New POS Component Keeps VAR In Business
After learning the fate of the ISA (industry standard architecture) card, this convenience store VAR switched to PCI (peripheral component interconnect) multiport serial cards. A successful initial install has led to 40 more.
When PC manufacturers announced ISA (industry standard architecture) slots would no longer be produced, ISA card users like Wane MSI (Highlands Ranch, CO), a provider of POS (point of sale) terminals and systems to gas stations and convenience stores (C-stores), had a tough decision to make. MSI could find a new vendor that makes a PCI (peripheral component interconnect) multiport serial card, or go out of business. So the company brought in five different card models. Because MSI uses a DOS-based system, the multiport card had to interface with its serial drivers. The company needed to be confident that replacing the original ISA card with a PCI card would not impede the reliability of its proprietary system. MSI ultimately chose Comtrol Corp.'s RocketPort PCI 550 Octa. A successful initial installation in a C-store using this PCI card has allowed MSI to successfully complete 40 more installations.
Replacing System Components While Maintaining Reliability
In 2001, a 125,000-square-foot C-store with over 12 fueling points and 3 registers was looking to upgrade its POS system. Debit transaction and bar code scanning capabilities had to be implemented. Also, the fuel ports, POS systems, car wash, and back office PC had to be connected. These components had to be working efficiently for the C-store to operate business.
MSI was already testing its POS system using Comtrol's RocketPort PCI 550 Octa card and was happy with the lab results. But John Burdick, director of customer services at MSI, did not want to install a system that might not meet the C-store's standards. "The system using the PCI card went through QA (quality assurance) and engineering. It received the go-ahead from everyone, but I still felt some apprehension. If I had a dollar for every time something works in the lab but doesn't work in the field, I could retire," says Burdick. That apprehension diminished upon the outcome of this initial install.
At this particular install, the C-store chose MSI because of the company's track record with its former ISA card system. After a 10-week sales cycle, MSI installed three Axiohm A794 receipt printers, Symbol's LS9100 bar code scanners, Ultimate Technology Corporation PD1100 pole displays, Verifone 1000 PIN pads, and Comtrol's RocketPort PCI 550 Octa integrated into a Dell PC with an Ultimate Technology keyboard.
Steadfast System Leads To 40 More Installs
Replacing the ISA cards meant MSI had to convince the C-store its system could still be relied upon to operate in an environment where multiple points of interaction had to be connected. "Our biggest challenge was to make sure this system worked the way we advertised it. If there was a problem, we needed to know the source immediately, without the added stress of whether or not there was a glitch in the new cards," comments Burdick. He points to the instant success at the initial C-store application to illustrate the ease of integration. "The great thing about this install was we put the PCI card in all three registers, hooked up the LAN, and configured the software; it took off and ran. We did not have a single card issue with this installation," comments Burdick. "We look to answer the question, 'Can I integrate this particular component, running any configuration of our software, and have it work?'" Burdick now answers that question with a "yes".
By implementing this system, the C-store gained the ability to scan and incorporate price book control that yielded a reduction in shrink. With this system, the C-store has the capability to track inventory while having access to every item in the store and its price. This saves time when it comes to a price change or an inventory lookup. Better inventory control means a reduction in shrink. According to Burdick, the C-store now can track what was sold and the time of the sale. This information provides store managers with control over inventory. This reduction will result in the full payment of the system MSI installed within three years. Also, the store now has the ability to process debit transactions. Since this installation, MSI has installed 40 more systems using the PCI card.