The 10th bi-annual Parent Petroleum Dealer Business Forum kicked off in Lisle, Ill. at the Sheraton Hotel, Friday, May 17. The forum began with a thought leadership event in the morning, followed by a buffet lunch and afternoon trade show.
The event, which drew 250 attendees and 40 exhibitors, is designed for Parent Petroleum dealers and aims to supply resources and tools to help them remain competitive as the c-store industry evolves.
“At Parent Petroleum, we’re more than just a fuel supplier. We’re committed to the success of our customers’ businesses and the communities in which they operate,” said Ryan Fuelling, president and chief financial officer, Parent Petroleum Inc.
“For us, we take that partnership to heart. Beyond simply branding a customer’s station, we strive to ensure they have the tools they need to continue to operate a successful business in a dynamic and evolving industry.”
“With our guest speakers, we aim for our customers to walk away with new and innovative information that is easily actioned in their respective businesses, or will provide insight into changing trends,” Fuelling said. “Beyond the thought leadership component, we host a trade show so that they — our customers — have the ability to forge partnerships with a variety of industry vendors, all with the goal of continuing to enhance their business.”
Brian Milne, energy editor and product manager with DTN started off the morning with an update into the current state of the industry, including the economy’s effects on the c-store business, the latest developments in alternative fuels and the impact to consumer behaviors and the c-store business.
Milne noted that gas demand is weakening/plateauing despite a strong economy and low unemployment as fuel efficiency takes hold. Young adults are also driving later due to the costs involved, including vehicle, car repair and insurance costs; fees for driving schools, which are no longer free; and student loan debt. Meanwhile, the ability to connect via social media or travel using Uber and Lyft offer alternatives to driving. At the same time, vehicles are becoming more fuel efficient. He expects to see an increase in premium gasoline sales as newer vehicles arrive and customers demand more of a premium for those cars.
Terry Mahoney of W.Capra, and the co-chair of the Petrol Working Committee at the U.S. Payment Forum, offered guidance into achieving EMV compliance ahead of the fall deadline.
Mahoney pointed out several EMV misconceptions that exist. For example, EMV doesn’t reduce the likelihood of a data breach, nor does it encrypt the card number. It is not the same as chip and pin in the U.S. He noted the first iteration in the U.S. was chip/signature, but we’re going to see more people being asked for their PIN in the future.
While rumors abound that the October 2020 EMV compliance date for the fuel pump may be pushed back again, card brands are saying the October 2020 deadline is going to stick.
Mahoney noted EMV isn’t a mandate like PCI. “Card brands say (retailers) don’t have to do EMV compliance, but every time there is a fraudulent transaction at your site (they’re) going to charge that back to your business. Currently the issuing bank pays those card transactions, but in 2020 that’s going to change.”
Mahoney outlined keys to EMV success. Among other strategies, c-store retailers should stay in touch with their fuel brands, which have different timelines, incentives and penalties when it comes to EMV compliance.
Fuel dealers should activate zip code prompting at high chargeback sites and install security cameras on the forecourt with a clear view of the pump, he noted.
John Matthews, president & CEO of Gray Cat Enterprises, offered thoughts on c-store industry evolution from foodservice to frictionless checkout, and marketing initiatives that lend themselves to both single and multi-store operations.
“We are now evolving and blurring the lines to where we have a half-dozen of our c-store chains on Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 100 restaurant chains of the U.S.” Matthews said, … including Wawa, Sheetz, Casey’s, 7-Eleven and Circle K.
Customer demands are also shifting with customers looking for experiences, not just transactions. Shoppers want tailored solutions. Customers are looking at the visual experience of the c-store, as well as the verbal experience in terms of how retailers communicate, and the behavioral experience — how do retailers act?
Matthews outlined how operators can develop an experiences action plan.
He noted, the more technology comes into play, the quicker c-stores are going to have to react to changes in the industry.
Parent Petroleum announced six winners of excellence awards for best consecutive image score, including BP Golf and Meachum, BP Wash & Go, Chemung Country Mart, S. Main Marathon, Mr. A’s Elgin CITGO and Addison Mini Mart Gas.
Irving & Clark Mobil received the Best Restroom Golden Plunger Award.
Parent Petroleum also recognized those in the audience that have had relationships with Parent Petroleum for 10-20 years.
“We are committed to your success and helping you however we can,” Fuelling said.