Solution Evolution

Pinnacle execs talk loyalty, mobile payment, "the cloud" at start of user conference

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

Bob Johnson (left), Drew Mize

ARLINGTON, Texas -- As the ability to store and transmit data becomes both more robust and wireless, retailers are looking for ways to analyze data, access information remotely and capitalize on emerging loyalty and payment opportunities, according to executives with The Pinnacle Corp.

On the first day of their three-day users' conference, Bob Johnson, president of the Arlington, Texas-based software and hardware solutions company, and Drew Mize, vice president of product management and marketing, spoke to CSP Daily News on a wide range of evolving issues:

CSP: If we were to talk about hot technology trends today, what would your retailer clients say?

Mize: Loyalty, business intelligence, mobile payments and using mobile ways to get to data—increased mobility for the retailer.

CSP: Well, loyalty is one that has been in the mix for a while. What's your take on where the industry is?

Johnson: Every company is different. Our current offering is flexible, allowing them to pick and choose. Some [loyalty] suppliers have a roadmap to success, saying, "This is the right way." Our strategy is that what might work for one company, may not walk for another.

CSP: So you provide options?

Johnson: Yes, and too, there's the walk, crawl, run scenario. I often say to prospective clients that if you just got rid of the punch card, you'd eliminate "sweet hearting," or having employees give things away to their friends. An electronic solution would guarantee benefits go to those who should get them.

Mize: We also see flexibility as offering different types of loyalty programs, such as ACH attributes where loyalty is tied to a debit program [and savings from processing fees are passed on to customers].

Johnson: And coalition programs where there's little cost \and risk to retailers. While there's always the risk of building someone else's brand, it can be a strategic advantage. We've even hear of it going beyond grocery partners to home improvement [businesses].

CSP: You mentioned business intelligence. Can you elaborate?

Mize: It costs much less to move and store data, which enables new capabilities. Business intelligence started out by focusing on the transaction--sales data and affinity or market-basket purchases. But there's a lot of operational information.

Johnson: So we can tie no-sales and other cashier "scorecard" information, computer-assisted ordering and fuel replenishment.

CSP: What other technology advances should retailers be watching?

Johnson: Well, a lot of people are talking about "cloud" technology, where people like Microsoft [sell computer space and capability]. You can start up quickly and scale in that you don't have to buy equipment and wait for delivery. But there's no free lunch, either you pay a lump sum or over time with a service.

Mize: I'd say mobile payments. It'll take a while to take hold though because there's a lot of competing technologies vying to be the standard.

Arlington, Texas-based Pinnacle delivers products that automate the broad spectrum of c-store operations and supply-chain management of fuel operations. Nationwide, Pinnacle's products and services are used daily in thousands of convenience outlets to automate and improve their store operations and by fuel marketers to increase their efficiency in the complex management of fuel delivery.

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