Gone are the days when a forecourt was a just place to fill up your tank – It has become so much more than just a gas station. The modern forecourts are now designed to compete with big convenience stores and quick-service restaurants. Only 19% of forecourt shoppers cite fuel as their main reason for visiting, forcing forecourt retailers to invest in their stores in order to make it an attractive destination for shoppers. Here are six of the biggest trends that are changing the gas station retail.
Forecourt as a convenient retail destination
Forecourts around the world have seen substantial growth in grocery and top-up shoppers. Forecourts are no longer just used for refueling purposes but consumers see it as a place to pick up lunchtime snacks or get dinner on their way back home. With the majority of shoppers visiting a forecourt by car, forecourts have the unique opportunity to tap into a customer segment that other convenience stores often can’t, due to the unavailability of parking space. One of the major reasons why consumers are opting to shop at forecourts rather than going to a supermarket is the reduced queuing time. It’s just so much faster and more convenient to shop in a forecourt.
With people only likely to become busier in the future, “grab and go” eating has become a major global trend. A number of forecourt retailers have started to experiment with small-format stores to use them as pick-up points for takeout orders. Because of low start-up costs and guaranteed foot traffic, it’s a no-brainer that gas station restaurants are poised to become the next big thing in this domain.
In 2020, it’s predicted that 98% of all new cars will offer Internet and car-to-car connectivity. According to a study by Visa from 2018, the 135 million US commuters spend more than USD 210 billion a year on gas, parking, food, coffee, and groceries as part of their drive to and from work. This trend presents a ton of opportunities to the forecourt retailers to provide a seamless end-to-end experience by accessing enormous amounts of data generated every minute by consumers. This sea of data can be leveraged to open doors to futuristic trends like analytics for customized services and promotions, pre-scheduled refueling based on usage and location, and connected stations.
Forecourts with Superchargers
Many countries around the globe are putting in place strategies to reduce and phase-out petrol and diesel cars by 2040. Additionally, awareness has been growing among consumers about issues related to global warming and climate change. In response, forecourt retailers are investing in solar energy and battery storage projects to change the gas station infrastructure with hydrogen dispensers and recharge points capable of providing electric vehicle owners with charging facilities. This will also inspire and push people to have the confidence to make the move to sustainable transport and publicly commit to the more conscious use of energy and materials.
Advancements made in the payment technology space have amplified the customer experience, driven loyalty, and boosted the overall success of the forecourt retail business. In-car payment technology is an exciting area of innovation and an amazing opportunity for retailers to optimize their business model. More and more retailers are deploying fuel payment systems that allow customers to pay for fuel and other products from the comfort of their car, with digital receipts and loyalty offers sent directly to the driver’s mobile device. Retailers need to keep adopting along with mobile payment evolution in order to provide seamless loyalty programs, create multi-brand offers, and provide contactless payment.
According to a survey by Accenture, 45% of fuel retailers expect their businesses to invest at least 20% more in digital technologies in the next three to five years. 66% of the respondents selected Data analytics as to the technology capable of driving the greatest performance impact for their business. Right now, most of the retailers follow a Hub-Spoke model where crucial decisions are made at the centralized head office. There is a greater need for decentralized decision making with individual stores having their own intelligence. For instance, an individual store should be able to place an order to the supplier in case of low inventory rather than waiting for the centralized system to do it on their behalf. Retailers can leverage predictive analytics to prevent downtime and dramatically improve forecourt efficiency and automate forecasts.
Sankey Solutions is a pioneer in architecting next-gen platforms in this domain having worked with some of the UK’s biggest forecourt retailers. Our real-time software solutions have allowed forecourt businesses to effortlessly combine retailing, food service, and pump control – all in one single gas station software helping them to get the most out of their forecourt operations. Our BI insights have delivered faster and more accurate information to decision-makers resulting in improved operational efficiency, improved customer satisfaction, and reduced costs.Find out more