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By Linda Lisanti and Tammy Mastroberte
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- From tackling rising credit-card fees to better managing and synchronizing data, NACSTech 2006 got off to a mesmerizing start Monday.
Attendees spent day one in educational workshops on a variety of topics, including the basics of automation, IT project management, PCATS standards and the help desk. Then, thanks to opening general session speaker Anthony Galie and five courageous volunteers, they enjoyed a hypnotic demonstration on the power of the subconscious mind.
"Changing the way you think will change your behavior," said Galie, as he had one man believing that he no longer knew where his mouth was and another that his shoe was missing, when in reality, the man was holding it behind his head the entire time.
Although entertaining, Galie said c-store retailers should take away the serious message that they must concentrate their energy and visualize getting their goals accomplished -- be it a new store design concept or the implementation of new technology.
"You may have goals, but if you can’t see them, they won’t be achieved," Galie told the crowd. "If you see your arm stiff as steel, it will be. If you see your arm stuck to your head, it will be. And if you see yourself moving toward a goal, you will move toward that goal with increased vigor."
In the session, "Are You Ready to Join the World of Data Management?" Jim Wenner, IT director at Sheetz Inc., and Alvin Fortson, director of network system development at The Pantry Inc., both spoke about how their companies are dealing with data and the importance of NAXML standards when it comes to data management.
Sheetz supports 320 stores and today, item information from suppliers is still paper-based, according to Wenner. "Our greatest opportunity is automating our pricebook," he said. "We are working to do a pilot using PCATS standards with Jefferson Distributing and Anheuser-Busch."
The Pantry, with more than 1,300 stores, is already importing electronic invoices using five vendors, including Frito-Lay and Novelty Inc., as well as two dairy vendors and "are pushing more and more vendors to go to the NAXML standard," said Fortson.
Meanwhile, during the "Current and Future Payment Methods" session, executives from QuikTrip Corp. shared their company’s recent efforts to try and pare down exorbitant credit-card fees. As a whole, the convenience store industry spent $5.25 billion in 2005 on card costs, up from $3.80 billion in 2004, according to NACS figures.
Paula Cotten, QuikTrip’s vice president of finance and treasurer, said that over the last year, the chain saw its chargebacks increase by 135 percent, which prompted the company to create an in-house fraud team to develop ways to handle the issue.
Based on her experience, Cotten offered attendees the following suggestions to seek relief from the credit-card companies:
-- Write a letter to Visa and your acquirer requesting that the $50 pump limitation be increased to $75; chargeback days be shortened (now 120 days); stolen cards from the mail no longer be merchant chargebacks; affidavits be put in a standard format; and credit cards reported stolen be turned negative and authorized sales by the issuer after the reported date not be the merchant’s responsibility, as is the case currently.
-- Send the same letter to your financial institution relationships, such as the banks that handle depository, treasury services and debt. Those institutions are great partners in this fight since "they need you to be successful," she pointed out.
-- Create internal software that, among other things, allows you to implement velocities at the pump; stop card checking at the pump; stop one card from activating multiple pumps at the same time; and do card verification value (CVV2) inside for high-risk transactions.