Store Twitter: What are you doing?
By David Dorf on Oct 08, 2008
An elderly woman at lane three needs help carrying bags to her car. Who is available to help? As a store manager, it would be nice to know who's on the clock and what they're doing. Having an up-to-the-minute understanding of store operations would help enable quick decisions and, in the end, better customer service.
The R&D team at Oracle Retail created a proof-of-concept demo called Store Twitter. It's based on Twitter, one of the more popular micro-blogging applications available on the Web. Never heard of Twitter? This description is from their homepage:
Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?
So how might this concept apply to retail? Store Managers often want to know what their employees are doing, so having ready access to their whereabouts and tasks underway can be valuable in ensuring smooth operations. Clearly it would be wasteful to ask employees to constantly post Twitter messages, so the applications should be able to do this on their behalf. Instrumenting the applications with events, if you like the techo-lingo.
Which brings us back to Store Twitter. The Stores team added a few example event messages to POS, and the Technology team built a server to receive the messages and post them on a manager's UI. So with a quick look at the Store Twitter page, a manager knows what his front-lane employees are doing. These messages can then be extended to other applications like Store Inventory Management, Time & Attendance, and Task Management for comprehensive coverage.
Let's see... John, Mary, and Sam are cashiers on the front-lanes. Larry is stocking shelves, Janice is doing a cycle count, and Bob is just coming off break. "Bob to lane three please."
The team gets bonus points for using the ARTS NEAR XML standard, a specification for short, asynchronous (no reply necessary) messages. This provides the potential for non-Oracle products to post messages as well. Gotta stay open!