NACS Chairman Jeff Miller Urges Advocacy

Approximately $3.2 million dollars. That’s the savings thus far to the convenience and fuels retailing industry and their customers since the Durbin amendment took effect just yesterday, said NACS Chairman Jeff Miller during the NACS Show Opening General Session.

Miller, who is president of Norfolk, Va.-based Miller Oil Co., said that the swipe fee reform central to the Durbin Amendment, was the “biggest legislative victory in [our industry’s] history.

Not only will the industry and its customers see $830 million is savings because of swipe fee reform, the victory “showed what happens when we come together and we speak with one voice,” said Miller.

“It was something no one outside our industry thought would ever happen. But we thought that it could happen. We fought together. And we won together,” said Miller.

Reading from a news report about the swipe fee fight, Miller continued: “Big banks have not lost many legislative fights in Washington…Wall Street can beat almost anyone in a legislative brawl but it cannot defeat the entire American retail industry,”

“Let me summarize that,” he said. “We came together. And we kicked ass.”

NACS delivers tremendous value in advocacy and in sharing new ideas that can grow your business, noted Miller, and discussed two big trends that he sees as huge opportunities for our industry: globalization and technology.

There are very few unique regional or country-specific issues, noted Miller. Instead, at any moment in time, retailers experience a different phase in the life cycle of each issue.

Rapid payments systems are already in their second decade in Asia, but are just taking hold in Latin America. In Europe, food safety is mature, while it’s just emerging in South Africa. In the U.S. pay-at-the pump is a given, and that is becoming more common in other countries. And tobacco regulation has already led to drastic changes in how retailers sell or even display tobacco in Thailand, Australia and Canada.

Miller said he advises retailers to look at their customers and employees to take note of the diverse themes and cultures.

“It’s more important now than ever before that NACS is engaged globally to learn how retailers in other markets have effectively — and sometimes ineffectively — dealt with issues that are headed our way,” said Miller.  “Then we can help adapt those learnings to your local markets. But learning about other cultures, or other ways of doing things, isn’t limited to seeing what is in other countries. It’s everywhere around you.”

Embracing Technology
A second huge trend is the personalization of technology such as the Internet. “Who thinks that we are immune from its repercussions because no one goes online to buy a drink? Or a hot dog? Or a fill up?” asked Miller.

“Competition may not be selling physical gallons over the Internet, but I can guarantee you the Internet has impacted your gas sales.”

NACS has made major long-term commitments to help members stay ahead of the technology wave.

“We have created new efficiencies of scale when none existed. And our expertise in technology and standards has been enormously important in our swipe fee battle. I can honestly say that our technology initiatives of the past decade have made an impact that is in the billions of dollars. All coming from an industry that was less than half a billion dollars just 50 years ago,” said Miller.

Miller closed by encouraging everyone to get involved with advocacy.

“It is really about defining our future and standing up for what’s right for our industry. We did that with swipe fees. And we need to do it for many more issues,” said Miller.

Miller cited credit card reform, PCI compliance, menu labeling, tobacco regulations “and taxes, regulations, taxes and regulations, and, yes, more taxes and more regulations.”

“We had a remarkable victory over the banks and our members got one hell of a return,” Miller said. “Ten years of hard work, perseverance, and funding is reaping an $830-million-per-year reward. But I truly believe we have barely cracked the seal on what is possible, especially when we come together, work hard and speak with one voice loud and clear. We’ve built great momentum, but to move it up to the next level, we need all of you to get engaged with NACS.”

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