The oil and gas retail industry is rife with competition. From ultra-personalized promotions, dynamic pricing, omni-channel ecommerce, customer loyalty programs, the industry is constantly identifying new ways to bring value to the end consumer. But this competition isn’t just coming from other O&G companies. Consumers are now being groomed by their experiences with companies in what used to be considered unrelated industries. Now, consumers’ expectations are being shaped by their experiences at the bank, coffee shop, mall, or even while booking a taxi. They are increasingly making purchases for physical products from virtual locations as online retail sales in the US grew from 1.4% of overall retails sales in 2001 to 14% in 2017. As consumers diversify the methods with which they make payments, retailers must change the way they are tracking and enabling their sales.
Before consumers arrive at the forecourt to fuel up, they want to know how many fuel bays are open or the possible wait time. Another consumer wants to know what promotions, deals or coupons will be awarded to him to leverage for additional purchases via his loyalty program. According to Forrester, 67% of US online adults who have used "buy online, pick up in-store" expect to receive a notification that their orders are ready for pickup within 2 hours of placing the order1 . These trends and use cases and several others have retail businesses brainstorming to determine how we can leverage digital experiences and technology to address an ever changing market.
One key link in the retail value chain is the POS (Point of Sale). Traditional POS systems are essentially becoming obsolete due to a lack of connectivity or integration between other retail outlets, back office systems, customer relationship management software, rewards programs, and little to no visibility of real-time purchase data, hindering fuel retail businesses from getting a full 360-degree view of their customers or make quick inventory decisions.
Large to mid-size retail businesses with outlets spread across the US and around the globe need to develop and integrate unified POS systems that are device agnostic and integrate into other sales, accounting, and inventory management systems. This will provide a centralized, holistic view of consumer spending particularly in NFR (Non Fuel Retail) areas such as in connected cafes/restaurants, car washes and in the convenience store. The unified POS model would also enable mobility. Having an entire retail site run from a mobile, handheld device such as an iPad or android tablet could eliminate the need for large cash registers and terminals thereby lowering infrastructure and support costs. Working with an IT partner which has strong ties with the major Cloud players such as Salesforce, Microsoft Azure, and AWS, makes sense, as they can leverage Cloud management services to drastically reduce costs, while also providing centralized access to retail data. This will enable fuel retailers to conduct useful retail analytics and derive unique insights on consumers based on behavior instead of segmenting them by simple demographics.
Another major benefit of Unified POS is scalability. As more retail outlets are opened or onboarded or if there are new products, payment types, services that need to be added, a Unified POS system makes it easier to coordinate changes across geographies and retail formats while making it easier to monitor how store managers are responding to new setups.
A user friendly look and feel to the POS interface either on a mobile device or at retail terminals/kiosks will enable quick and easy purchases, facilitating valuable discounts on demand for consumer purchases. In addition, the ability to have one central platform with a POS that is integrated with your back office systems – inventories, orders, shipment tracking, accounts payable/receivables, gives a business the ability to make decisions on the fly and be proactive rather than reactive.
Whether fuel retailers are running Adobe or SAP Hybris for your eCommerce platform or Salesforce for your CRM platform, it is necessary to have a consulting partner to ensure you are using these platforms to their full capabilities. According to Forrester, “42% of digital business professionals say they cannot currently measure the contribution of digital touchpoints to in-store behavior2 .” Retailers need a partner who understand the technology and can help determine what changes, improvements, or integrations will provide the most value.
Developing a unified POS solution for your company will set up your retail business for future digital improvements ranging from enabling new products and services, integrated offers & engagements, redefined network presence, next-gen site formats, automated store operations, and innovative business models.
1 The Top Retail Technology Investments In 2018, May 2018, Forrester https://www.forrester.com/report/The+Top+Retail+Technology+Investments+In+2018/-/E-RES139936
2 Construct The Business Case For Digital Store Transformation, April 2018, Forrester https://www.forrester.com/report/Construct+The+Business+Case+For+Digital+Store+Transformation/-/E-RES122482