NACS Show Tech Roundup, Part 2: Managing Data
Evolving solutions manage flow, analyze trends, deliver insights
LAS VEGAS -- For convenience store retailers, the Information Age is just becoming a concrete reality, as solutions on the trade show floor at the 2014 NACS Show addressed everything from coordinating data flow, securing it and breaking it down into meaningful bits.
Whether the solution was an upgrade to inventory software or an enhanced loyalty application, technology on the show floor was decidedly more sophisticated and mobile-friendly than in past years.
Here's a few of the latest developments:
- Acumera: The data aggregation and delivery company focused on developing Wi-Fi enabled backup systems to retailers' informational networks. With the growing move to EMV--the Europay MasterCard and Visa encrypted payment method--the need to move larger amounts of data raises the concern of system failure. Dirk Heinen, CEO of the Austin, Texas-based Acumera, said with a wireless, secondary system at the store, the network has more than one path to the Internet. Growing sophistication of store-level networks also facilitates the idea of collecting data from any number of devices on site, a trend better known as "The Internet of Things," Heinen said.
- DTT: Tying video to point-of-sale (POS) data can be an important way to tell the story of a flagged incident, said Kim Helms, vice president of national accounts for the Los Angeles-based DTT. Companies can handle audits, train for upselling or catch employee theft through a system that's part technology, part off site, live DTT staff supervision, she said.
- Fuelzee: Tying fuel-pricing applications with a retailer's own app can be a way to maintain customer interest, said Dan McGaw, CEO of Fuelzee, Orlando, Fla. But the industry is also moving to more involved loyalty programs that engage customers with a number of app features, he said.
- GasBuddy: Mobile apps tied to gas stations and convenience stores are evolving as technology opens doors, said the Gaithersburg, Md.-based provider of the OpenStore mobile app. "Beacon" technologies that use Bluetooth signals can now engage the customer when he or she is standing in front of the pump, said Tony Chidiac of GasBuddy.
- Generac: The Waukesha, Wis.-based manufacturer of standalone generators said a recent acquisition has brought in-house a line of mobile units that retailers can rent. The company has also recently developed new loan opportunities for retailers to own their own standalone generators.
- Outsite Networks: If customers today love dispensers that automatically roll back prices, they ought to be equally amazed by "rollback at the POS," said Anton Bakker, president and CEO of Outsite Networks, Norfolk, Va. He said consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers will soon be able to connect--via retailers' loyalty programs--directly with consumers to offer POS rollbacks. The recent acquisition of Hess stores by Enon, Ohio-based Speedway is meaningful in that the loyalty-strong Speedway will be able to expand its footprint beyond the Midwest, allowing for a greater customer base for CPG companies to work with, Bakker said.
- Pinnacle: A theme for the NACS show floor was better access to and analysis of movement data, and in turn, using that data to change a retailer's business for the better, said Drew Mize, COO of the Arlington, Texas-based Pinnacle. Beyond data, he said retailers are looking for best practices and solving problems uncovered by reviewing data with a critical eye.
- Softcard: The mobile wallet firm. formerly called Isis, continues the drumbeat around electronic commerce. Joseph Pearson, director of business development for the Dallas-based solution said the move to EMV may quicken the adoption of mobile wallets. "Ironically, the growing interest around data security is resulting in an accelerated move to EMV," Pearson said, noting how near-field communications (NFC) or the quicker tap of an NFC-equipped phone will eventually become more appealing over to the use of chip-based or EMV-type cards.
- VeriFone:The San Jose, Calif.-based company focused on the launch of its new POS platform that consolidated its Ruby2 POS with its site controller. In addition, the company talked about its latest customer, Philadelphia-based Sunoco, which will install its Secure PumpPAY product to offer coupons and other content through integrated digital screens at the pump. "It is extremely important to engage consumers while they are on your premises," said Mike Tyler, senior director of petroleum distribution channel sales at VeriFone.