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WLANA: Enterprise Application--Honeybaked Ham

Honeybaked Ham Company: Wireless LAN Connects Point-of-Sale Data to Headquarters

A retail chain that sells baked ham and other prepared foods, the Honeybaked Ham Company of Georgia has 94 retail stores across the country and opens about six new stores each year. In the early 1990s, like many other retailers, Honeybaked found itself overwhelmed with paperwork and eager to automate its record keeping. It solved the problem with wireless point-of-sale computers.

Application: Automatic Retail Record Keeping
Until a few years ago, each Honeybaked store used conventional cash registers. Store managers prepared paper reports of sales, expenses, and other information manually and mailed them to Honeybaked headquarters in Atlanta.

However, the reports took time to prepare and weren't always accurate, and company headquarters received so many of them that they could hardly keep up. Translating the reports into information that top management could use was also labor intensive and time consuming, and things got worse each year as more stores were opened.

By 1993, Honeybaked decided to replace the cash registers with wireless point-of-sale computers. "Our goal was to create a standard computer system that could be used in all our existing stores and that could be easily installed in new stores as they opened," says Stan Vick, director of information systems at Honeybaked. The point-of-sale computers sit on carts, which normally are placed inside cutouts in the counters but can easily be pushed to other locations. The computers are networked to a local server that tracks store operations and generates reports, and an ISDN line connects all the local servers to a master server at company headquarters. Store reports are automatically uploaded to headquarters periodically under the direction of a robust network scheduling program, and plans are in the works to incorporate inventory control into the system.

Benefits: The Most Flexible Solution at the Lowest Cost, plus Better Business Information
"During holiday seasons, when our business peaks, most of our stores move the point-of-sale terminals from the counters to a location near the store's exit door," says Vick. "Some even build a simple enclosure and move the terminals just outside the door." And not only does the wireless system provide Honeybaked with an ideally flexible solution, it costs less to install than wired networks.

The wireless system has slashed paperwork costs throughout the company, too. At the same time, it has revolutionized the reporting process: Top managers now get accurate, timely reports in a form that helps them make better business decisions.

Installation Size
A typical Honeybaked store is equipped with about five computers, depending on the store's size and sales volume. Two computers serve as point-of-sale terminals. The store manager uses the third computer as a workstation, and a fourth acts as the store's local server. Employees use a fifth computer in the back of the store as a secondary point-of-sale terminal, primarily to handle large telephone orders from corporate customers.

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