MIAMI — Grab-and-go shopping, facial recognition and electric vehicle (EV) charging: What sounds like highlights of a large tech conference were popular topics of conversation at the latest meeting of the BP Amoco Marketers Association (BPAMA).
Approximately 300 jobbers representing the BP and Amoco brands gathered in Miami for the 2020 BPAMA Convention in early March to hear about the major brand’s plans and vision for the year ahead, network and see some of the latest technologies and offers. Here are a few of the tech innovations in test or set to pilot at a BP branded site in 2020 ...
At the convention, BP highlighted prototype fixtures to display marketing messages at the pump, including a new card reader in dispenser (CRIND) frame that sits on top of the dispenser that can hold magnetic, semi-permanent signage, as well as a structure that affixes to the existing fuel canopy columns. Consider these to be transitionary fixtures, or “what we’re having to do today because we don’t have things like digital screens at scale across the network,” said Jo Brecknock, BP’s director of brand and communications.
Those large digital touchscreens—developed by Wayne Fueling Systems and featured on a dispenser at the BPAMA convention—are going into pilot in 2020, including at a BP-branded location in Miami. Through the touchscreen, the customer can choose everything from the brightness of the display to the content, such as ESPN or local traffic. A facial recognition camera can create a digital scan of a customer’s face and remember his preferences for future transactions, including loyalty, payment and fuel grade choices. The cloud-based platform also allows jobbers to keep track of more than 150 touch points inside the dispenser, as well as customize content remotely.
The BPAMA convention also featured applications of tech from Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of the Seattle-based online retail giant that specializes in cloud-based services. They included a prototype refrigerator that the user unlocks by scanning a payment app, such as BP’s BPme Rewards app. Three cameras keep track of the fridge’s inventory before and after the door closes and charges the customer accordingly. The system also can build a profile of the customers’ purchasing habits. BP is looking to have a unit developed that can sit in the store or out on the forecourt.
Another AWS application features cameras installed in a store’s ceiling that could alert a retailer to anything from a spill on the floor to a gun in someone’s hand, or track consumer demographics or shopping behavior.
And in another application—combined with inexpensive sensors—the AWS tech could alert a retailer to temperature fluctuations in a cooler, for example, or a dysfunction at the pump.
EV fast charging
In 2018, BP became a strategic investor in FreeWire Technologies Inc., a tech company best known for its mobile EV charging units. At the BPAMA convention, FreeWire displayed a battery-integrated EV fast-charging station set to go into pilot at BP-branded locations in the United States in 2020. Susie Monson, head of sales enablement and channel programs for San Leandro, Calif.-based FreeWire, pointed out that the unit has a few advantages:
- The battery bank, which makes up half of the fixture, allows the FreeWire station to be installed in locations that lack the electrical infrastructure to support fast charging. Its draw on the grid is relatively modest, or what Monson likened to “plugging in a big freezer.”
- With the battery buffering the draw of power, the FreeWire unit’s operating costs are more predictable because an operator avoids demand charges.
- By avoiding expensive electrical infrastructure upgrade costs, an operator can move the FreeWire unit to other locations and would have to invest only in a new concrete pad.
FreeWire’s first pilot of the unit will be at a BP-branded location in California this April, with another nine sites slated for 2020.