Role of Technology Expanding

Whether it’s PCI compliance, overcoming high credit card fees or getting more out of a current point-of-sale (POS) system, investing in technology has never been more important for c-stores.

With PCI compliance deadlines looming, many operators are still not up to speed on what they need to do, or how to do it.

The Payment Card Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requires merchants and service providers that store, process or transmit customer payment card data to adhere to information security controls and processes that ensure data integrity.

The standard requires a lot of the underlying point-of-sale (POS) systems to be upgraded or replaced starting last year.

That means c-store operators need to find out whether their POS system supplier’s application has been developed to meet the new standard, and whether they have completed their validation testing. If not, they must upgrade their software and, potentially, hardware or have banks refuse to handle their credit card transactions.

Some operators, as expected, are forging ahead with compliance. Others aren’t as fortunate. What’s important for storeowners is that becoming compliant—maintaining compliance—doesn’t have to be expensive, especially when compared to the penalty for noncompliance.

Aside from the card companies, many state governments are developing mandates for compliance, or to punish retailers who are not compliant. These fines alone can be in the millions. “Be more afraid of the state attorneys general than PCI,” warned NACS consultant Gray Taylor. “Visa is the least of your worries if you get breached. If there is a breach, it can destroy your business based on state laws alone.”

POS Upgrades
While PCI is on the front burner, other areas of technology are emerging to help retailers take on shrink, such as employee and vendor theft, shoplifting and paperwork errors, through POS software solutions and scan data. These systems also help retailers control costs and track trends.

For example, at WilcoHess LLC, a 350-store chain based in Winston-Salem, N.C., detailed POS event logging allows for a more granular analysis of cashier activity, said Susan Flynn McLoughlin, the chain’s senior systems analyst.

At Flash Foods in Waycross, Ga., upgrading its POS solution has helped the chain make the fuel offering more profitable. The 180-store chain has reduced gasoline theft by 78% since 2006, a savings of almost $575,000 in just two years.

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