Future-Proofing Your New Site

Richard Browne, Vice President, Marketing, Patriot Capital Corp.

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A new site’s equipment and layout represents a significant investment. Sophisticated loyalty programs, heightened security and environmental regulations, “new” fuels and an ever-changing consumer are facts of life. Against this backdrop, here are 10 trends to consider to future-proof your investment.

1. Continued Growth of “Deofficing.” Starbucks and McDonald’s offer complimentary Wi-Fi-enabled meeting space for the mobile and home-based worker. Adding some tables and Wi-Fi may allow you to capture the estimated 50% of the workforce that will be deofficed in 2020.

2. Increasing Payment-Security Needs. Visa and MasterCard have announced plans to financially incent retailers to adopt EMV standards to help reduce payment fraud. Visa’s planned liability shift will increase retailers’ exposure for breaches effective October 2015 for POS and 2017 for gas pumps. Installing EMV-ready POS and gas pump CRIND now will minimize your upgrade costs. Ensuring your POS and CRIND can be upgraded to meet future payment standards will minimize your liability and protect your brand.

3. Mobile-Wallet Adoption. Google, Isis, PayPal and Visa have announced plans to launch mobile-phone-based products that integrate payment, loyalty and location- based offers. Ensure your POS and pumps are upgradable for this technology, which will begin being broadly deployed later this year. Combined with pumpscreen merchandising, your ability to affect the customer experience before, during and after the site visit is being redefined.

4. The “Fifth” Screen. Consumers’ attention spans are shrinking, and their need to be constantly informed and entertained is increasing. The dispenser screen presents an opportunity to enhance the experience with your brand. Gilbarco, Wayne and others have offerings that present a mix of news and entertainment interwoven with advertising of both c-store and other items. The capabilities of these marketing systems will grow as loyalty and mobile-wallet usage increases. Can you envision a site being built in five years with pumps that don’t have large color screens? I can’t.

5. Bigger Data Pipe. As your devices become increasingly smarter and proliferate, the need for rapid two-way communication will increase. Effective connectivity enhances real-time identification of variance alarms and accelerates pump authorization, especially in a datarich EMV environment. Spending a few hundred dollars on surge-protected CAT 5e ethernet cabling now will prevent having to dig up your forecourt later. Using self-configuring virtual private networks (VPNs) and intelligent routers will speed startup and simplify PCI compliance.

6. Increased Electrical Wiring Needs. Will you be able to add a electric-vehicle charging station if needed? Specify spare conduit, isolated circuits and plenty of outlets during construction. Avoid a discussion with your local fire chief by confirming that you comply with the 2011 NEC revisions (section 514.11).

7. Fuel Diversity. The DOE ruling in January approving E15 for 2001-2006 cars is another step down the path of regulatory support for this fuel. Diesel demand will continue to grow. Maximize your flexibility by using divided tanks and maintaining piping options. Will your site design enable the addition of CNG dispensing in the future?

8. Dynamic Pricing Increases. Digital price signs and enhanced real-time volume information will drive dynamic pricing. For many retailers, today’s set-and-forget process of establishing pricing prior to the morning drive time will be replaced by a combination of algorithmic-based pricing models and gut instinct. Expect to see prices reset multiple times a day.

9. Increasing Fuel Prices. As fuel becomes more expensive, physical attacks on equipment to enable fuel theft increase. Review with equipment providers’ options to enhance detection and deter attacks on your equipment. Understand the capabilities of your ATG tank gauge and back office in detecting and alarming for unexplained fuel variance.

10. Technicians Become Scarce. Using prefabricated and factory-assembled fuel transfer and containment systems and electrical panels can reduce installation labor by more than 25% and ensure system integrity. Using accredited technicians and paying them promptly will help ensure that when you have a problem, they will be there for you.  

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