Dispensing New Opportunities with Technology
By Scott Negley
As 2022 rolls around, it’s a disappointing reality that the COVID-19 pandemic is still a key driver of events around the world – and within our industry.
While businesses and consumer activity are rebounding (and even booming) in many sectors, the future remains uncertain due to new virus variations, possible travel restrictions and further supply chain disruptions.
Still, for fuel and convenience store operators, there are opportunities to shine, especially with the forecourt and fuel dispenser technology that you use to serve your customers. In a world where consumers value speed, convenience and safety more than ever, you can meet their changing needs and expectations with unique new products and services.
“As one of the biggest companies in the fueling industry, we work with retail and fueling businesses all over Canada,” said Dean Cirone, director of sales and marketing at Dover Fueling Solutions (DFS). “This puts us into a unique position to spot trends in the industry – and the shift we are seeing is a new focus on winning the forecourt consumer experience.”
So, what are the top new trends that are driving this transformation? Check them out below.
The focus on sustainability will increase
Consumer expectations are continuing to change and the convenience and carwash industries will be challenged to respond. Our friends to the south are embarking on a massive infrastructure spending project which strongly incentivizes clean energy investments – a trend that’s sure to influence Canadian markets as well.
Businesses are responding by turning necessity into opportunity. More and more retailers are installing electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions and charging stations, not only because their customers are asking for them, but also because they create new opportunities. Customers who are charging their vehicles are likely to visit your convenience store.
Your Forecourt Will Fuel Your Success
It’s now becoming clear to businesses that many of the consumer behaviors that were created by the pandemic might be here to stay. One of the most significant trends for our industry is the growing importance of the forecourt experience. Consumers who are hesitant to enter a store will, of course, prefer contactless shopping experiences, especially those that can occur right at the fuel pump.
“We’ve seen an enormous uptake in next-generation fueling forecourt technologies,” said Cirone. “Our customers are asking us for solutions to help them stand out from the crowd. They want to differentiate themselves from their competitors by offering a distinctly unique consumer experience at the pump – but they also see the urgency in creating new sales and promotional opportunities.”
To help businesses transform their at-the-pump experience, fuel pumps are now coming loaded with consumer-friendly features like giant high-resolution touchscreens that are controlled like a tablet. Personalized media, like sports scores, entertainment news and local traffic and weather, can be streamed in real-time. It’s now even possible to have your fuel pumps greet customers as they approach the pump.
Beyond the “wow” factor, these new technologies create new upsell and cross-promotion opportunities, from driving customers to the carwash to increasing enrollments in loyalty programs. At DFS, we have seen our clients use dispenser technology to transform their forecourt from a value-added element into the heart of their retail operation.
It will be easier to create new operational efficiencies
As you already know, efficiency is one of the biggest challenges in running fuel, retail or carwash operations. The good news is new technological solutions and products are now available that can help you gain almost unprecedented control over your entire operation, often from a single, real-time dashboard that you can access from any device.
For example, there are now forecourt solutions that allow you to connect your retail POS system and manage it in real-time. Wetstock management solutions can be managed in real-time, from an app that only takes seconds to begin using. Best of all, many of these solutions don’t require any infrastructure updates, since they can be delivered wirelessly and can be cloud-based. Businesses that move quickly to implement these solutions will gain an advantage over their competitors.
At DFS, we expect 2022 to be another challenging year for our industry. Uncertainties exist — but so do opportunities. Standing out from the crowd with a unique customer experience and brand differentiation will be more important than ever. Let technology help you seize the advantage! Contact Dover Fueling Solutions to learn more.
Scott Negley is senior director, product management – dispenser products and platforms, DFS.
Scott has been with Wayne Fueling Systems and DFS for over 35 years and has held roles in the engineering, product management and global business development functions. During his career, Scott has been directly involved in the development and market introduction of proportional blending technology, the iMeter and Xflo meter products, dispenser and payment electronics, vapor recovery solutions, user interface designs (including the Anthem UX User Experience Platform) and the Wayne Ovation and Helix model series. He is a frequent contributor to trade publications and is recognized for numerous patents in the industry. Scott holds a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Penn State University. He and his family live in Austin, Texas.
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