NACS Tech Notes

From pump TVs to scan-based trading, trade show goes high-tech

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

CHICAGO -- A tour around the petroleum and technology aisles of the trade show at last week's NACS convention revealed a wide range of developments, from video on site to new ideas regarding supply-chain efficiency.

Here is a quick list of notable trends, ideas and innovations:

Scan-based trading. A new way of looking at supply-chain contracts and inventory management may be a scanning concept already familiar to the grocery channel. After the merger earlier this summer of grocery-software firm Prescient Applied Intelligence Inc., West Chester, Pa., and human resources software company [image-nocss] Park City Group, Park City, Utah, the new entity brought to the show floor the idea of introducing scan-based trading to the convenience industry. Karen Sickles, director of solutions consulting for Prescient said that in such a construct, manufacturers would own the merchandise up until the items are scanned at the register. It's a type of consignment scenario that may have wins for all parties, she said. But she acknowledged that the idea would need wide-ranging support to become a reality for convenience operators.

More on-site TV. Video at the pump has been a recurring sight on the trade show floor for the past couple of years. But some trends are emerging. For suppliers who have based their business model on becoming a mini-TV network, the concept is gaining traction. David Leider, CEO of Destination Media and Catherine Archer, marketing manager of Gas Station TV, both of Oak Park, Mich., said their presence is growing in metro markets and their paradigm is working. Leider said interest is also climbing for placing TVs in the store to bolster the effectiveness of in-store promotions. Todd Moffett, national sales manager, Westinghouse Digital Electronics, St. Charles, Ill., and Francois Huynh, vice president of strategic planning and operations, AdtekMedia, Costa Mesa, Calif., said as the idea of video on site evolves, retailers are getting more interested in retaining control of content—with the ultimate answer potentially lying somewhere between having some control while allowing the majority of content to be handled by a third party.

Secure, efficient pumps. The major pump makers are touting both increased efficiencies in pumps as well as added security measures designed to comply with upcoming payment card industry (PCI) mandates. Officials with Austin, Texas-based Dresser Wayne said its "iX" Pay Secure Payment product conforms to upcoming PCI requirements for secure personal identification number (PIN) pads. In addition, its "Xflo" fuel meter addresses issues of "drift" and meter accuracy.

Growth of prepaid credit. While prepaid credit and debit have a way to go before becoming--as many believe--the next "wireless prepaid" phenomenon, at least one supplier believes part of the problem is pricing. Jerry Welch, chairman and CEO, nFinancSe, Tampa, Fla., said competitors' prices on initial purchase, monthly fees and reloads are all too high. He said that the key to pricing was looking at the product through the eyes of a retailer.

Tying age verification to loyalty. Retailers may find that the age-verification process may also help them establish a foundation for loyalty programs. Robert Grabowski, manager of retail alliances, Honeywell, Centerport, N.Y., said that their scanning devices can take data from a driver's license and populate a database with information such as name, age and address.

In other news:

PCATS standards. Longtime head of the technology standards group called PCATS, Alexandria, Va., announced his retirement. John Hervey said he would stay until a replacement is found. Meanwhile, PCATS has initiated efforts to certify technology to the standards it has developed, partnering with Chicago-based W. Capra Group to develop a testing facility in the Chicago-area.

Click on the Technology header above for more coverage of technology featured at the NACS Show.

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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