WASHINGTON — Since its founding in 1993, ARTS (the Association for Retail Technology Standards) has catered more to the general merchandise and specialty side of the retail business, as well as to retail technology vendors.
However, ARTS, which became a division of the National Retail Federation here in 1999, has now captured the attention of major food retailers. “The last few years we've had more grocers join ARTS,” said Richard Mader, the executive director of the group, which is dedicated to developing open standards that help retailers integrate their myriad technology applications.
The roster of food retail companies in ARTS now includes Ahold USA, BJ's Wholesale Club, A&P, Kroger, Publix, Raley's, Safeway, Target and Tesco. Kroger and BJ's also sit on the ARTS board.
The essence of ARTS' mission, as described on its website (www.nrf-arts.org), is to produce standards that will enable retailers “to purchase the best software [and hardware] available on the market and to be able to plug it into their store systems environment without fear of incompatibility or delay.”
To date ARTS has developed four primary standards:
The Retail Data Model: Provides a detailed design, including specific data definitions, for a database — regardless of vendor — that can support retail operations such as POS and customer relationship marketing.
XML Schemas: Data formatting and messaging standards that allow specific data — such as POS, customer and price — to be transmitted between applications.
Unified Point of Service: Device interface standards that allow retailers to add new devices and peripherals to their POS systems with minimal or no program changes.
Requests for Proposal: Guidelines for retailer requests for proposals to technology suppliers of POS, workforce management, loss prevention, signature capture/debit, warehouse management, price optimization and master data management solutions.