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A major effort began almost 17 years ago in the retail industry to make it less expensive and less difficult to deploy new technology in stores and at the retail enterprise level. This effort is called the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS). ARTS is attempting to address problems that have plagued the retail industry since computers were first introduced as store systems. The chronic problems ARTS is addressing are related to the extreme difficulties encountered when new software or hardware is introduced into your stores.
All top-level executives in retail organizations need to be aware of this effort, because although dealing with technology standards, the long-range effects will be significant to the industry and strategic in scope. Fundamentally, this is a business issue, not a technology issue.

As new software applications, such as time & attendance, labor scheduling, and POS transactions, just to mention a few, are introduced into the store environment, it takes a disproportionate amount of time and effort to integrate them with existing store applications. These integration projects can add up to 50 percent to the time needed to implement a new software application and contribute significantly to the cost of the overall project, particularly if a systems integrator is called in. This has been the reality that all retailers have had to live with over the last two decades. The effect of the environment has not only been to increase costs, but also to limit retailers' ability to implement change and the speed with which they can do so.

This is why ARTS is so important at this time. ARTS' vision is one in which retailers will be able to purchase the best software available on the market and to be able to plug it into their store systems environment without fear of incompatibility or delay due to programming changes. The key to addressing these chronic problems of incompatibility is through the development of standards for software and hardware interoperability tailored to the Retail industry.