LAS VEGAS —While the migration to EMV and chip cards dominated much of the discussion around technology at this year’s NACS Show, retailers walking the trade-show floor had a lot to aspire to with regards to mobile solutions and new ways to engage their customers.
Many of the themes around the show floor involved customer engagement—everything from high-definition signage to digital couponing and the use of beacon technology.
Here are eight themes that surfaced on the trade-show floor this year:
1. Big data. The growing use of data to assess customer shopping habits, manage inventory and measure performance was pivotal to new developments with many trade-show exhibitors. Greg Gilkerson, president of PDI, Temple, Texas, talked about developing robust ways to use data, with the replenishment system being a key driver.
He said the latest version of their solution is their first, truly “big data” application incorporating site-level transactions among other resources.
Others addressed the ongoing evolution of their products to deliver important functions.
Peter Jackson, vice president of marketing, DataMax Group Inc., Round Rock, Texas, said they have been using tools to help them evolve their product as they go, having just added a new accounting feature.
In terms of data conservation, Tim Lindblom, vice president, Gulfcoast Software Solutions, Clearwater, Fla., said they have updated their security solution to grab still shots around a flagged event versus streaming or downloading full video (which can gobble up data).
2. Branding. The theme of branding—everything from ATMs to foodservice islands—also emerged from trade-show exhibitors.
Joel Antonini, vice president of marketing, Cardtronics, Houston, spoke about allowing multiple bank brands to appear on ATM displays as a way to expand customer options. He said branding can occur on the screen prior to the transaction, during the transaction and then on the receipt. He also addressed the need for ATM upgrades to Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV) standards by the liability shift date for ATMs in October 2016.
Foodservice equipment was another area for branding, according to Ray Peden, president, Franke Coffee Systems North America, Smyrna, Tenn. Their espresso-making devices can grab the attention and imagination of the customer with a strong, branded identity.
Foodservice is a growing area for branding in general, said Geoff Neuhoff, CEO, GSP, Clearwater, Fla. The company has been helping convenience-store chains brand in-store foodservice programs, to the extent that GSP has started its own in-house foodservice photography department. Along with an operational mobile app, GSP helps retailers design and execute any number of in-store signage programs.
At the pump, Verifone Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif., is helping retailers deliver content at in-pump displays, according to Paul Jankauskas, chief revenue officer. Verifone went into a partnership with Greensboro, N.C.-based Gilbarco and its pump TV subsidiary that is now the VeriFone Media department out of New York.
3. Connectivity. As the need for data grows, so does the need for stronger networks and greater connectivity at the store. Rosemary Blum, chief marketing officer at Sagenet, McLean, Va., said data for digital-signage content, real-time inventory control and even EMV are calling for networks with broadband capability and WiFi backup.
In terms of security, Dirk Heinen, CEO, Acumera, Austin, Texas, talked about how retailers are trying to build that bandwidth, but at the same time, are trying to keep cardholder data from getting into the mix. As third-party solutions come along, retailers are afraid of exposing their networks.
Another player in the security field is Echosat, Lexington, Ky. James Stroud, petroleum channel manager, said they have developed new firewall products to meet the industry’s growing needs.
Other companies present at the NACS Show included Invenco, Aukland, New Zealand, and Cybera, Franklin, Tenn.
4. Credit cards and avoiding interchange fees. A couple of exhibitors talked about the issue of interchange fees and how retailers can avoid them.
Paul Metko, president, Convenience Store Automation, Appleton, Wis., spoke about internal fleet cards and reducing the use of credit-card rails.
Don Porter, senior manager of the NACS program at Atlanta-based First Data Corp., said the joint program is designed to help retailers encourage customers to use the cheaper debit-payment alternative.
5. Customer-relationship management. Dallas-based Centego was on the show floor promoting fuel rollback loyalty programs, while other companies, such as Danville, Ill.-based Watchfire continues to develop its digital signage technology. A recent acquisition has allowed Watchfire to offer video advertising on cooler doors, according to Dave Warns, vice president of on premise sales.
6. EMV, data security. The move to EMV compliance is on Steve Brady’s mind, as the vice president of sales for ATM provider, Cord Financial Services, Temple, Texas, upgrades its network.
Such concerns have been a priority for Innovative Control Systems, Wind Gap, Pa., which has upgraded its car wash point-of-sale (POS) to EMV standards, said Rob Deal, vice president of international and corporate accounts.
Commercial fueling network, WEX, South Portland, Maine, has also been working to upgrade terminals and cards for EMV, said Brian Fournier, vice president, merchant and channel partner.
Shekar Swamy, president of Omega, Ellisville, Mo., said the company has developed a new firewall device that will help with in-store security.
In terms of in-pump security, Steve Harris, sales manager at Locking Systems International Inc., Orlando, Fla., demonstrated a steel box that encloses in-pump card readers as an anti-skimming protection device.
Consultants with Chicago-based W. Capra Consulting Group were in and out of workshop sessions discussing EMV and the larger task of overall, data security.
7. Mobile solutions. Developing on a foundation of convenience-store solutions, Melissa Fox Hadley, director of product management for The Pinnacle Corp., Arlington, Texas, said the company is developing a mobile strategy where retrieving data from multiple sources within a company could flow to mobile apps, tablets, on-screen dashboards and ultimately to the right people within the organization.
Beacon solutions also surfaced, with Anton Bakker, president and CEO, Outsite Networks Inc., Norfolk, Va., demonstrating a red, button-shaped case with a beacon in it that sticks onto a pump. Customers can tap their phones on the button and receive advertiser coupons or content, without the need for an app.
Other companies, like Houston-based P97, demonstrated mobile payment through to coupon offer and payment history, while mobile-app provider, Zenput showed how a hand-held gauge can read the temperature of a chicken sandwich and how the data can flow into an app and into the cloud, according to Vladik Rikhter, CEO for the San Francisco-based company.
8. Underbanked options. More help may be on the way for the underbanked, or individuals who operate with little or no affiliation with financial institutions. Sam Jonas, president of 5604 LLC, Centennial, Colo., is working with a company that handles electronic billing for the underbanked. Similarly, James Williams, leader of relationship management with First Data is assisting NACS with a program that puts convenience-store workers—many of whom fall into the underbanked demographic—on electronic payroll plans.