Posted by: Kevin Burns  |   Comments  No Response

PCI DSS has joined the list of certainties in life for the retail IT community and there’s no doubt that it’s one of the least attractive projects at the moment.

Despite this, we recently held our 8th PCI roundtable. We run these for customers every three to six months, focussing on what’s going on in the payments and PCI world. I think their success has been due, not least, to the “rules” we put in place the first time we sat down together:

Notes are taken at each meeting and circulated to the BTE PCI LinkedIn forum but they remain anonymous. As part of my wider role I also try to provide some food for thought at each roundtable, whether that’s updates to standards or where payments and PCI have hit the news.

The good news for me is that our retailers keep coming back; the benefit  for them is that they get to talk to each other about what they’re doing and how they’re tackling the PCI DSS.

This time we were kindly hosted by one of our customers and it was another great event. It must be said that their hosting was first class and for that I sincerely thank them, indeed it took a great deal of pressure off my shoulders as “facilitator”.

The hottest topic remains point-to-point encryption (P2PE) and scope and to be honest I think it will still be hot until at least the middle of 2013, simply because it has taken so long to get off the ground that we will not be clear on how P2PE fits with the overall PCI DSS with any certainty until retailers (and Payment Service/Solution Providers and Service Providers) go through the process. “It’s like going back to PDQs (Process Data Quickly),” one retailer remarked, referring to the terminals provided by acquiring banks; “Yes, but a bit cheaper,” was the response.

Other topics included contactless, NFC and mobile payments; Visa merchant agent and the QIR program; the possible merge of PCI into the Data Protection Act in Europe and the PCI compliance timelines which loom in 2012/13.

Overall the event must have been a success, or we wouldn’t have agreed to a 9th roundtable in September! Contact me for more information or visit the BTE PCI LinkedIn forum for details.

Kevin Burns is a PCI & Payments Consultant for BT Expedite. For more info on PCI or to download Kevin’s white paper visit our website. You can also contact Kevin online or reach him via 0870 8506880.

Posted by: Justine Arthur  |   Comments  No Response

We came out on top in two categories at this year’s prestigious Retail Week Technology Awards, scooping the prizes for EPoS Initiative of the Year and Multichannel Integration of the Year.

In what has become a must-attend event in the retail calendar, the Lancaster London  was packed with retailers and suppliers. With some of the biggest names in retail amongst the finalists, we had everything crossed as the results were read out and were delighted to win two major categories:

1.       EPOS  initiative of the year category

Our collaboration with Aurora Fashions has seen us implement a mobile POS solution on in-store iPads. The technology was trialled at the flagship Oasis store in London, before being rolled out across more stores and other brands.

Liz Evans, managing director of Oasis, explains: “Using iPads is a fun and more practical way of shopping. People don’t have to queue and can buy anywhere on the shop floor. They can also look things up online and take pictures of themselves when trying on clothes. We are making shopping more fun, intuitive and innovative. In our first week of operation, iPad transactions accounted for 20 per cent of sales.”

2.       Multichannel Integration Project of the Year

Late last year, the Aurora brands launched a new approach to stock management and order fulfilment in partnership with BT Expedite & Fresca (BT Expedite) and Retail Assist. Anywhere, Everywhere is a strategy in which all selling channels– both on and offline – are integrated such that order fulfilment across all channels can be realised from one stock pool through industry leading systems capability.

Retail Week editor Joanna Perry said on the night: ”The structural changes taking place in our industry at the moment are giving technology a new higher-profile. In the past few years I’ve seen IT go from being thought of as a necessary cost to an enabler of change and a creator of new business opportunities. Everyone in the room – retailers and suppliers – is playing their part in this transformation. Whether you are a winner tonight or not, you should be proud of what you are achieving. Now really is your time to shine.”

Posted by: Justine Arthur  |   Comments  No Response

Our annual client conference is a great way to gauge the mood of retailers and find out what they really think about what’s happening in the sector. This year’s event was no different. We’d set out to discuss themes around bringing web and store closer together and we were delighted by how receptive retailers are to this idea. And the great thing is that they’re all doing it, or planning to do it, in their own ways.

Geoff Barraclough, BT Expedite’s director, strategy, marketing & propositions, opened the conference by declaring that: “Retail is not dead. But it’s changing. Fast.”

And how! A few years ago everyone seemed fairly sure that physical stores were on the way out. We then had a period of trying to replicate the store online. But now we’re bringing the best of the online experience in-store and it’s giving bricks and mortar retailing a whole new lease of life. So, for example, we’ve got the phenomenon of ‘showrooming’, where customers visit stores while shopping around on their mobiles.

The buzzword of the conference was omni-channel – which describes a seamless experience where you essentially make everything available everywhere and manage it all from one stock pool. Of course, like e-, multi- and cross-channel the name may have changed by the time you read this…

Mobile technology is the driving force behind all of this. As people become more and more comfortable browsing and buying on their phones, retailers will have to respond. Most retailers are already looking at how best to tackle this, which meant the conference briefings on mobile payments were standing room only.

We heard from PayPal about its in-store payment initiative and learned how Aurora Fashions’ hugely successful in-store iPad project got up and running – and discovered that one of the biggest challenges was how they should be held: satchel, neckband or wristband!

Best of all, nothing at the conference was sugar-coated. David Kohn, of Snow+Rock said: “You sometimes come to company events and hear a party political broadcast. But here, you get the real story – warts and all.”

Nadine Sharara, head of e-commerce at Thomas Pink summed it up: “It’s really good to mingle with other customers that are doing different things with the same technology and share ideas.”

We work in an intensely competitive sector which changes at an insane pace. That’s why we love it. And it’s why having the chance to get together, share problems openly, discuss solutions frankly and have a beer together at the end of it all is so important.

For a flavour of this year’s client conference, check out our conference page, with tons of videos, retailer comments and photos from the event.

By Justine Arthur, head of communications & campaigns, BT Expedite

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