Phones 4U has embarked on a major store systems project that will see it replace virtually all its legacy store applications by the middle of 2010.

The new Oracle Retail systems are being introduced to help lower inventory levels, increase up-sell opportunities and improve the tracking of offers in stores. In the longer run the retailer will be able to launch multichannel services.

From October onwards, stores will start to see the delivery of new systems. Warehouse management and store inventory management systems will begin implementation before the end of this year and the project will also include the adoption of a Oracle Retail point-of-service system, and central office and back office applications.

Phones 4U IT strategy and architecture director Steve Johnson told Retail Week the systems will initially look and feel similar to those they are replacing to limit the impact on the business. He said: “It is not an insignificant investment, but the goal is to deliver the technology with as minimal change at the front end as possible.”

He added that additional functionality will be rolled out quickly, to help serve customers better. In particular, the store inventory system will quickly allow Phones 4U to determine the right stock levels, in the right stores at the right time.

The new systems also give the retailer the ability to provide multichannel service, such as buying online for store collection.

Johnson said the retailer expects a rapid return on investment, derived from a reduction in operational costs, with the business benefit that will come almost seen as a bonus.

The project has senior level sponsorship within the business. Johnson said business engagement is high and much work will be done to ensure user adoption and training is handled effectively.