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Training pays dividends

Wilkinson, the high street home and garden store, went live with chip and PIN in early June. Two stores, one in the town centre and one at the nearby Weston Favell Shopping Centre, were involved in the Northampton trial. "Serving more than three million customers a week at our 220 stores across the country, we recognise that chip and PIN is the future for card payments in the UK and we wanted to be at the forefront of this new payment revolution," says Eddie Clerck, system development controller at Wilkinson.

The family-owned company became the first retailer in the UK to win bank approval for its chip and PIN integrated point-of-sale system. Across the company's 220 stores, around 35% of sales are paid for by credit or debit cards. In the first few weeks of their trial, the two Northampton Wilkinson stores saw more than 4,000 plastic card transactions.

"We found that both our own team members and customers adapted very well to the new system. Customers have generally been very favourable about chip and PIN because they recognise it is more secure for them, although a few were a littleuncertain at first," says Eddie. "A full in-house training programme was carried outwith team members at the two branches to ensure that the launch was as smooth as possible for shoppers and for our own employees."

Issues arising during the trial included the need for more static terminals than initially thought to sustain service levels and longer transaction times in some environments. Accreditation for the handhelds took longer than anticipated and could be an issue for merchants coming late to the project.

Rollout to the rest of Wilkinson stores will be phased in by summer 2004.