By  on November 10, 2004

For anyone who’s ever tried on — and fallen in love with — the stretch jeans, the cropped jacket or printed bag but couldn’t bear to stand in a mile-long, Saturday afternoon line at the checkout, Gap has the answer.

The company, which recently completed point-of-sale upgrades in the U.S., is working to enhance the customer experience at Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores with technology that allows customers to get in and out of the store, find the right size or check the balance on their store card in record time.

“Our goal is to change and enable the customer experience with technology,” said Calvin Hollinger, vice president, information technology at Gap Inc.

“We are not deploying technology for technology’s sake. Everything we do has the customer in mind and we are constantly looking for better ways to improve the customer shopping experience,” he added.

Hollinger lifted the veil on Gap Inc.’s technology plans during the Retail Technology Summit that took place at the Langham Hotel in London last month. It was organized by the National Retail Federation, the Association for Retail Technology Standards and Retail Week.

Hollinger said the company has just finished installing new point-of-sale systems in its 2,500 stores in the U.S. Workers upgraded 25 to 35 stores each night until the project was finished. Citing company policy, he declined to specify the make and model of the new systems.

The new registers will have significant benefits to customers, employees and shareholders, Hollinger said.

For example, shoppers can make purchases with PIN-based debit cards. If a store is out of stock on an item, a sales associate can see which stores still have it, and even print out a receipt for the customer listing the stores and their locations. Stores can also place orders online if they are out of stock, he said. And sales associates can look up transactions without the customer having to show a receipt.

For employees, the system is more intuitive, he said, which reduces the need for training. Each register now has a Web browser, so sales associates will be able to access store e-mail and customer information without leaving the sales floor.

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