STORES Magazine - July 2008 - (Page 31)

WORTH WATCHING / POS Transactional Analysis Virgin Megastores tracks real-time performance of payments infrastructure BY REBECCA LOGAN W ithout proper monitoring, an ATM machine can sit out-of-service for weeks before a customer calls to report the problem, rather than merely storming off in frustration. “On the retail side, it’s really the same,” says Marc Borbas, vice president of marketing for INETCO Systems, a Burnaby, B.C.-based company that offers real-time transaction management for the financial services sector and payment networks. How many times have you waited in line for a cup of coffee, handed your credit card to the barista and watched as the first swipe failed? “It might work the second time, but you don’t really know why,” Borbas says. “These are the kinds of issues that are happening at checkouts.” And these are the kinds of issues that have prompted INETCO to adapt and market its services to the retail industry. INETCO’S Insight 3.1 software sheds light on how POS terminals are performing, how upstream providers are responding and how the payment infrastructure is processing transactions. The company showcased that software earlier this year at NRF’s Annual Convention & EXPO in New York, where it attracted the attention of Robert Fort, CIO and vice president of information technology for Los Angeles-based Virgin Entertainment Group. A big believer in real-time technology, Fort was intrigued by the potential and has since rolled out the INETCO software in Virgin Megastores. The company had been operating without a good WWW.STORES.ORG way to track this type of financial transaction data from the stores. “This is a tool that can go out and look at business transactions in a great deal of detail and start to analyze where the slow-downs are occurring,” he says. Soon after the INETCO software was up and running, it identified some issues at Virgin: Every fifth transaction was clocking a longer-than-usual response time. “The customer doesn’t have any idea about that,” Fort says. “In general, they aren’t having any bad experience, but we are asking ourselves, ‘Why?’” Fort hopes that by identifying problems now, they can be addressed in advance of the peak sales period around the holidays. Real-time intervention Customer service is key to successful retailers’ strategies, so it only makes sense that these companies pay heed to the longer lines, abandoned purchases and downright frustration that financial transaction problems can cause, Borbas says. Many retailers do run financial transaction reports. But they tend to identify problems long after the fact, Borbas says. “These things are very loosely related to the customer, but they don’t really map directly to what’s happening to the customer. What’s happening, instead, is the store [is] phoning in an issue saying, ‘This lane is slow’ rather than the IT folks noticing that in real time and reacting.” With INETCO’s software, users are able to view transactions on a dashboard set-up that allows them to see, for example, a graph showing network-wide transaction flow broken down by approved, declined, failed and unsupported transactions. Users can subdivide their data according to taste by creating up to eight groups within each of the following: acquiring method, origin device and card issuer. Users can also define patterns and thresholds to trigger alerts. An alert may be deemed appropriate, for example, if there are more than five MasterCard declines in a five-minute period. A small bell symbol shows up on the dashboard views when a threshold is crossed, allowing the IT staff to drill down and look for specific causes. Of course, most IT employees don’t have the time to sit and stare at screens all day. So that’s where e-mail and pagers come in, Borbas says. “You might get a little e-mail that says that in store X … a couple of the lanes seem to be slower than usual …” Borbas says. “You log in and have a look and you are able to see the problem probably before anybody in that store even StORES notices it.” Rebecca Logan is a Fort Leavenworth, Kan.-based writer. STORES / JULY 2008 31 http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - July 2008

STORES Magazine - July 2008
Executive Editor's Page
President's Page
Dearth of Retail Creativity
What Shoppers Think
Wow, Is That a Wawa?
10 Things You May Have Missed
Numbers Worth Counting
Full Price/Markdown
Retail People
Merchandising Strategy
Point of Sale
Human Resources
Top 100 Retailers
Store Design
IT Operations
Systems Managements
LP Vantage Point
Cover Story
Emergency Response Systems
Background Checks
LOEB Retail Letter
Point of View
NRF News
Retail Crossword
Retail Industry Calendar
Last Laugh

STORES Magazine - July 2008