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    A Standards Connection

    Using NAXML standards, E & C Enterprises upgraded and connected the front and back office.

    E & C Enterprises operates 77 convenience stores -- 12 branded by major oil companies and the remainder under the Crown brand, with stores called Fast Fair. Based in Woodbridge, Va., the company installed PDI back office at its 12 major oil sites last year, operating with POS units including Verifone Ruby and Gilbarco G-site.

    When deciding to upgrade the POS units at its remaining stores, the company sought hardware and software to interface with PDI, which would be implemented throughout the rest of the chain.

    "Our goal was to get all the stores under one solution, at least as far as the back office was concerned, so our pricebook, financials and fuel reconciliation were the same," said David Raidman, manager of IT and maintenance at E & C. "E&C sought hardware and software that interfaced with PDI."

    After looking at and comparing a few systems, the company chose to implement Radiant Systems’ P1550 terminals and POS software. "The majority of our stores had a previous Radiant solution, but the Radiant hardware had reached end of life and we had to upgrade," explained Raidman. "We now have more functionality and features, and can do more in the future such as implement a wide-area-network (WAN)."

    Additionally, since the store employees were familiar with Radiant systems, it made the training process quick. "We were able to remove the current POS system that people were familiar with and replace it with new hardware and software that required little training and customer disruption," said Raidman. "Since it was still a Radiant system, it only took an hour or two of training for the clerks."

    The first step of the upgrade required all hardware to be replaced, and was completed in two an a half weeks in November 2004. It took about two months to pilot and implement the Radiant software and PDI back office as well as integrate the two systems using NAXML standards at the 64 remaining Crown stores.

    While this was not the first Radiant and PDI interface, it was the first one with both fuel and a car wash onsite. "Radiant and PDI worked together and it finally came down to Radiant writing some new code," noted Raidman.

    With only a few details left to iron out, the company is already seeing the benefits of the upgrade and the integration. "Having PDI back office interface to all of our POS systems allows us to centralize our pricebook and only have to maintain one," Raidman explained. "The new back office running Windows XP and Outlook gave us the platform to centralize our e-mail communications, where before we had several e-mail systems operating."

    While the company decided to upgrade because their hardware was at end-of-life, the upgrades brought more functionality and features. "Now we can do more in the future, like implement a WAN," said Raidman.

    Also, PDI allowed the company to offer a single e-mail system with centralization, where before it operated on several e-mail systems.

    Based on a five year ROI, the company expects to save $385,000 on hardware support alone, and the reduced support fees because of the upgrade will offer a huge saving as well, Raidman reported.

    "We did 77 sites and both Radiant and PDI supported us in every imaginable fashion," he said. "Our stores are very diverse and they had to be flexible with us -- and they were flexible."

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