Hot Topic Base Case

By David F. Carr  |  Posted 2003-10-01 Print this article Print

Installing a wide-area communications network let workers and managers easily talk about the latest styles, keeping the hip retailer in a groove.

Company: Hot Topic


The annual sales per square foot for this 500-store retail chain. The average at competing youth-oriented retailers is $367, according to an industry survey by Wachovia Securities.

Business: Retailer of music-influenced apparel for young people, with an emphasis on alternative styles. Torrid, a second brand of stores for young women, bills itself as "The Alternative for Sizes 12-26."

Headquarters: City of Industry, Calif.

Key Business Executive: Gerald Cook, president (formerly chief operating officer)

Key Technology Manager: John Horwath, vice president of technology

Project: Eliminate dial-up credit-card authorization and time-consuming paper-based processes by deploying a wide-area network linking stores to headquarters. Include support for Internet phones and in-store e-mail.

Objectives: Improve customer service, solicit more style and product suggestions from employees, and boost sales with faster store checkout.

Technology Used: Cisco routers, firewall, and IP phones; GERS and Traversity retail operations software; JDA Software's Arthur Allocation for determining store merchandise needs; IBM Regatta server and "Shark" Enterprise Storage Server.

Lessons for Big Companies: Don't just focus on saving money. Improved customer service and better communication between headquarters and store staff will lead to higher sales.

David F. Carr David F. Carr is the Technology Editor for Baseline Magazine, a Ziff Davis publication focused on information technology and its management, with an emphasis on measurable, bottom-line results. He wrote two of Baseline's cover stories focused on the role of technology in disaster recovery, one focused on the response to the tsunami in Indonesia and another on the City of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.David has been the author or co-author of many Baseline Case Dissections on corporate technology successes and failures (such as the role of Kmart's inept supply chain implementation in its decline versus Wal-Mart or the successful use of technology to create new market opportunities for office furniture maker Herman Miller). He has also written about the FAA's halting attempts to modernize air traffic control, and in 2003 he traveled to Sierra Leone and Liberia to report on the role of technology in United Nations peacekeeping.David joined Baseline prior to the launch of the magazine in 2001 and helped define popular elements of the magazine such as Gotcha!, which offers cautionary tales about technology pitfalls and how to avoid them.

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