CALGARY, Alberta -- With fewer than 2,000 gasoline stations and convenience stores in Canada and the United States, Parkland Fuel Corp. is representative of the traditional fuel retailing model. For years, its customers have traveled to its locations to fill up. But through its investment in and new strategic partnership with mobile fueling service Filld, Parkland is seeking to disrupt this conventional approach and offer customers a choice in how they get fuel—and one day maybe snacks, a soda or a sandwich.
In October, Parkland Fuel, which distributes Chevron and Esso branded gasoline, diesel, propane, heating oil and other petroleum products in Canada and the United States, became the first independent fuel marketer to enter the mobile fueling space through its investment in Filld. As part of a strategic partnership, Parkland Fuel is now the exclusive fuel supplier for Filld in Canada and is a preferred supplier in the United States, where it has about 40 stores.
“Part of the experience we are trying to create with our multitude of brands is the ability for customers to have choice,” Ian White, vice president of strategic marketing for Parkland Fuel Corp., Calgary, Alberta, told CSP Fuels. “As the world changes, customer needs evolve. It gives customers the option of coming to our fueling station or us coming to them.” (White and Doug Haugh, president of Parkland USA, are members of Filld's board of directors.)
The first phase of the partnership began in November, when Filld announced it would begin offering consumer fueling, supplied by Parkland, in Vancouver, British Columbia, where Parkland also operates Chevron-branded sites and has a refinery. In the United States, Mountain View, Calif.-based Filld had recently introduced consumer fueling to the Washington, D.C., market, where it provides mobile commercial and fleet fueling, and to Seattle. It also provides the service in the San Francisco Bay Area and Portland, Ore.
With Parkland Fuel, it’s not just a supply relationship. Parkland picked Filld for two main reasons: its safety record and technological capabilities.
“They have a terrific technology platform around connected car,” said White, citing Filld’s relationships with several vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) around the connected car capability. “We see the ability to evolve our technology platform combined with Filld to allow us insights around customer behavior, to allow for us to get indications of where people are at with their fuel gauge, to send notifications.”
Parkland plans to promote the Filld service in its c-stores and on social media, and to tie its upcoming loyalty rewards program into the mobile fueling offer to better understand how customers are using the service and respond accordingly.
To some retailers, there might seem to be a channel conflict in offering mobile fueling. If Parkland’s customers no longer need to visit its sites to buy fuel, then isn’t it sacrificing higher-profit opportunities inside the store? From Parkland’s perspective, it’s more about going with the flow.
“Our position is that customers will ultimately determine what service they require. It’s our job to meet their needs,” said White. “We also see this just being a natural sort of evolution in the consumer space, and one that we’re not prepared to resist. We’re actually embracing it. So we see there being incremental opportunity by providing this service.”
In fact, Parkland sees potential for delivering c-store items through the Filld mobile fueling service. “Our intent is to learn from this, to develop a connection with the customer and ultimately learn if there’s an extension beyond fuel,” said White.