Tech Notes

Data-security fuels trade-show innovation

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

ATLANTA -- Compliance to payment-card industry (PCI) standards drove many of the innovations seen on the trade-show floor at this month's NACS convention, with upgraded in-pump payment systems, networks and point-of-sale (POS) devices being equipped to meet the challenge.

PCI compliance was also a topic of one of the convention workshops. Panelists reviewed Visa deadlines for retailers to upgrade their systems, including POS, networks and even personal identification number (PIN) pads at the pump. For more on those, go to

We use a carrot and a stick, said Stoddard Lambertson, director of enterprise risk and compliance for Visa U.S.A. Inc., San Francisco. We have both incentives and penalties.

Jana Callier, Cracker Barrel Stores, Baton Rouge, La., summed up the situation for many retailers when she said, It's overwhelming.

As retailers get more familiar with the mandated, data-security measures, panelist Kirsten Paust, vice president of global retail systems for Gilbarco Veeder-Root, Greensboro, N.C., said they can weave compliance to the larger picture of equipment upgrades. You'll need to sit with your supplier to answer questions as to how you're going to get where you need to be, she said. Success happens when all parties come to the table. This is not like flicking a switch, but something that happens over time.

On the trade-show floor, suppliers were also focused on new products or upgrades that will help retailers with PCI compliance. Jeff Wakefield, vice president of marketing, integrated systems for VeriFone, Clearwater, Fla., said the in-pump POS they had displayed had internal design changes to make the mechanisms less open to tampering, a metal hood over the transaction area to hide the PIN pad from cameras that identity thieves may have placed on the canopy of the pump, and will encrypt personal data as soon as the customer inserts his or her payment card.

Security concerns can also arise with wide-area networks (WANs), said Jon Paul Bergman, regional account manager for MegaPath, San Antonio. The biggest issue is security, he said. [Solutions exist] that can provide secure transport of POS and customer information.

PCI compliance has added a layer of complexity for retailers wanting to upgrade a range of internal systems, mostly because of the involvement of WANs. Greg Gilkerson, president of PDI, Temple, Texas, said, When retailers put in a network, their providers have to have achieved certain certifications to be PCI compliant. We're geared up to help people analyze network security, but it's a challenging process for the retailer.

The message of raising security standards, however, is slowly getting into the field, said James Hervey, Radiant Systems, Alpharetta, Ga. Many retailers I know are either in the middle of or have just completed a [data security] audit.

Other show-floor trends included:

Cellular-phone payment. One supplier, Mocapay, Boulder, Colo., has launched a multi-retailer pilot in the Denver area in which participating retailers can accept payments that customers initiate via their cell phones. Michael Ferkiss, vice president of business development for Mocapay, said customers sign up for the payment option and when they're in the store, they use their cell phones to call Mocapay. Through security codes and by using that particular phone, the customer receives a one-time-use access code. Within a 15-minute window, he or she can use the code to pay for products. Ferkiss said retailers can use Mocapay to bypass credit-card fees, tying customers to their checking accounts via the automated clearinghouse (ACH).Business intelligence. Arlington, Texas-based The Pinnacle Corp. said retailers can get a better handle on their businesses with new computer-assisted ordering and dashboard applications. Drew Mize of Pinnacle said retailers already have many of the elements needed to initiate a computer-assisted-ordering program, with the end result being a more efficient supply process. With regards to the dashboard, software tied to the retailer's database can generate reports that use colored spheres or squares to indicate category performance.Enterprise solutions. Enterprise systems, labor and foodservice were a part of what officials with RedPrairie, Alpharetta, Ga., said were in demand. Such functionality allows more executives and managers to build reports specific to their needs, said John Russo, general manager, retail performance management for RedPrairie. Pete Vavalides, global director of sales, foodservice for the company, noted too that as foodservice becomes a more important category for the industry, so will technology specific to those needs. [Many retailers] don't understand foodservice, Vavalides said. They need the tools to manage the business.

Gilkerson of PDI said if the number of retailers visiting the company's booth is any indication, interest in enterprise solutions is high. Though most components in PDI's solution have been in the field for some time, his company recently completed the in-store phase of its enterprise-application development, bringing closure to what has been a five-year process. A big part of our trade-show initiative was showing our new brand identity and having it coincide with the completion of our enterprise software, he said. It's an opportunity to get customers up to speed on our development and get prospective customers acquainted with our product line.

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
View More Articles By Angel Abcede