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The Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) of the National Retail Federation is an international membership organization dedicated to reducing the costs of technology through standards. It’s been delivering application standards exclusively to the retail industry since 1993. The organization is open to all members of the international technology community–retailers from all industry segments, application developers and hardware companies.

In the second of a two-part interview, GlobeSt.com talked to ARTS executive director Richard Mader about the effects technology has had on retail and the progress the group is having creating standards to keep up with it.

GlobeSt.com: How have retail technologies changed since ARTS was founded in 1993? How are these changes impacting the need for technology standards?

Mader: In 1993, new, smaller computers were enabling retailers to implement store level applications. Servers and desktops were not common terms, DOS was the only PC operating system and the Internet was confined to colleges and the government. The first ARTS standards Data Model and UnifiedPOS enabled retailers to choose applications such as price lookup, layaway, ticket printing, etc. for vendors other than their POS provider and to purchase MSR, check readers, customer displays and other devices from a variety of vendors. Also in 1993 most retailers developed their own application for operation on a central host computer.

Today the Internet is everywhere, and it is based on open standards. Most applications are purchased and need to be integrated with applications from other vendors. The Internet and open systems proved that standards worked and are reliable. Integration became the most expensive part of IT projects, so the ARTS Data Model and particularly our 17 XML schemas to link applications are very much in demand.

GlobeSt.com: In January, ARTS announced the release of version 6.0 of the standard Retail Data Model, along with an accompanying Data Dictionary. I understand this version was in development about two years and included more than 100 enhancements. What would you describe as the most important changes in this model of the standard?

Mader: There are a number of them:

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