NACS Show Technology Roundup
Exhibitors translate mobile, retail technologies to c-store space
ATLANTA -- More new automobile owners are getting used to talking to their cars, as “telematics” or communicating with intelligent, automated devices makes that possible. On the NACS trade-show floor, retailers were able to see such a set-up where a driver could initiate a pump transaction while sitting in the car.
Manufacturers and suppliers offered a variety of solutions taking advantage of technology trends, from mobile to shelf-tag automation. Much of the focus was about marketing to the consumer, but other offers centered around operational efficiencies and convenience store management.
Here are a few of the exhibitors that stood out:
Applied Predictive Technologies (APT), Arlington, Va. Providing retailers with an opportunity to scientifically test their ideas regarding, for instance, coffee price changes or new-product offers, APT offered software that can isolate a given test situation and show the ramifications of that variable. Saying that the lessons help retailers maximize the effectiveness of each store, Marek Polonski, vice president for APT, said the effort doesn’t forsake instinct, it augments it with scientific insight. “Retailers have creative minds,” he said. “And doing tests like these can validate or refute what they’re doing in the store.”
Cardtronics, Houston. The company just acquired two additional automated teller machine (ATM) firms within the past two months, according to Brian Haynes, director, marketing strategy for retail and consumer for Cardtronics, bringing the company to 80,000 ATMs globally.
Comdata, Brentwood, Tenn. Fleet-fueling automation company Comdata is using radio-frequency technology similar to that used at toll roads to replace fleet cards, according to Justin Alford, Smart Q sales manager for Comdata.
GSP, Clearwater, Fla. With a new internal application or “app” for c-store operations, Kevin Farley, vice president of marketing and technology for GSP, said retailers often need a way to manage the information continually coming from district- and store-level managers. Things like roller-grill maintenance or building repairs get reported “in silos.” GSP’s new app allows staff to report incidents into a single Facebook-style application. That centralization helps the proper people readily gain access to timely information.
GE Lighting Solutions, East Cleveland, Ohio. Among its many lighting offers, GE featured a new recessed LED lighting fixture, according to Joshua Powell, vertical brand manager for retail for GE.
Gilbarco Veeder-Root, Greensboro, N.C. Gilbarco uses in-pump display screens to let customers buy items, such as promotional merchandise or even lottery tickets. At an Atlanta-area test site, customers view a promotional item on screen at the pump, have the option to buy it, pay at the pump and then go into the store to pick it up. On the trade-show floor, the company demonstrated its compressed natural gas (CNG) pump, which used three different pressure levels to achieve a fill-up time comparable to regular gasoline pumps. On the Veeder-Root side, exhibitors demonstrated the company’s new portal, designed to allow tank-gauge information to flow out to managers’ mobile phones and tablets. Kent Reid, vice president of strategic development for Veeder-Root, said the solution accesses the Gilbarco point-of-sale (POS) registers and automatic tank gauges and can connect managers remotely to any number of in-store devices.
Isis, New York. Mobile-wallet entity Isis, demonstrated how smartphones can carry people’s credit cards electronically and can initiate a transaction at a pump. Douglas Kilgour, senior business development executive for Isis, said the wallet supports a number of payment cards, with the near-field communications (NFC) method using technology in the phone to allow customers to “tap” the device at the pump and initiate payment. The method does not use “the cloud” and can deliver on coupons, loyalty rewards and at-the-pump price “rollbacks.”
Koupon Media, Frisco, Texas. The digital-couponing company is developing data on users regarding their download history, according to Brad Van Otterloo, vice president of client development for Koupon Media. They send offers via app and text-message campaigns.
Sionic Mobile, Atlanta. Companies like Sionic Mobile were showing retailers the many ways mobile payment can be accomplished, with its approach using a process similar to “check 21” or the acceptance of virtual checks, according to Bob Burroughs, senior vice president of product marketing.
PDI, Temple, Texas. The company spoke of several new products, including a direct-store-delivery (DSD) supplier portal. Using software as a service (SaaS) technology, the supply-chain solution enables retailers and suppliers to trade business information, said Greg Gilkerson, company president, noting, “This is the last place in the industry where faxes are common.” The solution has three main features: pricebook synchronization, invoice processing and POS item sales reporting. The company also announced solutions for analytics and time clock, as well as hosting services.
The Pinnacle Corp., Arlington, Texas. Mobile and payment are coming together for the industry, along with loyalty, according to Drew Mize, COO for Pinnacle. But mobile payment alone is not “sticky” enough, he said, noting how consumers need to have the loyalty incentive attached.
P97 Networks, Houston, demonstrated its “PetroZone” mobile-commerce and “behavioral-marketing platform” for payment from phones or car “telematics,” where a car that “talks” to a fuel pump initiates a transaction with the driver while still seated.
Outsite Networks, Norfolk, Va. With a 13-foot smartphone in its booth, Outsite Networks demonstrated a brand-centric app that ties consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers directly to consumers. Calling the consumer experience an “ecosystem,” Anton Bakker, president and CEO for Outsite, said the public will eventually migrate to a single app that ties well-known brands to the retailers that carry them--with CPG companies providing consumers with incentives to buy.
Tagnetics Inc., Troy, Ohio. Self-powered shelf tags from Tagnetics Inc. quickly uploaded prices for items, said Marty Monserez, vice president of sales for the company. In addition to pricing information, Tagnetics shelf tags electronically link to sensors (they look like plastic sheets and sit on the shelf itself), giving them the ability to detect out-of-stocks. The company also displayed small video screens clamped to shelves that can enliven products with full-motion video.
VeriFone, Clearwater, Fla. In one of its latest developments, VeriFone tied its promotional upselling displays, known in the industry as “Lift,” to the pump, according to Wells Burke, vice president and general manager for LiftRetail within VeriFone. The company also updated its POS with a touch-only Ruby II, according to Michael Tyler, senior director of product marketing.
Watchfire Signs, Danville, Ill. The company exhibited large video-playing, digital display screens that help retailers stand out from the competition. Dave Warns, vice president of on-premise sales, said such visually dynamic signs become a deciding factor as motorists choose which driveways to turn into.
Wayne, A GE Energy Business, Austin, Texas. Wayne representatives demonstrated how pump companies are tying in to mobile-wallet issuers.