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    PCATS Winter Meetings Report Progress

    Members reveal top tech priorities, successful implementations and new beginnings.

    By Tammy Mastroberte

    During the General Assembly, gathered at 8 a.m. on the third day of PCATS' (Petroleum Convenience Alliance for Technology Standards) Winter Meetings, held at The Florida Hotel and Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Lisa Stewart of Impact 21 Group asked retailers to write down one or two top priorities for their companies in 2008, and for suppliers to report what they are hearing from their retail clients.

    Topping the list was EPS (electronic payment systems), loyalty, PCI compliance and EB2B (electronic business to business).

    PCATS members noted the importance of advancing the EPS standard for payments and loyalty, as well as monitoring it to support alternative forms of payment, such as ACH (Automated Clearing House). The ongoing industry issue of PCI compliance is also top of mind for retailers, although some such as Sunoco, have been compliant for a couple years.

    And when it comes to EB2B, retailers want to work with vendors to receive invoices electronically as well as pricebook information. Some retailers, including Valero, Flash Foods, Rutter's Farm Stores, The Pantry and Susser Petroleum are already working with EB2B and vendors.

    Last year, PCATS set a goal to achieve 2 million EB2B transactions in one year using the NAXML standard, and the alliance has surpassed its goal, with some retailers doing that amount on their own, according to James Maxey, director of development and maintenance at Valero Retail Holdings Inc., and chairman of the Implementation Committee for PCATS.

    Rutter's Farm Stores is currently interfacing electronically with 20 vendors, some using the NAXML standard, and Susser's Stripes stores also used EB2B with 55 vendors -- a number of which utilize the NAXML standard, with the exception of a few smaller companies.

    Rutter's is also using the NAXML POS/Back Office standard throughout its chain of 50 stores, reported Bob Sleeper, director of technology for the chain, who also said the company is looking forward to test the auto safe and gas price sign standards as well.

    Additionally, all of Kroger's convenience store divisions, including Turkey Hill Minit Markets, successfully implemented the POS/Back Office standard with Radiant Systems and PDI at its approximately 800 stores.

    During the Retail Business Requirements Committee meeting, which is a group of retailers and suppliers who represent the requirements of retailers in order to create a particular standard, members discussed the importance of a lottery standard in partnership with the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL). While a standard has been developed and is being tested by a number of retailers in states including Texas and Louisiana, PCATS would like more states to come on board.

    John Hervey, executive director of PCATS proposed the idea of drafting a letter to individual state lotteries to explain the importance of a standard and urging them to get involved. The letter will be provided by PCATS and sent to retailers to forward to their individual state lottery associations.

    "C-stores make up 50 percent of lottery sales so we have a large voice," said Lisa Stewart of Impact 21 Group. "And the lotteries can use what we adopt in c-stores as well as other outlets."

    Also during the Business Requirements meeting, a presentation by Danfoss, a manufacturer or valves and fluid handling components for HVAC and industrial applications, brought up the idea of creating an HVAC working group to create a standard for use with these applications, including HVAC, refrigeration, lighting and energy.

    Retailer benefits addressed include visibility of mechanical systems, temperature alarms, temperature logging data and the ability to make changes remotely. The potential for benefits to the bottom line include energy savings, food spoilage prevention and maintenance savings, according to the company.

    At the upcoming NACStech conference, scheduled for May 5-7, 2008, in Grapevine, Texas, PCATS will present four sessions on a number of topics. The conference will also feature a track dedicated to PCI compliance.

    For more information, please visit www.pcats.org.

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