Symbol Fills CVS Prescription for Wireless Communications

Posted May 13, 2010

CVS Corporation is the United States’ largest retail drug store chain. CVS attained this position through aggressive marketing and growth strategies that included the acquisitions of rival chains, Arbor Drug and Revco. Headquartered in Rhode Island, the CVS organization currently counts over 4,100 stores operating in 28 states. CVS employs over 100,000 people and is still growing.

CVS recognized that sheer size alone would not assure future market leadership. Technology would have a significant role to play in the chain’s growth and helping to maintain its competitive edge. So, the drug store leader turned to Symbol Technologies, the wireless technology leader, to improve worker productivity, inventory management and customer service through the implementation of Symbol-based solutions.

The Challenge: Maximize Store Efficiencies

Intense competition in the drug store industry forces players to rely on low prices, wide selections, fast turnaround and slim margins. As such, the technology solution implemented must maximize store associate productivity and enhance customer satisfaction while serving multiple functions.

Imagine the complexities of coordinating merchandise receiving and inventory logistics for a retail operation selling everything from prescription drugs to greeting cards. On any day, there could be hundreds of trucks moving between thousands of stores across the country. And with every shipment comes the related inventory and putaway tasks, as well as shelf stocking, price checking and item reordering activities.

In the store, harried shoppers buzz in and out, seeking to quickly find their desired items and proceed to checkout. Frustration mounts as price checks and input errors create bottlenecks at the registers.

To maximize worker productivity and avoid customer complaints, CVS turned to Symbol.

The Symbol Solution: Wireless Networks and Hand-Held Computers

To address CVS’ needs of improving everyday store operations including inventory, merchandise receiving, item ordering, price checking and customer service, Symbol designed a custom implementation and deployment of its wireless local area network (LAN) infrastructure.

Store associates would utilize a Symbol hand-held mobile computer with integrated bar code laser scanner and Spectrum24 radio communications capability. With these tools, users quickly transmit and receive data to and from each store’s host computer, providing realtime access to information.

For example, a store worker can check an item’s inventory and ordering history simply by scanning its bar code. A query to the store’s host computer is transmitted over the Spectrum24 network and the computer instantly responds back to the worker with detailed item information and history.

By installing the Symbol Spectrum24 high-performance wireless network, which supports the IEEE 802.11 standard, CVS is now one of the world’s largest retail operations to go wireless. “We invested in a wireless LAN technology that not only gives us benefits today, but is flexible enough with its scaleable design and voice-over-IP capabilities, to move us to the future,” said Vincent Minchillo, vice president MIS, CVS Corporation. “Symbol’s the wireless technology leader. Their vision, long-term commitment to standards and on-going support is what makes them a partner to CVS.”

Filed under: Case Studies