In this progressively competitive market, there is an increasing pressure on fuel retailers to keep up to date with retailing trends. Upcoming technological advancements like autonomous vehicles could change the game entirely, and forecourt retailing needs to be able to adapt. Customer loyalty programs have never been more important. Retaining customers is much more time and cost effective, as well as being good for the brand image.
A bad customer experience can make or break a business in this era of digitisation. Loyalty technology has taken off; people want to feel like they’re saving money without any fuss. The data on offer from loyalty technology allows companies to tailor customer experience, and meet demands in advance. Some of the most exciting digital retailing trends in the forecourt include:
Connectivity between devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) is something that fuel retailers can’t afford to be uneducated about. As cars are becoming more like computers, they are in discussion with more networks than ever. It is predicted that there will be 40m cars on the roads by 2030 that are connected to service providers for one thing or another.
GPS is becoming equipped with technology that chooses your refuelling station for you and allows you to pre-order food, is making impulse purchasing obsolete. People can check your loyalty offers before they even leave home. It is important that in this huge network of information, customer relationships remain paramount.
Similar to connectivity, Artificial Intelligence is having a large input in forecourt sector trends. Automated pumps are already a given at this stage, but the more machine learning that is available to customers, the easier their fuel retailer experience. Robotic Process Automation is commonplace also, which combines loyalty systems with payment systems.
New developments in robotics that are being trailed currently are home delivery options for fuel, as well as robotic fuelling devices. While these may seem like futuristic solutions, they are already in their pilot stage.
The cloud offers a range of helpful information to the consumer. The big data collection that is available as a result of loyalty programs allows the forecourt sector to have real-time information for consumers. It also adds to the ease of customer experience as software updates can be carried out with the customer needing to engage.
This immediate connection with the consumer helps to gather the customer’s insights and preferences. Technology is providing the innovative foundation that fuel retailing needs as it develops in the 21st century.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
APIs are an extremely exciting and important development as they allow companies to share software, applications and platforms with one another. This sharing of information allows companies to have a full picture of what the consumers wants. An example of this is a partnership between car manufacturers and supermarkets.
This kind of business relationship could allow produce to be ordered from the car and collected at the supermarket. Mobile technology allows customers to engage with your company when they are not in store; expanding your marketplace to anywhere in the world. APIs allow customers to get the service they’ve come to expect by helping predict patterns and preferences.