Case Study

Delivering digital transformation at scale for airport retailer

After a transformational effort to streamline, standardize and upgrade legacy, manned POS systems to self-checkout terminals, this prominent airport retailer saved an estimated $750,000 in IT labor costs and increased store associate productivity 17%—with no disruption to customer traffic.


Founded several decades ago, this multinational retailer operates more than 1,000 locations in airports across the U.S., serves several hundred thousand customers every day and generates nearly $2 billion in annual sales.


Exhausted IT team needed overnight remote technical support to upgrade and test retail POS systems

In 2023, the company embarked on a project to upgrade thousands of manned-checkout registers to self-checkout terminals at more than 1,000 airport retail locations—a strategic initiative to better serve the 90% of American consumers who predominantly shop in brick and mortar stores. As an added complication, the legacy cash registers used multiple versions of the same retail point of sale (POS) price management systems. During the day, the IT team prepped the registers in a given store for the upgrade. Later that night, IT personnel upgraded the systems and conducted validation tests, so the upgraded self-checkout registers would be fully functional the following day without disrupting customers. Just a few months into the upgrade project, the small IT team was exhausted from the round-the-clock work effort and quality suffered.


Standard operating procedures led to digital transformation in airport retail stores

UST provided remote IT experts to manage the overnight upgrade tasks and become a seamless extension to the customer’s IT team. To ensure there were consistent, streamlined procedures between the daytime and nighttime teams, UST documented all procedures and created a data repository. With the new methodical approach, the company’s IT staff shifted from nearly everyone working days and nights to only one person on-call each week. The standard operating procedure work effort segued into a retail POS system standardization initiative—which drastically simplified the company’s IT footprint and ensured all store locations had the latest self-checkout POS terminals.

Now, as the company acquires new stores or decides to upgrade a component of the POS system architecture, such as the credit card pin pads, UST kicks off the project by collaborating with the in-house IT team to outline the standard operating procedures, roles and responsibilities to ensure the project will be complete within the SLA timeframe with no business disruptions. From there, the daytime and nighttime teams get to work with seamless precision to accomplish the project. Because of the systematic project management approach, the retailer has transformed the exhausting, around-the-clock IT work effort into a streamlined, seamless, reliable process to upfit the POS systems in a given store in a 24-hour period—with 100% SLA adherence and no cost overruns.


Increased store associate productivity 17% while customers appreciated self-checkout convenience

What started as a remote technical support engagement morphed into a comprehensive digital transformation and standardization initiative across the company’s retail POS systems and infrastructure. The simplified IT footprint created testing and maintenance efficiencies as more than 1,000 stores were migrated from outdated, manned-checkout registers to the standardized self-checkout software and hardware system, saving the company a tremendous amount of money in equipment, labor and operational costs. Since the IT team no longer had to work days and nights, the team wasn’t working under exhausting conditions, and the company vastly improved customer experiences with reduced wait times at airport retail stores. The company also achieved these impressive results: