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The Sheetz ethic of “Total Customer Focus” is visible across all areas of its operations, extending to the broad choice of e-payments accepted for purchases, including credit cards, debit cards, fleet cards and its own gift cards. The need to handle these transactions reliably and quickly is a prime reason that the retailer depends on a fault-tolerant Stratus® ftServer® system running the ACI Retail Commerce Server™ payment processing application. Together, these systems switch EFT transactions to external networks for authorization and settlement.


At more than $2 billion in annual sales, family-owned Sheetz is watched closely by competitors, has been praised for “The Perfect Store” by CSP (Convenience Store/Petroleum) magazine and has risen to #109 on the 003 Forbes list of largest private companies in the U.S.


Non-cash payment options account for a growing share of the chain’s sales. “First and foremost, it’s about completing customer transactions. Sheetz stores are open and our pumps are on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” says Rich Steckroth, manager of business development and e-commerce at Sheetz. “The negative impact on customer service and revenue could be considerable if our EFT switching were interrupted during a peak period, which is why combining the ultra-reliable Stratus server with ACI’s proven Retail Commerce Server application has tremendous appeal.”


Designed for 99.999% and greater uptime, the Stratus ftServer system instantly affords the protection of faulttolerant computing to applications based on Microsoft® Windows® server operating systems. Sheetz is therefore able to run the Retail Commerce Server application on the Stratus server without special modifications to safeguard against downtime — such as modifying the application software or performing specialized system management — avoiding the complications and costs of using clustered servers or a proprietary fault-tolerant system.


“Deployment compared favorably with installing a conventional server. Everything has gone according to plan since then, which of course is important for this application,” says Pielmeier.

Since going live with the Stratus ftServer system, Sheetz has found managing the industry-standard server to be on a par with ordinary Windows servers that don’t offer as much uptime protection. Ease of day-to-day operation also frees up time for the IT staff so they can accomplish more. For a pacesetting c-store chain with the mission “to provide fast and friendly service, and quality products in clean and convenient locations,” flawless EFT is an essential part of the roadmap for success. 

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