Key trends in the Forecourt industry and how technology can deliver solutions
Below we highlight the key trends in the forecourt industry like autonomous vehicles, convenience retail, consumer expectations and how using integrated loyalty software can help businesses prepare for the future.
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.
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:
While not commonplace yet, autonomous vehicles are certainly emerging as a technology that will no doubt gather mainstream adoption in the coming years. 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. In an autonomous vehicle, the driver is free to browse online so ensuring good online user experience will be paramount to forecourt and service stations. Some cars can even choose a fuelling station for the driver and allow the driver to order ahead. Honda, Visa and Gilbarco Veeder-Root are currently developing an in-vehicle payment system which they previewed last month. Another method to speed up payment is mobile tills which can be wheeled out at busy times. Service stations will have to ensure a good loyalty program with excellent online connectivity is in place before this era of autonomous driving comes around.
Traditionally, the fuel retail sector is price sensitive and the lowest price wins out when it comes to fuel providers. However, the shift from products like fuel towards services like food and coffee offerings are going to change this tradition and forecourts will have to focus heavily on customer experience to remain competitive. Including services like play areas for children, office meeting space, parcel motels and laundry services for commuters will become crucial, particularly for motorway locations. Employing an effective loyalty program with the aim of delivering a compelling customer experience will ensure footfall and encourage spending at fuel retailing stores.
Once the consumer is incentivised to your franchise, your convenience food offering comes into play. Fuel retail outlets cater to a range of audiences. To make the most out of the footfall, c-stores need to prepare their stores with promotions. This begins by optimising their loyalty program and using integrated loyalty technology to capture valuable data.
The consumer mindset is becoming ever more health conscious and time conscious. Consumers are now holding brands to higher expectations with regard to ensuring a healthy option in terms of food, drink and even a calm seating area for people to relax and remove themselves from their busy work schedules for the duration of their lunch or break. Many service stations now partner with sandwich outlets such as Subway to provide these things to the customer which ensures a positive experience and incentivizes return visits and brand loyalty.
Convenience retailers and in particular, fuel retailers, need to be conscious of the busy commuter to whom, time is most precious. It has been noted that as many as 7 in 10 UK shoppers will abandon a purchase at a convenience store if the queue is too long or not moving quickly. This reinforces the need to address the customer’s need for efficiency and can be the sole reason the busy commuter’s loyalty is swayed to one brand and not another.