The recently formed Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) European Technology Council is on a mission to recruit the IT top brass among European retailers.

ARTS argues that retailers spend 35 per cent to 40 per cent of the cost of a project on integrating software applications. These costs could be reduced if retailers collectively agree on IT standards.

ARTS, which has its origins in the US National Retail Federation (NRF), wants to become the forum where retailers can agree on IT standards.

Retailers that have already signed up since the recruitment drive started in February include El Corte Ingles, House of Fraser, Harrods, Dixons, Waitrose and Reebok.

ARTS hopes Tesco, B&Q, Duty Free, KarstadtQuelle, Asda, Budgens and other retailers will join.

‘The interest level is excellent, but there is always competition for the time and attention of IT directors,’ said ARTS executive director Richard Mader. ‘Membership involves agreeing to attend quarterly dinner meetings and becoming a member of either ARTS or NRF.

‘It is very important to have the major retailers on board. First, they can provide direction on future standards and share information to assist smaller retailers that do not have the same level of R&D. Second, they drive the adoption and implementation of standards by insisting on them at time of purchase,’ he explains.

House of Fraser director of systems development Mike Hiscock is a member of ARTS. He says the biggest commitment is time.

Hiscock is particularly keen to push forward with standards for data modelling and Web services. In basic terms, data modelling is concerned with the design of IT systems, while Web service governs how retailers’ and suppliers’ systems communicate over the Internet.

As part of the ARTS drive to raise awareness, Hiscock and Harrods head of IT Massimo Franzese will be among those presenting papers at the Retail Technology Summit on October 7 at The Waldorf Hilton in London.