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Advantage Puts Wine Sales on ICE

Advantage Completes Successful Pilot for New Generation Terminals

Auckland – 20 June 2000 – Advantage Group Limited (NZSE: ADV) is set to launch a next generation Internet-enabled point-of-sale terminal, replacing ageing EFTPOS terminals in New Zealand retail outlets.

The graphical, Internet-enabled Hypercom ICE terminal, certified by ETSL, has successfully completed a pilot programme in a busy Auckland wine business. The pilot, the final step before ICE’s release to the New Zealand market, has proven its stability during network operation. This clears the way for a full commercial launch in July, targeting New Zealand’s current installed base of 70,000 terminals.

“Advantage has a huge depth of knowledge about electronic payments, as it developed and supplied the majority of New Zealand’s networked electronic point of sale infrastructure, including over 60 percent of today’s entire installed base,” says Advantage Point of Sale (POS) General Manager, John Tait.

“The challenge now is to bring e-commerce and Internet capabilities to that market, building on our knowledge of merchant requirements and developing in-demand applications to offer on the forthcoming ICE terminal platform.”

“Through ICE, Advantage will bring a new e-commerce framework for delivering Internet-based, value-added applications and hosting services to the merchant countertop. ICE harnesses the power of the Internet and delivers rich new capabilities previously not available to the vast majority of retailers – capabilities such as branded receipts and terminal-based advertising and promotions. The benefits that flow from these include the ability to increase revenues and cut costs.”

The new terminals are expected to effect a radical transformation in the established electronic payments market.

“The electronic payments market has been stable, and hardware-based, for almost a decade,” says Tait. “The coming availability of a rich variety of applications delivered to retailers through their POS terminals means that the POS business model will shift from a hardware rental model to a service-based model.

“ICE 5000 is the most technically-advanced, easy-to-use and value-packed electronic transaction terminal available. It’s flexible and economical and will allow merchants to draw customers to their on-line sites and advertise special promotional offers to them. Its touch screen, graphic display technology enables merchants to access a range of services including on-screen advertising and e-commerce functions. These capabilities in turn increase retailers’ revenues, improve service and create new revenue streams for processors and banks. ICE will enable any New Zealand retailer to become an e-business company with a minimum of risk and investment.

“Through ICE terminals, Advantage will link merchants and business owners to the most powerful network in the world – the Internet. And we can do that in a form that already operates successfully in their business: using card-based electronic commerce POS equipment. With ICE, the humble point of sale terminal is transformed into a multi-application interactive platform that uses the power and scale of the Internet.”

With the forthcoming ability of a web-enabled terminal, retailers will, in future, be able to tend their online stores, adjust inventory, change prices or make special offers – in addition to the everyday EFTPOS or credit card and receipt processing operations.

“The ICE terminal is simply more convenient than any other terminal we’ve seen,” says Jeff Poole, Managing Director, The Fine Wine Delivery Company. “It has a large, clear screen, our customers receive more professional-looking receipts, it’s easy to keep and very easy to use. Having only one machine, rather than two parts, keeps our sales counter clean. We’re able to brand our receipts at the top and bottom, so that every customer takes away a record of our logo, contact details and web address. And the quiet thermal printer is a bonus for our customers.”

“ICE terminals extend the standard range of debit, credit, cheque and EFT functions, by bringing valuable new capabilities and incremental revenues to the retail counter,” adds Tait. “The average customer spends around two and a half minutes waiting for goods to be scanned and packaged, and this equates to a captive audience receptive to specific targeted terminal-based advertising during this time. Moreover, every customer takes a receipt with them from every transaction, which provides an ideal opportunity for retailers to reinforce branding and advertise to consumers already disposed towards purchasing from them.”

Leading Technology Developed in New Zealand

The ICE hardware and base is provided by Advantage’s partner Hypercom; Advantage produces the software that enables these terminals to operate in the New Zealand environment. Once retailers purchase an ICE terminal, Advantage engineers can programme the graphics and logos into the ICE software.

ICE terminals have a secure PIN pad and are equipped with a fast-training 9600 bps (bits per second) modem, and will also run on network standard 1200 bps modems. Packed with value-added features, ICE 5000 terminal platforms form a multi-function payment system incorporating high-speed communications using modem technology and screen-based operation to support customer-activated transactions, a trend which will grow with the use of multifunction stored value cards.

ICE transforms the traditional point-of-sale transaction terminal into an information delivery platform, e-commerce access point and narrowcast consumer advertising. It facilitates interactive payment, promotional transactions and information through a consumer operated touchscreen. The terminals are used as the merchant’s e-commerce access point, eliminating the need for costly, complex and difficult to support PCs.

“For most New Zealand retailers, the Internet and e-commerce is the most cost effective opportunity to expand and grow revenues. However, most retailers don’t want to invest in a PC and the training and support for its operation.

“There are two reason why merchants will continue to use payments terminals at the point of sale despite the growing integration of PCs into retail,” adds Tait.

“Firstly, there’s the need for a cardholder interface terminal. The terminal is used for PIN entry, and other cardholder-activated functions. Secondly, many merchants simply don’t want a PC on the counter. The ICE terminal can support all the related functions that a PC performs, such as supply ordering, banking and so on.”

Availability

ICE terminals will be available at the end of July and will be sold at a rate competitive compared with other terminals on the market.

About Advantage

Advantage Group Limited, an NZSE listed company, is a leading supplier of e-commerce and transaction processing solutions in New Zealand, Australia and throughout the southern hemisphere. The company has three business units: point-of-sale equipment, retail solutions and business-to-business e-commerce. Advantage provides hardware, software, transaction processing and funds transfer capabilities to enable complete e-commerce solutions.

About The Fine Wine Delivery Company

Auckland-based business The Fine Wine Delivery Company aims to sell the best wines at the best possible prices and deliver them in the shortest possible time. As a truly independent family wine business, they only buy wines they collectively believe are of good quality and value, which means they never have to sell a bad wine! The Fine Wine Delivery Company trades online at www.finewineonline.co.nz, which is a natural and logical extension of their considerable experience in mail order and direct marketing. With over 45 years collective experience in the wine trade, their experience and independence means they offer their customers sound and genuine advice when making their wine buying decisions.

ENDS

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