Spring Tech News

Suppliers talk new products, new business

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- Even as tradeshow booths began coming down and cable-TV celebrities from the Discovery Channel series Mythbusters told humorous anecdotes to retailer attendees at the closing session of the 13th annual NACStech conference last week in Grapevine, Texas, information about new players, products and services applicable to convenience store and gas station technology continued to flow.

Earlier this week, CSP Daily News offered a two-part roundup of show-related announcements. (Click here for Part 1;click here for Part 2.) Here's more—some related to the show, some not:

Company updates pricing solution. The newest version of RackPrice, a petroleum pricing-optimization tool from Florham Park, N.J.-based KSS will be released June 2. The new version will help wholesale suppliers manage cost and price volatility more effectively, as well as support the application of KSS-engineered, price-optimization technology to a wider variety of wholesale, supply-management scenarios, officials said. "This latest release of RackPrice builds on our proven wholesale pricing platform to deliver price optimization capabilities specifically targeted at the most critical business situations faced by operators today," said Bob Stein, president and CEO of KSS. "With price volatility reaching new highs and crude oil costs at record levels, organizations are crying out for technology that can help them continuously adapt their pricing strategies and tactics to strike the optimal balance between supply and demand."

Firm release supply-chain suite. Focused on synchronized flow of goods, tighter integration between warehouse- and transportation-management applications, enhanced recall capabilities and additional embedded parcel-manifesting functionality, Milwaukee-based RedPrairie Corp. released its E²e supply chain execution solution suite. Tom Kozenski, RedPrairie vice president of product strategy said, "Supply chain operations have undergone tremendous changes in today's consumer-driven marketplace. Storage warehouses are being retooled as flow-through processing centers where inbound and outbound shipments are synchronized to optimize the inventory flow in a multi-channel, order-fulfillment operation. This agile movement of goods must be visible and efficient."

Lower-cost, store-level and enterprise solution enters market. Having developed a c-store point-of-sale (POS) solution that includes backoffice, labor management and corporate enterprise-level functionality, officials with XProtean Inc., Milpitas, Calif., are targeting smaller, independent retailers looking for a total, cost-effective solution. Vikas Jain, executive vice president for business development and corporate marketing for the company said the product is already 40% below the cost of comparable solutions. "We looked at cost of ownership," Jain said. "But [retailers] also needed a solution that was easy to use, manage and operate without need for an IT desk."

Distribution chain offers savings. Specialized Services Inc., a Southfield, Mich.-based company that offers customized purchase-support services to transportation clients, has launched a cost-savings marketing concept called, "NOVEL" or "Network of Value Enhanced Leadership." Officials said the concept "allows our customers to tap into an exclusive network of suppliers that will provide highly competitive pricing on a number of products and services, including fuel." David Joseph chairman and CEO said, "We focus on vertical integration by acquiring gas stations and convenience stores that will become part of our state-of-the-art distribution network."

Littlefield Oil expands DTN services. Omaha-based DTN, an information-services provider, announced that client Littlefield Oil Co., Ft. Smith, Ark., a wholesale-fuel supplier, recently added price-export capabilities and additional seats for DTN Fuel Buyer, an industry source for centralized rack and contract-price management. "With mid-day price changes like they are today, fuel purchasers have got to stay on top of what the markets are doing in real-time—if you're not, it's a real disadvantage," said Brad Arterbury, president of Littlefield. "Working with DTN makes us more efficient in how we dispatch our trucks, how we purchase our fuel and when we actually put it in the ground. It all equals more money to our bottom line."

Safe company ships capacity-note dispenser. Tidel Engineering, Carrollton, Texas, a provider of cash-management systems and robbery-prevention products, announced the shipment of a high-capacity, note-dispenser peripheral. The note dispenser supports three or four denominations of notes from most countries and each canister holds 1,500 notes of each denomination for a total of 4,500 notes or 6,000 notes. "Due to the modularity of the Tidel Sentinel family, the [dispenser] will attach to any other combination of Sentinel peripherals," noted Ed Grondahl, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Tidel. "For example, you could configure a single or dual bulk note validator with a bulk coin dispenser [six or eight bins]. The Sentinel family can be configured in more than 100 combinations of hardware to conform to the customer's needs; we don't make the customer conform to a standard Tidel model."

Provider announces self-checkout solution. NCR Corp., Dayton, Ohio, announced a self-checkout solution that provides consumers with a streamlined self-service experience and expands the convenience of self-checkout to other retail environments. "Since self-checkout was first deployed more than a decade ago, the way consumers prefer to shop has changed drastically," said Richard Arnold, NCR vice president, retail industry marketing for NCR. "Now, more than ever, consumers are demanding self-service as a way to save valuable time and gain convenience."

Company offers web-based, fuel-buying tool. Energy Management Institute (EMI), New York, a provider of information services to the energy sector has released FutureRack Live, a web-based, fuel-buying decision tool. FutureRack Live forecasts wholesale distillate and gasoline prices for fuel suppliers, truck-stop marketers and transportation companies. Henry's Travel Plaza in Orangeburg, S.C., began using the service, EMI officials said, when crude-oil futures hit $110 a barrel. "We're accessing the system three-to-four-times each day," said Brian Combs, plaza manager. "And every rack price prediction has been dead on for the next day. We're now scheduling our trucks and timing our decisions based on these forecasts, which will help us reduce our fuel costs and ultimately increase margins."

Payment-systems provider buys networks services business. Heartland Payment Systems, Princeton, N.J., a provider of credit-, debit- and prepaid-card processing; payroll; check management; and payment services, announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the network-services business of Alliance Data Systems Corp., Dallas. Heartland is paying $77.5 million in cash, with the acquisition to be financed through a combination of cash-on-hand and the company's borrowing facilities.

Solutions provider offers forecasting application. Ra'anana, Israel-based Retalix, a provider of software solutions for retailers and distributors, announced the availability of Retalix DemandAnalytX release 6.0., a new version that makes the implementation of demand forecasting and order optimization easier and faster, according to the company. Retalix DemandAnalytX (DAX) is a browser-based, demand forecasting and computer-generated ordering (CGO) solution that enables retailers and distributors to optimize inventory levels, increase product availability and reduce spoilage. The software application uses algorithms to interpret point-of-sale information and inventory data, forecast store-level demand and optimize replenishment orders, for both convenience store and supermarket formats.

Truckstop operation picks network provider. Officials with the soon-to-open truckstop called Willie's Place at Carl's Corner selected Blue Wireless and Data Inc. for its technology and IT services. The Dallas-based supplier offers a range of IT services for multi-use commercial development areas including bandwidth, wireless Internet access, VoIP telephone and IT relocation services. Willie's Place at Carl's Corner plans to be a truckers' oasis located approximately 70 miles south of Dallas on Interstate 35. The site is in the final stages of construction, said company officials at press time.

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