Canadian Tire CIO Spends $40 Million for POS Sweep

The $8.4 billion conglomerate saw replacing the 15-year-old payment system as essential, CIO Andrew Wnek explains. (

Typically, a CIO arguing for a $30 to $40 million IT investment for new payment systems has to answer a lot of questions from a skeptical CEO, chief financial officer and board members. But that wasnt the recent experience of Canadian Tire Corp. CIO Andrew Wnek.

Wnek reports to the CEO and runs IT for the $8.4 billion Canadian megabrand, which includes stores that sell tires and related auto parts, a chain of gas stations, car washes, emergency roadside service, clothing stores and a division that creates credit cards as well as sells insurance and warranties.

An executive who is used to having to create elaborate business case assessments for various technology programs, Wnek said replacing the network of 12- to 15-year-old NCR ECR (electronic cash registers) with Fujitsu POS units "wasnt a hard sell."

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"The argument was simple: You keep NCR registers in place running on DOS and youre going to have stores crashing and you wont be able to get people through the stores," Wnek said. "The first driver was that we were running out of life cycles."

The new machines wouldnt merely address various customer-complaint-producing shortcomings of the older ECR units, he argued.

They would allow the company to consider a wide range of 21st-century retail options, including CRM, loyalty programs, self-checkout and contactless payment.

With the older ECRs, "the scanning was slow, it was a little cumbersome and [the customer-facing green screen] was difficult to read," Wnek said.

"Its a 15-year-old solution that is running out of steam very quickly. Its the customer experience, thats the key thing were looking for. Intuitively, we know that there will be productivity gains."

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