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    Sheetz, Giant Oil, AAFES Strengthen Technology Solutions

    The three convenience store retailers make investments in programs.

    NEW YORK – In a sign that technology plays an ever-important role in modern retailing, three convenience store chains -- Sheetz, Giant Oil and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) -- recently signed on technology firms to implement and test solutions for their retail operations.

    Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz partnered with Wright Express Corp. to launch a multi-city trial of a ViVOtech technology that enables drivers to make fuel purchases at Sheetz locations using mobile phones.

    Through the program, drivers participating in Sheetz Business Advantage fleet program can download a fleet card to their specially enabled Near Field Communication (NFC) phones. Customers can then purchase fuel by tapping their phones at the contactless payment readers installed in more than 350 participating Sheetz locations throughout Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina, according to the companies.

    "There are indications that the wireless phone will be the electronic wallet of the future," Russ Lamer, Wright Express’ manager of emerging technologies, said in a statement. "The goal of this field test is to enable us to better understand NFC mobile payment technology and position Wright Express to rapidly achieve leadership in this exciting new market as it develops."

    The pilot begins in January 2009, and Sheetz and Wright Express will gauge its benefits and the impact on the fleet fueling industry.

    In other technology news, Giant Oil, operator of more than 130 convenience stores throughout Florida and Ohio, will implement Enterprise Software Systems' (ESS) CRE Sync to cost-effectively grow its property management operations.

    "When you're dealing with tenant turnover and significant growth, ESS' software ensures that everything is in order, documented and nothing goes unnoticed," Barbara Whittaker, property management executive for Giant Oil, said in a statement, adding CRE Sync software prevents important issues from being overlooked, which maximizes Giant Oil’s revenue and profit.

    In more technology news, AAFES will be supported by RedPrairie Corp.’s Warehouse Management (WMS), Workforce Management (WFM) and Collaboration Portal solutions, which will be deployed throughout the retailer’s worldwide distribution network, with immediate plans to implement each system in two continental U.S. facilities, the technology firm stated.

    The solutions will manage AAFES’s large variety of products, including food and beverages, hazardous materials and retail goods. In addition, RedPrairie WMS will ship to its store formats including mobile installations and permanent stores.

    The goal of the implementation is to improve efficiency within the supply chain by reducing lost inventory, optimizing labor, reducing safety stock and lowering transportation costs, the company stated.

    "RedPrairie has always worked with a wide variety of products from company to company," RedPrairie CEO Mike Mayoras said in a statement. "AAFES is an amalgamation of all those industries: food and beverage, retail, automotive and much more. We’re proud to not only serve each of these verticals, but our men and women in uniform as well."

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