By Kendra Keller, Vice President and General Manager, North America, Dover Fueling Solutions & Scott Negley, Senior Director of Product Management, Dover Fueling Solutions
Our industry doesn’t have a longstanding reputation for leading digital transformation and advances toward clean energy. That window is opening at an accelerating pace.
Consumers expect improved sustainability. They demand customized experiences and stronger use of technology. At the same time, competition remains fierce. Stand at any four-way intersection and look around; you’ll see just how many choices they have when it comes to fueling. If you want to ensure your site is the one they select, you must stand out. Here are four points to consider when planning your own tech investments:
1) New-age needs are driven by limited time, plus limitless options
“Experience” is the buzzword of the decade, and with reason. Consumers understand the power their dollar yields in a high competition market, and they aren’t willing to give it to just any brand. According to NACS data, 74 percent say they’ll drive up to an additional five minutes to reach their forecourt of choice.
Customers are increasingly seeking connection with brands, including elevated purchase experiences and seamless payment options. This doesn’t stop on the forecourt, and time limits don’t have to be a revenue killer. The DFS Anthem UX™ user experience platform enables highly customizable content and promotions at the dispenser, bringing store to customer. Sites using Anthem UX platform report increased cross-sell, upsell, and loyalty program participation year-over-year.
Good customer experiences can weather economic volatility. 2022 has proven the instability of fuel pricing; yet travel has increased as we recover from pandemic closures and return to commuting. That combination is an opportunity for fuel retailers investing in improved customer solutions to get ahead.
2) Security extends across, below, and above the forecourt
Wetstock and dispenser monitoring have progressed to deliver a truly frictionless experience for both site managers and customers. Cloud-enabled solutions supported by advanced analytics and IoT are moving us closer to a norm of 24/7 surveillance and immediate alerts for everything from tank leaks and pump malfunctions to meter discrepancies and dispenser outages. All of these allow for resource optimization and stronger ROI.
Meanwhile, the unique outdoor structure of a fueling station puts it at higher security risk than retail systems locked behind doors. It’s imperative to protect both customer and business-sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands, and a secure managed network will do just that. As options grow to connect stores and fuel dispensers for streamlined customer experience, secure wired or wireless networks capable of transmitting larger media packages offer bigger reward potential for site owners.
3) Your customers want sustainability, and that’s good
Consumers are looking for eco-friendly and cost-effective fuel alternatives, and scientific advancements are bringing us cleaner fueling options. While this can be scary for a retail business built on gasoline and diesel sales, it’s important to view fuel type expansion as an opportunity to stand out by delivering on customer needs. DFS is dedicated to helping deliver more environmentally friendly means for powering vehicles – investing in development of products and solutions to support clean fuels including LNG, H2, CNG and electricity, alongside producing conventional fuel dispensers with lower environmental impact.
Increased production of electric vehicles (EV) and implementation of national charging network standards are expected to accelerate EV adoption. Drivers already associate fuel station stop-offs as essential to keeping them moving, making EV chargers on the forecourt a natural mental shift. Site owners gain the chance to engage those customers for upwards of 30 minutes in one visit, a big potential for revenue and loyalty acquisition/retention.
Government legislation and funding are strengthening initiatives toward clean energy expansion. The $7.5 billion National EV Infrastructure (NEVI) formula program supports state-run plans for public-use charger installation across U.S. corridors and in underserved rural areas. An additional $100 million Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) grant aims to increase use of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel derived from agricultural products. These and other programs will help accelerate use of alternative fuel and clean energy nationwide.
4) You don’t have to implement every forecourt solution at once
As more solutions come to market, it can be challenging to decide where to invest in upgrades or how much to spend before your ROI begins to dip. Integrating even a portion of what’s available in forecourt tech helps position your brand as modern and innovative. This comes down to knowing as much as you can about your customer base and local market. Decide which products and solutions are bound to address most of your needs and drive loyalty among current customers.
Your customers’ most consistent point of contact is the fueling dispenser, so leverage that opportunity to build loyalty and begin pulling them toward store and specialty services. Interactive dispensers can seamlessly connect and promote all your offerings in one location. Contactless payment, personalized advertisements and engaging or educational content on one sleek-looking screen improves customer experience and capitalizes on the time spent refueling.
Technology on the forecourt is pushing us toward the front of the pack when it comes to industry evolution. Adopters who learn to embrace and leverage these solutions to connect with customers and streamline their operations will be the brands that thrive.
Sponsored content by Dover Fueling Systems