Canal Walk IT and E-commerce

Posted On Saturday, 01 January 2000 03:01 Published by
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THE Canal Walk shopping centre in the R1.6 billion Century City development in Cape Town - currently being developed by JSE-listed Mone

THE Canal Walk shopping centre in the R1.6 billion Century City development in Cape Town - currently being developed by JSE-listed Monex - is set to become the world's largest 'intelligent shopping centre' following the collaboration of a number of leading hardware and software companies, including iCiti, 3Com, Computer Associates, PC-POS, and Integrity Software SA.
The centre's more than 400 anticipated tenants are to be offered a centralised state-of-the-art computer system that will offer them a bouquet of features, including e-commerce, electronic funds transfer (EFT), centralised procurement, and a specially-designed POS system. Running off a Windows NT-based Wide Area Network, the computer system is described as the ultimate "IT solution for mega shopping malls".
With an estimated 390 tenants already signed up by Monex, the Canal Walk Shopping centre is Africa's biggest - it is 3.2km long and boasts 120 000 square metres of shopping mall.
The brainchild behind the intelligent shopping centre concept, start-up service provider iCiti - the mandated technology supplier for Century City - is in the process of installing the new-age IT infrastructure, including a R12 million wide area network, to provide the tenants with the centralised e-commerce enabled computer system.
While iCiti is the mastermind behind the overall IT infrastructure, the network equipment was supplied and installed by 3Com. Computer Associates supplied the management software, PC-PoS - the retail supplier in the JSE-listed MB Technologies stable - is supplying its DigiPos POS hardware, touch screen terminals and Epson printers, with its reseller, Integrity, supplying specialised retail and POS software to the centre's tenants.
So far an estimated 100 tenants have opted for the customised IT system, with more expected to sign up once The system "gets rolling".
This is according to Arie Radowsky, product manager at iCiti. Radowsky said the packaged solution being offered to tenants - which includes access to the centralised management system and the provision of DigiPos hardware, Epson printers, specialist retail and POS software from Integrity - is being offered to tenants at extremely reasonable rates. "Due to the fact that we are able to leverage economies of scale,we were able to put together an integrated but multi-facetted package that will give each tenant a large basket of essential services to enable them to tap into some significant resources - as well as giving them fingertip control over their businesses. This is the first time this approach has been attempted on such a large scale."
Radowsky said the overall computer system at the Canal Walk shopping centre in Cape Town is ultimately designed to "maximise benefits for the tenants". For starters, the shopping centre will offer a loyalty card scheme to customers, called INCENTA. Shoppers will be able to use these cards to earn and redeem points at any participating shop within the centre. All loyalty points - and details on each and every loyalty card - will be stored in the system's central database. As points are redeemed - no matter at which shop - the central system is automatically updated.
Tenants also get access to free e-mail connections and are able to make use of the centre-wide procurement system, which will enable them to source and order stock at lower prices due to the benefits of centralised, bulk buying. All EFT purchases will be handled by a central switch This will facilitate faster processing times,vastly increased security, and lower transaction costs for the shopkeeper.
News bulletins will be e-mailed from the central computer system to each and every connected tenant - and tenants will be able to advertise special promotions by alerting the central system. Special offers, for instance, can be broadcasted on electronic bulletin boards situated throughout the central entertainment mall.
The system will also be e-commerce enabled, allowing tenants - and management - to develop full supply chain management systems with third parties, including suppliers. Part of this service will include door-to-door delivery within 24 hours.
On-line shopping and door-to-door delivery
Plans are also in the pipeline to allow shoppers to purchase on-line at Canal Walk shopping centre. Part of this service will include door-to-door delivery, via a courier service, within 24 hours.
Radowsky said tenants would also be able to make use of centralised data warehouse, where a vast array of strategic information will be kept, and developed, on customers. "Tenants will be able to send out targeted mail shots, either via post, or to potential customers via e-mail as we will be building up, on an ongoing basis, detailed shopping profiles on the shopping mall's customers. There is really a vast basket of features on offer. We hope all 450 tenants ultimately buy into our solution."
Tony Nixon, PC-PoS's Cape Town branch manager, said his company had already supplied approximately 100 of its DigiPos PC-based POS terminals. "This could be one of our biggest ongoing contracts landed to date in this country. It is also arguably the most exciting and ground-breaking. This concept has never been tried before on such a grand scale."
To date PC-PoS has sold more than R1 million worth of equipment.
Multi vendor collaboration
Nixon said the company is installing its DigiPos terminals and Epson printers - for whom it is the local distributor - together with the specialist POS software from Integrity, one of the company's resellers. "The collaboration on this project has been incredible." Steve Mallaby from Integrity Software SA, said that although only 60 tenants had thus far installed his company's specialised retail and POS system, he anticipates another 50 "coming on board" within the next six months. "This is a medium to long-term project. We still have to get the buy-in from the tenants; but we don't believe any other single POS vendor has been as successful - in terms of the number of installations - at any one shopping centre before."
He said one of the highlights for Integrity was when all 60 of the company's sites went live on one day.

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