Filling the GAP
Atari systems support clothing stores
by Brian Lee
While the ATARI personal computers have not garnered much recognition as a bonafide business tool, there are those of us who still believe that it offers efficient and cost effective solutions in the business environment. The Gap Stores, Inc., national retailer of casual clothing, is one example of an organization using ATARIs for business applications. Their use of microcomputers, including the ATARI 800, has contributed to overall profitability and productivity of the entire company.
When I worked at The Gap as Manager of Budget and Expense Control, I was responsible for the expense control programs of the Store Operations division, encompassing 500 plus stores and related overhead cost centers. Since most of the expense tracking and budgeting was being done manually at the time, I sought to automate the process as much as possible. Since I owned an ATARI 800, I began transporting my computer back and forth to work every day. As the benefits offered by the computer became evident, The Gap boldly implemented a network of ATARIs which now total nearly two dozen systems.
Each work station consists of a 48K ATARI 800, at least one ATARI 810 disk drive, an ATARI 850 interface module, a Hitachi color television, and an Epson MX-100 printer. Three major software packages are provided for each station: The Atari Word Processor, VisiCalc and FileManager+. Each of the nine regional offices received one complete system and the rest were installed at the corporate offices in San Bruno, California.
Weekly sales figures, cash register overages and shortages, and new store opening schedules are all tabulated using VisiCalc. The "what if" features of VisiCalc permit managers to see the effect of varying expense structures, product mixes, and sales promotions on profit margins.
The word processor provides a nice alternative to the typewriter and decreases the time required to edit weekly sales reports and interoffice correspondence.
FileManager 800+ is used by each regional office to maintain personnel files for all management positions as well as tracking of invoices and incidences of theft.
In addition, special application programs were written to aid in the budgeting and monitoring of expenses. One such program permitted the consolidation of several VisiCalc matrices into a summary report.
Another program generated bar graphs, pie charts, line graphs, and scatter plots from the data entered in the VisiCalc matrices. The graphs produced by this program were then used for slide presentations to management. With the sales information in the computer, trends were easily determined using the graphs and special forecasting programs which I wrote. These programs form the basis of a program called Trend Manager due to be released through Synapse Software.
A LOOK TO THE FUTURE
Among the projects planned are a communications link between the regional
offices and headquarters to replace the Qwip machines currently being used.
ATARI 400s will be used with custom designed hardware to monitor and analyze
customer traffic patterns in an effort to match scheduling to customer flow.