NACStech Show Floor Report, Part II

Developments in software, networks and beyond

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- Even though compliance with payment card industry (PCI) mandates weighed heavily on the minds of retailers attending this year's NACStech conference, the push to upgrade has also opened a window for other high-tech opportunities.

Here are a few show-floor developments in software, networking and other convenience-related technology:
PCI-secure, robust communications. EchoSat Communications, Lexington, Ky., announced they are the conduit for Framingham, Mass.-based Gulf Oil's loyalty program. James Stroud, vice president of program management, said [image-nocss] it's a PCI compliant, secure routing mechanism that leverages the Internet.
Managing store-level energy costs. Michael Young, marketing analyst for Emerson Climate Technologies, Kennesaw, Ga., said there are energy-management scenarios that retailers can take advantage of. For instance, they can get on plans that will pay retailers a fee for purposely cutting down power to their stores at predetermined times. The ability to do that allows utilities to avoid area "brown outs" by balancing the energy grid.
Secure processing, contactless payment. Officials with Greenwood Village, Colo.-based First Data said security regarding transaction processing is of utmost importance to retailers. "All customers have become concerned with their cost of payment acceptance this year, more than any other year, and are looking for solutions to help their bottom line," said Paul Cwalina, senior vice president of global merchant sales for First Data. In addition, the company is promoting an array of products, including "contactless" technology, check verification, payroll cards and closed-loop gift cards.
Back-office systems with expandable options. Aaron Walsh, director of sales and marketing for Firestream Worldwide, St. Louis, said that retailers looking to grow automation throughout their organizations can achieve both PCI compliance and their expansion goals while attaining a return on investment (ROI). He said developments they're making will help retailers accomplish these tasks.
Fuel-supply efficiencies. Retailers are continually searching for ways to better manage the fuel-supply chain, said Greg Salverson, director of global business solutions for FuelQuest, Houston. "They need to manage the supply chain to capitalize on the current volatility to properly source and secure fuel," he said, noting that these days, retailers are trying to lower tank inventory without running out of fuel.
VOIP-connectivity solutions. Dan Foster, senior vice president of sales for MegaPath, Pleasanton, Calif., said his company has just started to roll out voice-over Internet protocol (VOIP) as part of the continuing evolution of voice and data transfer between small-box sites and headquarters. "You can converge multiple phone lines," he said, "in some cases going from eight-to-10 down to one."
Loyalty ties with grocery chains. Milo Miloslavov, vice president of development for Midax, Virginia Beach, Va., said his company handles price rollback loyalty programs and has a 10-year history in the business, working with retailers like Keene, N.H.-based Piggly Wiggly and its "pig points" program. That program involves numerous area gasoline retailers. Click here for a look back at Part I of this series on hardware developments on the 2009 NACStech trade-show floor.

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