Before COVID, fuel retailers and C-stores had been using retail technology to improve their services and offer more convenience to consumers. Once the pandemic struck, the use of retail technology in the retail fuel market skyrocketed. Today, implementing retail technology is crucial for any fuel retailer or C-store that wants to future-proof their business.
What Retail Technology Should Fuel Stations Offer?
Retail technology is a broad term that includes any digital tools or innovations that retailers use to improve their businesses. For C-stores and fuel retailers in particular, which have always focused on consumer convenience, retail technology is an incredibly powerful tool.
Here are five ways fuel stations and C-stores can use retail technology to create an improved customer experience and more efficient daily operations:
1. Contactless payments
Most consumers today prefer contactless, touchless payments, or they at least want the option. There are many ways to offer contactless payments on-site, including cashierless checkouts, self-checkouts, mobile POS, QR codes, self-service kiosks, and more. And there’s no question that C-stores must adopt all or at least some of these methods in order to retain and attract customers.
2. On-site and off-site convenience
Consumers should be able to go into a store and enjoy a comfortable experience (including contactless payments), but they should also be able to place orders online or on mobile and receive deliveries. 7-Eleven also offers a pick-up option, which allows customers to order and pay for items on an app, and then go to the store and pick up their orders hassle-free.
Some retail technology tools focus on direct convenience to the consumer via payment methods, deliveries, etc. Other tools focus on making life easier for the store owner/manager so that they can spend their time (and money) on other things. Automation falls into the latter category. AI, robotics, and IoT are crucial tools that can be used to automate both minor and major aspects of business operations.
- AI-based inventory management can save time and money, freeing up staff to focus on other important things like marketing strategies and customer retention.
- Electronic shelf labels (ESL) show consumers the cost of each product. Unlike sticker labels, they are electronic and can be updated automatically when prices change. This saves time and manpower, and results in real-time updates of prices with no delay. According to Global Market Insights, the ESL market is predicted to hit $1 billion by the year 2024.
- Data collection and analysis can help retailers gain a competitive edge by understanding what their customers, as individuals, want. This can help create a customized buyer journey in which each customer is marketed to on an individual level. AI and machine learning algorithms can make the task of data collection quick and easy — your job will be interpreting the data you receive. Another way retailers can use data analytics is to improve the management and cost predictions of the store.
- Indoor asset tracking is based in IoT technology. It allows retailers to track items and products in their store, which can enable more insight into and control over the supply chain. According to Business Wire, the asset tracking/inventory management industry was estimated at $13.3 billion in 2020 and is predicted to reach $30 billion by 2027.
4. Agile marketing strategies
Retail technology, with all its digital tools and automation options, is not meant to replace physical stores but to enhance them. Toward this end, data from physical locations and online/mobile apps should be consolidated, not analyzed separately. An agile marketing strategy that uses the physical store and digital options to create a unified view of the customer is more likely to be successful.
With so much happening in the digital arena, including on the cloud and IoT, having a reliable, efficient cybersecurity solution in place is essential. Without it, there can be no trust between the consumer and the retailer. With it, consumers can feel safe, secure, and not hesitate to make purchases online or through cashless payment methods in-person.
Don’t Let Your Fuel Station Get Left in the Dust — Create Future Success with Retail Technology
While advancements in retail technology might be intimidating for fuel station owners, especially those who have been operating for decades, they can actually open up many more possibilities. Retail strategy used to be limited by the actual space of a store, but today’s technology can expand retail options beyond the store’s physical limitations. The potential is enormous.
Passport X is a straightforward, comprehensive solution that can help fuel station and C-store owners implement retail technology. It includes frictionless payment options, self-service kiosks, mobile POS, delivery and/or curbside pickup, loyalty and rewards programs, and much more.
Damian Scalerandi of the Forbes Business Council has called 2021 a “pivotal year for retail.” Now is the time to make the changes that will drive the future success of your company.
We can help — contact us for more information about Passport X.