Tour BP’s Interactive Pump

Samantha Oller, Senior Editor/Fuels, CSP

BP Miles

CHICAGO -- BP aims to solve an old problem with new technology: Making the fueling experience enjoyable. It’s most recent effort centers around Miles, an interactive fuel pump that engages with customers as they fill up. It is currently in test at four sites in Chicago and New York.

Miles had been in development for the past three months, Jo Brecknock, director of brand and communications for Houston-based BP, told CSP Daily News.

“The trigger was thinking about our consumers and what matters to them most,” said Brecknock. “We know that nobody wakes up in the morning wanting to pump gas. How can you make the three to five minutes you spend at the pump a little bit more exciting?”

And ultimately, an enjoyable experience should create some customer goodwill. “This is about loyalty, and it is about getting our consumers to come back at the station,” she said.

Click on for a tour of Miles’ most notable features.

Location and equipment

BP's Miles

BP selected four distributor and dealer-operated sites in Chicago and New York, each high-traffic, well maintained and with a decent-size lot. The fuel dispensers—all Wayne Ovation—were pre-existing, as were the Delphi displays on top. The only new elements are the touchscreen tablets affixed to the side of the dispensers, the software and content.

Recognition software senses when a car approaches and the driver gets out to fuel up. “As soon as that trigger point happens,” said Brecknock, “Miles will start his interaction.”


BP's Miles

After a friendly greeting, Miles invites the customer to play music. The customer can select between five Pandora music stations—pop, rock, country, rap or electronic dance music. BP plans to swap in a holiday station after Thanksgiving, likely with whichever station has proven least popular with customers.

Trivia time

BP's Miles

Customers can scroll through a menu to play games or take photos. BP has programmed in five music-trivia games, each with five questions. The questions appear on the Delphi screen above the pump, and the customer responds via the touchscreen tablet. If a customer picked the country Pandora station, they will see country-music-related trivia questions.

Photos and video

BP's Miles

Customers can also select a photo booth option. To use, they line their face up with marks on the tablet and take their photo. Miles offers augmented reality filters, again related to the music station selected. “If you’re playing country music and decide to do photo booth, when you take the photo, you might have a cowboy hat and glasses, or bandana,” said Brecknock.


Coupons and more

BP's Miles

Miles will prompt customers who take a picture to share their mobile number to receive a copy of the photo and a coupon for 25 cents per gallon off their next fill up.

“You’ll get potentially up to three messages—the coupon, content created and a link to the Pandora station you selected,” said Brecknock. “It’s not intrusive, and you have a choice whether you want to do it or not.”

While BP is not including any special promotional messaging that would encourage a store purchase in this initial test of Miles, there is “a lot of potential,” said the executive.

Weather and news

BP's Miles

Some customers might not be in the mood to interact with Miles. Here, BP has programmed Miles to default to showing local weather and news on the Delphi screen if the customer has not touched the tablet within about the first 25 seconds of the experience.

The total Miles experience has been limited to three to five minutes. “The experience should only last for as long as you fill up,” said Brecknock. “We want you to have that memorable, enjoyable moment, but it isn’t about staying at the pump for 20 minutes.”


The return visit

BP's Miles

BP will be evaluating a few factors before deciding whether to roll Miles out to additional locations. “You’re looking for consumer reactions—measuring it through how much interaction you’re seeing at the pumps, how many consumers are engaging with it,” said Brecknock. This includes the amount of content customers create and share.

And the fueling site’s owner’s experience matters, as well.

“From the site-owner perspective, a jobber/dealer perspective, we want it to be something that drives traffic to the site,” said Brecknock. “It should be something that creates positive energy and the brand and makes consumers want to come back to the BP gas station.”