobile system.

The increased coverage has resulted in less theft, since cashiers are right there on the floor. Items are purchased on the spot, not sent with the customer to a cashier. It also reduces customer wait time in line.

Success stories
A customer associate dedicated to the jewelry department has increased sales and decreased shoplifting. Since the jewelry department is near the main entrance, the associate is able to help customers waiting in line at the registers. While they’re checking out in the jewelry department, they often make an impulse buy.

One of their employees who seemed technically challenged was great on the iPad because she’s used to her iPhone, not a PC. “We push for technology, but we can’t push the staff too hard,” Sid said. “If there’s an employee who loves it and can help the others understand and use it, it’s easier on everyone.”

They advertised on Craigslist to reach younger employees, but they do not age discriminate. They’ve found some of their senior employees are embracing the new technology.

Wireless network (Cloudtrax) supports the POS network and public wifi. Six nodes manage both public and POS network. Software is downloaded as an app from iTunes.

Other technology at Snows

  • They use eCONNECT, which sends updates to all 65 PCs at night, shuts them all down and reboots with updates. They don’t have to take a CD to all 65 PCs anymore.
  • Epicor payment exchange also was a beta and it saves them in credit card fees
  • provides web hosting service for online store.
  • Compass (a separate reporting tool) allows them to combine reports, and automatically sends emails with scheduled reports. They also can pull reports real time. In their old system, they couldn’t combine reports from different DOS flat files – inventory, point of sale, accounts payable, accounts receivable were all accessed separately.
  • They have over 100 network devices, and five servers.
  • They also offer home monitoring, and can measure how much oil is in the tank, so customers never run out.
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