Asda aims to have all its stores running Wal-Mart's SMART system by the end of October, after using it successfully in 20 shops. At the heart of the system are Telxon radio frequency hand-held scanners and tiny shelf edge label printers which availability team staff carry around. Bar codes around the store are scanned every morning which produces an update of products on shelf and in the storeroom. Too many products and the system will automatically hold back on ordering, not enough, and more products will be ordered. Price changes can be done on the shop floor with the small printer. SMART links each store in the portfolio and also with head office and the Wal-Mart HQ in Bentonville. Each store gets a weekly sales history, the system works out exactly how much product space is needed and staff can adjust facings accordingly. Customers wanting out of stock items can get information through the scanners on which other local stores carry them. Breakthrough manager Martin Sayer says the SMART system is the backbone of the Retail Link initiative which allows store managers to become salesmen rather than overseeing product ordering. He says it lets Asda redefine its business and allows it to be consistent. "It lets us understand our customers better through Retail Link and lets us manage seasonality." It also means less admin in store as head office can send around emails each morning telling store managers which items need particular attention. Tills at the 20 stores also have another scanner which shoppers can use to scan heavy items without having to take them out of their baskets. A Queue Busting system (trialled at Christmas) involves staff giving shoppers in long checkout queues a card to scan their baskets - when the shopper gets to the till they only need to hand the card over for payment which speeds up the process. Managers can also find out how fast checkout operators are scanning products ­ the target is 23 items a minute. {{FEATURES }}