September 20, 2004, 12:00 AM

Pacific Sunwear turns to the web to speed up credit card authorizations

As sales volumes sharply increase at many of its stores, Pacific Sunwear is turning to the web to speed credit card authorizations and shorten lines. By this year’s holiday shopping season, it will also use the web to monitor store POS transaction data.

At trendy apparel retailer Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., it’s not uncommon to see long lines of teens and their credit-card-wielding parents waiting to purchase the latest in casual fashions. The chain has grown consistently over the last few years, nearly doubling its number of stores to close to 1,000.

But success is also bringing the challenge of improving customer service. So in an effort to cut those lines leading to the checkout counter, Pacific Sunwear is implementing a strategy that’s becoming increasingly common among retailers: turning to a web-based point-of-sale system, which the retailer says will slash the average time a customer has to wait for a credit card transaction to three seconds from up to 40. "That can make a big difference in our checkout lines," says Ron Ehlers, vice president of information services.

By processing web-based credit card authorizations in its highest volume stores, he adds, Pacific Sunwear will take the first step toward using a web-based POS system to take its stores to a faster, more efficient mode of operation.

"We’re doing a pilot in 60 of our highest volume stores to drive central web-based credit card authorizations to see how many transactions we can drive in any given day in those stores," Ehlers says.

In time for this year’s holiday shopping season, Pacific Sunwear, No. 218 in Internet Retailer’sTop 300 Guide to online retailers, will be able to monitor daily POS activity in each of its 60 pilot stores, and compare those figures to year-ago figures already recorded, to judge the impact of merchandising and marketing efforts on year-to-year changes in sales.



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