Centralized administration of customer frequency data
Retail business need to have a precise picture of customer frequency,
since this information represents a key criterion for assessing the effectiveness of advertising and for staff planning needs.
The customer frequency data is gathered by a sensing device (such as an optical beam sensor), buffer-stored in a data logger, and downloaded at regular intervals by the associated visualization and database software through an RS232 port. In our case history we are dealing with a chain of retail stores having a country-wide network of franchises: All the various locations were already incorporated into an intranet, and the plan now was to centrally archive and process the customer frequency data at the headquarters location.
See opposite page for a diagram of the solution: A Com-Server was used for hardware linking of the data loggers at each location. The software solution used standard products (such as FTP) since these include the special serial protocol for data security.
Since W&T software would be used here anyway, the decision was made to integrate the network capability into the graphic user interface through software. In addition to the communication option through the local COM port, we have created the option of reading the data directly through TCP/IP and the network. Since the development environment included TCP/IP support, and only an IP address and port number had to be administered as connection parameters, the programming effort for creating the corresponding send/receive routine amounted to just a few hours.
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