PCATS Conference Reveals Progress

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PCATS Conference Reveals Progress

By Tammy Mastroberte

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The Petroleum Convenience Alliance for Technology Standards (PCATS) revealed the results of its board of directors elections held during its 2009 Annual Conference in Orlando, at the end of January, where vendors and retailers joined together to work on technology standards to benefit the c-store industry.

There are various committees working on standards, including device integration, EB2B retail, EB2B lottery, EB2B motor fuels, point-of-sale/back office integration and retail financial transactions.

At the conference, each committee reported on its progress. The Device Integration Committee is concentrated on integrating the c-store, and developed a specification to eliminate all proprietary messaging protocols with a unified open and secure messaging framework, known as the PCATS Open Site Architecture. This committee completed messaging specifications to support Electronic Sign, Auto-Safe and Fueling Point Devices. Work is now being done to define the Tank Gauge, Car Wash and Building Facilities Management messaging specifications.

In EB2B Retail, PCATS electronic invoices are among the most widely used electronic business documents in the c-store industry, the alliance reported. One regional retailer reduced its invoice entry and reconciliation process by 60 percent, resulting in a more than $100,000 savings in reduced administrative costs.

Currently, this committee’s focus is creating pricebook-related efficiencies -- the PCATS Gateway, powered by 1SYNC and sponsored by NACS, improves the time it takes for information on new product pricing, price changes and promotions to reach retailers, and more. Within the last month, two retailers (one with less than 20 stores and one with more than 500, subscribed to the Gateway, and it is available to all industry retailers and suppliers.

In regards to EB2B Lottery, PCATS and the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL) recently implemented lottery invoicing and game activity pilots in Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas, with retailers including E-Z Mart Stores Inc., The Pantry Inc. and Valero Retail Holdings Inc. This standard allows retailers to receive electronic versions of lottery invoices, and many report a significant decrease in reconciliation time from several days to within one hour.

PCATS and NASPL are currently expanding implementations to a large number of state lotteries, and a Best Practice for Instant Ticket Management (ITM) was developed, and retailers will be able to benefit from this soon.

The version 4.0 of the Point-of-Sale/Back Office Integrations standard is being finalized, according to PCATS. As of now, a total of five back office systems and six POS systems are certified by PCATS. The organization is also partnering with a third party to enhance the existing PCATS Certification Program, and build an Interoperability Lab where conformance testing will be conducted.

Furthermore, in regards to Retail Financial Transactions, a common messaging format for processing credit card payments is now available, solving the problem of requiring a variety of solutions to process credit cards, the alliance reported. POS providers can now build to a single solution and process cards by different processors.

A New Board
During a general assembly meeting on Jan. 29, 2009, at the Florida Hotel and Convention Center, PCATS members elected a new board of directors. The 2009 PCATS Board is:

Gabe Olives, vice president of IT/petroleum
Turkey Hill Minit Markets in Lancaster, Pa.

Vice Chair
Patrick J. Lewis, partner and CEO
Oasis Stop ‘N Go LLC Convenience Stores in Twin Falls, Idaho

Jack Dickinson, manager of engineering and development
Allied Electronics Inc. in Bristol, Pa.

Retailer Business Requirements Committee Chair
Sharon Scace, senior domain architect
BP America Inc. in Warrenville, Ill.

Membership and Marketing Chair
Kim Flaugher, manager of e-business solutions
Anheuser-Busch Inc. in St. Louis, Mo.

Implementation Committee Chair
Robert Sleeper, director of technology
CHR Corp. (dba Rutter's Farm Stores) in York, Pa.

"t is an honor and a privilege to lead this cohesive and dynamic association," said Turkey Hill Minit Markets vice president of IT/Petroleum and PCATS Chair Gabriel Olives. "This organization started with only a handful of retailers and suppliers at NACS in 1995 who shared a common vision. Since then, PCATS has made significant progress to provide the convenience petroleum retailing industry with the necessary tools to remain successful and profitable. I am looking forward to building upon PCATS milestones as we enter our sixth year together. The possibilities for PCATS are endless."

Returning directors to the PCATS board include:

Ann Dozier, vice president, collaborative customer capabilities
The Coca-Cola Co. in Atlanta

Technical Advisory Committee Chair
Lisa Stewart, president
Impact 21 Group LLC in Lexington, Ky.

Certification Committee Chair
Gregg Peele, president and CEO
CMiSolutions Inc. in Charlotte, N.C.

Device Integration Committee Chair
Kenneth Ringeman, system architect
Gilbarco Veeder-Root in Greensboro, N.C.

Point of Sale (POS)/Back Office Committee Vice-Chair
Bill Wade, senior systems analyst
PDI in Temple, Texas

Retail Financial Transactions Committee Chair
Brad McGuinness, vice president of product development
VeriFone Inc. in Clearwater, Fla.

NACS Representative
Michael Davis, vice president of member services
NACS -- The Association for Convenience & Petroleum Retailing in
Alexandria, Va.