CHICAGO — The year 2021 might be remembered as a harbinger of things to come in convenience and fueling retail.
Delivery and alternative checkout options have become mainstream even after social distancing guidelines have largely been lifted. Meanwhile, the ransomware attack against the Colonial Pipeline exposed the fragility of the nation’s supply chain of liquid fuel, just as governments and automakers around the world are committing to phase out gasoline over the next few decades.
Click through for a review of some of the biggest events and trends that affected fuels and technology in retailing in 2021 …
Phasing Out Gasoline
The year started out with a bang when General Motors made a commitment to eliminate tail-pipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035. Volvo followed in March with the announcement that it plans to become a fully electric car company by 2030.
Colonial Pipeline Hack
On May 7, the Colonial Pipeline was forced to shut down, cutting off nearly half of the supply of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to the southeast. The Alpharetta, Ga.-based pipeline resumed operation on May 12, but, driven by consumer panic, the cyberattack caused chaos for gas stations and drivers.
The shutdown caused long lines as some panicked consumers created the gasoline shortage they were attempting to avoid by draining gas stations in the Southeast of their gas supplies. Moreover, the ransomware attack from hacker group DarkSide exposed the pipeline’s lax cybersecurity protocols. Reportedly, the pipeline company paid $90 million in bitcoin ransom payments to settle the issue.
Delivery-focused companies such as DoorDash and Instacart are expanding their wares and rebranding some services as virtual convenience stores. The DashMart concept from DoorDash and the Publix Quick Picks platform from Instacart, for instance, have both been marketed as on-the-go convenience stores.
New Checkout Normal
Alternative checkout options are quickly becoming must-haves for retailers as consumers demand more flexibility in their shopping experiences. Examples include new payment schemes, self-checkout and no-checkout.
Check out the January 2022 issue of CSP magazine for a look at 20 retailers who made checkout technology a priority before and during the pandemic.