Kmart Corporation (NYSE: KM) today reported that new technologies being rolled out to its stores, chain-wide, are already providing state-of-the art service to its customers. Installation of self-service checkouts, pre-scanning of shopper's carts, quick-response restocking measures and its pharmacy interactive voice response system continue to provide positive customer response.
"At Kmart, the customer is our top priority at all times. Enhancing customer service is critical to increasing our market-share. Keeping checkout lines down to three customers or less, speeding up the checkout process and ensuring that we have the products and services our customers want, drives the technology side of our business at Kmart," said Randy Allen, Kmart Executive Vice President Chief Planning and Information Officer.
"Every system or application we design provides a unique insight into our business and improves the way we make decisions," added Allen. "Each piece is an integral part of being a culture that centers around our customers."
The installation of NCR Self-Service Checkout units is being rolled out to about 600 Kmart stores, with 300 units already in place.
Said Kmart Store Manager, Nick Nordstrand, of Rochester Hills, Michigan, "The self-service checkouts are great for quick purchases and customers can see the prices as they scan their merchandise. Payment is quick as they accept cash, ATM cards and credit cards."
Customers are making the transition and "loving it" according to recent store reports. At some stores, almost 40 percent of their total sales have been processed through the self-service checkout.
At all Kmart store cashier-operated checkouts, customers now have the option to have their shopping baskets pre-scanned and bagged. The "BlueLightning" pre-scan function is now available through Symbol Technologies wireless hand-held mobile units, providing stores with a checkout process that is extremely fast and efficient.
During busy periods at the checkouts, a call goes out for store associates with handheld scanners to assist customers who are waiting in line. If the customer accepts the BlueLightning service option, their merchandise is pre- scanned and bagged, they receive a BlueLightning Card which the cashier simply scans and processes for payment.
"If a customer has more than a few items, we offer to pre-scan their cart with our BlueLightning service. It's really handy in our garden shops, or if a customer has a large purchase elsewhere in the store. A store associate can assist them in getting the merchandise to their vehicle without having to take it through the checkout, and all they need to do is provide their BlueLightning card to the cashier," Nordstrand said.
Kmart customers rule. That is why Kmart measures its in-stock position as the customer sees it -- on the shelf. Using the same Symbol Technologies scanning units that provide the BlueLightning service, Kmart has deployed a "Blue Dot" program. When an item is missing from the shelf, a store associate will scan the shelf label and the scanner will indicate whether the product is in the backroom or on order. If there is a data integrity issue, the store associate can correct it or order the product directly through the scanner. At the end of the day, a list is printed and the shelves are restocked with new inventory.
In addition to restocking product daily, basic replenishment reports are available to each store for each department and category. This in-stock reporting helps the stores and their associate teams spot any trouble areas and take action or work with the Kmart merchandise team to improve the flow of goods.
Interactive Voice Response System
Kmart understands the power of information. In June, Kmart will complete the rollout of the Ateb (IVR) interactive voice response system that works with both telephones and PDX pharmacy systems, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to all 1,589 Kmart pharmacies. Customers and doctors can now call outside of normal business hours, renew prescriptions and leave messages for the pharmacist, reducing waiting time.
At the Kmart pharmacy counter, the IVR Pharmacy Line speeds up the efficiency of processing hundreds of prescriptions daily leaving Kmart pharmacists and team members more time for face-to-face interaction with customers.
While the Pharmacy Line automatically answers calls, provides hours of operation and takes voice mail messages, it also will transfer calls to the pharmacist during regular business hours, if the customer or doctor does not wish to take advantage of the system's services. In addition, the system offers a Spanish-speaking menu option in many Kmart stores.
Apart from placing prescription orders via IVR, pharmacy customers can also place refill orders online at Bluelight.com . Their Rx information is entered online and their prescription is filled at the store, ready for pick-up when they arrive.
BlueLight.com Photo Zone
Kmart customers rule through the Internet at BlueLight.com with the launch of the Kodak Picture Center Online in BlueLight.com's Photo Zone (http://www.bluelight.com/ ). Kmart customers who want to view their pictures online can now have their film digitized and uploaded directly to the Kodak Picture Center in BlueLight.com's Photo Zone by simply checking a box on their photofinishing envelope.
When picking up traditional prints, customers will also receive a confidential ID code to access their pictures online. Once online, Kmart customers can then view, enhance, share and print their pictures. In addition, customers may upload files from digital cameras and personal computers for free.
Kmart Customers Rule With Technology
"Providing shoppers with self-service options, whether its using self- checkout registers, pre-scanning an order, calling in prescriptions via the telephone, or digitizing their photos online, are just some of the ways Kmart is meeting our customers' needs," said Allen. "Technology enables every department company-wide to be linked to and better satisfy and serve our customers."
Kmart Corporation is a near-$40 billion company that serves America with more than 2,100 Kmart and Kmart supercenter retail outlets. Kmart donates $35 million each year to support its hometowns and local non-profit organizations. Kmart associates also provide their most valuable resource -- time -- everyday in their local communities. In addition to serving all 50 states, Kmart operations extend to the Caribbean Islands and Asia Pacific. More information about Kmart is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.bluelight.com/ under the "About Kmart" section.
SOURCE: Kmart Corporation
Contact: Susan Dennis of Kmart Media Relations, 248-463-1021