Douglas Gives POS System a Makeover to Deliver World-Class Customer Service
Europe’s most successful retailer of cosmetics and fragrances, Douglas, maintains a tight focus on delivering exceptional counter and sales service that exceeds customer expectations. The company is at the leading edge of using technology to
make its customer services more personalized, secure, speedy, reliable, and desirable. Douglas, a long time Microsoft Windows customer, works closely with Wincor Nixdorf a leading provider of IT solutions and services to retailers and banks, to develop retail
POS systems that meet its evolving business and technical requirements. Most recently, Douglas began to migrate its cash registers from Window Embedded for Point of Service to the next generation of the operating system. Douglas found compelling reasons to
migrate to Windows Embedded POSReady, including: stronger security and remote management; standards-based plug and play support for peripherals; the flexibility to deploy flash-bootable devices for greater reliability; and the ability to add and remove components
after deployment to enable new applications and business processes that enhance customer services.
Douglas, the largest cosmetics and fragrance retailer in Europe, is familiar with the sweet smell of success. A name synonymous with quality, customer service, and the latest beauty products and advice, Douglas operates more than 1,200 perfumeries in 23
countries, including over 900 across Europe and 14 in the United States. The stores sell a broad range of high-end brand name perfumes and cosmetics, including Clinique, Chanel, Dior, Estée Lauder, Giorgio Armani, and Lancôme.
Since its inception over 35 years ago, Douglas has focused on appealing to the customer’s “heart and mind” by delivering an exceptionally high level of face-to-face customer relationship management at the point of purchase. The company trains its salespeople
to be experts in every line so they can help customers find exactly what they need. They offer friendly, unbiased, and knowledgeable advice. Makeovers are complimentary, testing and sampling is offered and encouraged, and purchases are made in a comfortable,
no-pressure shopping environment.
||Windows Embedded provides us with an extensible software platform for meeting present and future business needs.
| Alexander Rack
Head of Department, IT Infrastructure
Other convenient and reliable services, such as rewards programs designed to drive customer loyalty, enhance this one-to-one personalized shopping experience. In some countries as customers purchase products, they earn points that can be redeemed for additional
merchandise or a percentage off their next purchase, depending on the country. The selling and processing of gift cards is another customer service that drives an increasingly large percentage of store sales.
Douglas delivers these customer services through store point-of-sale (POS) systems running the Windows Embedded for Point of Service operating system (OS). The OS is based on the powerful technology of Windows and pre-configured for point of service to support
a broad range of retail applications, device peripherals, and service scenarios. Windows Embedded for Point of Service is a bootable operating system, which makes it easy to configure and install, enabling faster development and delivery of applications and
devices with a smaller footprint.
“We migrated from DOS to Windows Embedded for Point of Service several years ago, and that single technology decision still helps drive customer perceptions of service excellence to this day,” says Alexander Rack, head of department, IT Infrastructure, Douglas.
“DOS had stability issues and the development of new enhancements was not easy or even possible in some cases. By contrast, Windows Embedded for Point of Service is extremely reliable and stable, giving us lots of confidence in our systems at all times of
the year. Most importantly, we now can provide all the processes, such as online connections, that we need to satisfy the customer.”
Now Douglas’ business and technical requirements are evolving again. To enable new applications and business processes that support new customer services, the company’s IT departments needs the flexibility to add and remove software components, such as an FTP
Server, to sales devices already deployed in the field. To strengthen security and protection of corporate and customer data, Douglas also wants to bring these devices up to the same software patch level as its other in-store systems.
“Another one of our long-term goals is to increase reliability of our POS hardware systems by eliminating as many moving parts as possible,” adds Rack. “We are evaluating whether to move completely away from DVD and hard drives. This means we need an operating
system that can boot from a solid-state drive based on flash memory.”
Douglas has partnered for several years with Wincor Nixdorf, a Windows Embedded community partner with specific expertise in Windows Embedded for Point of Service. Douglas’ in-house IT knowledge of the Microsoft Windows ecosystem complements the Wincor Nixdorf
When Thomas Heinrich, Wincor Nixdorf product manager for Windows Embedded, learned of the retailer’s evolving technical requirements, he immediately informed Alexander Rack that Microsoft was about to introduce Windows Embedded POSReady 2009, the next version
of Windows solutions for point of service.
“POSReady 2009 was exactly the solution Douglas needed because it would allow them to harden security on the devices, add components for new applications that support rich customer service experiences, and eventually move to new diskless hardware platforms,”
||POSReady was exactly the solution Douglas needed because it would allow them to harden security on the devices, add components for new applications that support rich customer service experiences, and eventually move to new diskless
| Thomas Heinrich
Product Manager for Windows Embedded
Wincor Nixdorf currently provides Douglas with the Beetle MII Motherboard E-Series, a retail-hardened hardware platform with a pre-loaded version of the Windows Embedded for Point of Service OS. The hardware platform features a proprietary USB connector technology,
allowing up to 15 peripherals to be connected to and powered by the system. To make system installation even faster and easier, Wincor Nixdorf includes a DVD containing complete device driver software for all anticipated peripherals.
In mid-2008, Douglas decided to migrate to Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 and joined Microsoft’s Technical Adoption Program (TAP) at the recommendation of Wincor Nixdorf. “It was wonderful to have direct contact with Microsoft technical support, product development,
and business representatives, and it helped us move the pilot project along very quickly,” states Rack.
Within a few weeks, Wincor Nixdorf had successfully tested Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 on the Beetle MII hardware platform. Shortly afterwards, Douglas
IT reimaged the OS and installed store specific applications on the POS systems.
POSReady technology, the Wincor Nixdorf POS system delivers significant benefits to Douglas, its staff, and customers. Business benefits include the ability to continue delivering on exceptional customer service, confidence in the long-term Windows Embedded
solution, and the flexibility to purchase more reliable diskless systems. Technical benefits include new security hardening features, connectivity built around .NET applications, and the ability to plug and play and hot swap peripherals with POS for .NET.
The Windows Embedded POSReady cash register supports a corporate focus on delivering exceptional customer service with state-of-the-art information technology. These benefits to the customer help drive their loyalty and further anchor the brand.
With POSReady, Douglas IT staffers can add and remove OS components post-deployment to enable new features and applications that provide more information to help beauty advisors.
“With the information we have about a customer, such as past purchasing habits and membership in loyalty reward programs, we can service them better and achieve higher profitability at the same time,” says Rack. “For example, if a beauty advisor sees on the
POS system that a customer is only a few points away from the next reward level, they can use that information to encourage the customer to make an additional purchase.”
Douglas also finds that the POS system interface helps salespeople deliver better service to customers. Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 supports a convenient touch-screen keyboard user interface, which makes it easier to train new personnel, and enables beauty
advisors to see customer information more easily and faster at the moment of service.
Douglas is a global operation, with stores in 23 countries around the world. Windows Embedded POSReady2009 features a streamlined multi-language support process, allowing Douglas beauty advisors to serve more customers in their native language.
Today’s retail environment requires that POS systems connect to the corporate Intranet, as well as back-office systems. For example, redeeming a gift card purchased on the Intranet requires reliable and fast coordination between the central Douglas online-systems,
back-office Microsoft Server systems, and a store-based POS device.
“Nearly everything we do in the store requires connectivity to the outside world, whether it’s registering a customer for a rewards program or checking our inventory system,” comments Rack. “The powerful built-in networking support for all kinds of devices,
PCs, servers, and web services is one of the biggest advantages of using Windows Embedded.”
Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 supports the .NET Framework for building robust web-enabled applications and services. “We have essentially created a cloud network that seamlessly connects to everything in our infrastructure using web services,” states Rack.
Windows Embedded POSReady builds on and extends the confidence Douglas already has in Windows Embedded for Point of Service. Now, POS devices will benefit from the security updates available through security and management technologies offered in Windows. Additionally,
Windows Embedded POSReady can be remotely deployed from Windows Server and managed using familiar tools such as Windows Update, System Center Configuration Manager, and System Center Operations Manager.
“With POSReady, our POS devices can achieve patch update parity with our desktop systems, which strengthens our overall security infrastructure,” explains Rack.
||The powerful built-in networking support for all kinds of devices, PCs, servers, and web services is one of the biggest advantages of using Windows Embedded.
| Alexander Rack
Head of Department, IT Infrastructure
The 10-year Windows Embedded product lifecycle, which gives Douglas assurance of OS support until 2019, further enhances confidence in the Wincor Nixdorf POS system.
“It is very important for retailers to know that their POS devices, which represent a significant investment, will be supported for the next dozen years,” says Thomas Heinrich, Wincor Nixdorf. “Microsoft’s product support commitment is a major motivation for
many of our customers to migrate POS systems to Windows Embedded from other operating systems like proprietary RTOS, Linux, NT, or DOS.”
The Windows Embedded solutions for point of service make it easy for Wincor Nixdorf to develop a POS device that fits Douglas’ particular business needs. Because Windows Embedded is componentized, Douglas IT managers can uniquely customize an operating system
image to align with its computing environment and sales approach. Support for EPSON OPOS and Microsoft POS for .NET 1.12 standards means plug and play connections and hot swaps of retail peripherals. As a result, Douglas can easily integrate additional hardware
devices to support new business processes.
“Windows Embedded provides us with an extensible software platform for meeting present and future business needs,” concludes Rack. “We anticipate deploying POS systems with USB flash drives over the next few years based on our confidence that POSReady will
support flash and other popular data storage technologies. With fewer moving hardware parts, we hope to achieve high levels of reliability and longer system lifecycles.”
For More Information
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For more information about Douglas products and services, visit the Web site at:
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Document published January 2009