Compaq, Systech target retail industry

Compaq may put the National Enquirer and other cashier line-up publications out of business, according to a company official.

Why? Because according to one of the company’s vice-presidents, Compaq and its new strategic partner are going to erase long lineups from the reality of everyday shopping, eliminating the need for customers to read tabloid magazines.

In a deal the companies estimate will be worth US$100 million over three years, Toronto-based Systech Retail Systems and Compaq Computer Corp. announced this fall that they have signed an agreement to jointly offer technology solutions to the retailing industry, including point-of-sale systems.

“The retail technology industry is a strong, growing sector in which Compaq is already active by providing back-office infrastructure for North America retailers like Shoppers Drug Mart,” said Michael Winkler, vice-president of global business units for Compaq. “The result (of the deal) will be to deliver a range of new products and services for the retail sector while protecting existing investments in technology.”

This deal is based on Compaq’s ProLiant server platforms and iPAM and Evo access devices.

“This will be a chance to combine wireless, Internet and database capabilities with existing point-of-sale systems and offer retailers a seamless transition to open platforms,” said Systech CEO William Moore. “No more check-out queues. I don’t know what the National Enquirer will do.”

Systech will become a Compaq authorized reseller and service provider, while continuing to work with other technology providers. Compaq will acquire approximately a 30 per cent interest in Systech by investing US$20 million.

Tony Olvet, a senior consultant at Toronto-based IDC Canada, said Systech’s strong customer list in this country, with ties to Canadian Tire, A&P, The Bay, Chapters and others, will help Compaq make inroads here.

David Booth, president and managing director of Compaq Canada, said the alliance will allow Compaq and Systech to redefine the point-of-sale from being a fixed location in a store check-out to anywhere the customer is in the store. Many major retailers still use technology that is a decade or more old, he added.

“For consumers, we will have the potential to change their entire shopping experience, dramatically and for the better,” he said. “Systech understands how to serve retailers’ needs with the customer interface at the point of sale. Compaq understands how to build high availability platforms.”

This, he said, will liberate store designers to look at new ways for people to shop.

Systech can be reached at