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PCATS Regional Forum Illustrates Support for Pilot Initiatives

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The latest Petroleum Convenience Alliance for Technology Standards (PCATS) regional forum, held Aug. 19 in Madison, Wis., was attended by 65 retailer and supplier participants who expressed interest in establishing pilot programs to exchange electronic pricebook item and invoice data. The second in a series of regional retailer-supplier forums was designed to bring retailers and suppliers together to learn about the mutual benefits of PCATS XML-based electronic commerce standards.

In a retailer panel session, participants expressed a strong desire to work with their suppliers to pilot and implement mutually beneficial trading relationships based on PCATS standards. "I would love to set up an FTP site right now to establish pilot programs for item pricebook information," said Ed Strahs, director of information technology for La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip Inc.

While emerging trading exchanges and data pools will provide benefits to large retailers, small-to-medium retailers are more focused on the use of PCATS standards to obtain accurate item-based information about the products they sell directly from suppliers in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

The PCATS standards are designed to fill the void where large electronic data interchange (EDI) systems cannot effectively serve smaller retailers. Recognizing that PCATS standards will not replace EDI, John Hervey, PCATS CEO, said, "It's not EDI vs. XML, but about the use of EDI and XML together delivering the paperless exchange of business data depending on each retailer's individual needs and capabilities."

PCATS member merchandise suppliers Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Lance and PepsiCo are taking turns participating in the regional forums presenting a unified endorsement of why suppliers should consider the use of PCATS standards.

"PCATS XML standards provide the 'key' to solving the puzzle," said Kraig Adams, manager of data synchronization with Coca-Cola Customer Business Solutions.
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