ATLANTA -- If you were a connoisseur of the futuristic movies of our youth, by now, you would have expected that we would be traveling to work in flying cars controlled by “impulse power” using some unseen force for fueling and propulsion.
In reality, the driving experience itself remains quite similar today to what it was 60 years ago. But few back then would have envisioned that we’d still be pumping our own gasoline today while watching TV and receiving coupons on a pocket computer that knows where we are and what we last purchased.
Today’s connected consumer—though remaining grounded upon rubber wheels—is demanding more out of the overall fueling experience, which includes an inherent expectation that fuel retailers will meet their demand for greater speed and conveniences.
In my last article, “Is Your Store Future Ready?,” I wrote about the need for retailers to plan for EMV (EuroPay, Mastercard and Visa payments),which is heralding the transition from mag-swipe transactions to a secure “chip-and-dip” standard. As you evaluate paths for an EMV upgrade, the opportunity exists to cost effectively add more consumer conveniences, both inside and outside your convenience store. I believe that part of your EMV strategy should include a sitewide marketing technology plan. These technologies have the potential to improve your EMV return on investment.
Engaging at the Pump
“Many of Gilbarco’s customers are looking at the EMV migration as an opportunity to not only enable better security for their customers, but also to implement technologies that will improve their consumers’ fueling experience and drive more traffic to their sites,” said Parker Burke, director of payment & media, Gilbarco Veeder-Root.
Gilbarco, Wayne Fueling, Verifone and other manufacturers have developed a host of new products and services that retailers can use to grow sales, particularly at the pump, where 3 minutes of idle time offers a great opportunity to dialogue with consumers using the latest Ovation and Encore dispenser technology.
“In-dispenser media technologies, such as Applause TV with VNET, are a popular solution to meet this challenge,” Burke told me. “This platform provides engaging entertainment and advertising content focused on the c-store consumer and can also provide a subsidized path to supporting EMV regulations.”
As media or “TV at the pump” provided by Gilbarco, GSTV and others continues to grow, consumers will look to sites that offer interesting content and relevant offers at the pump as preferred fueling destinations.
Another upgrade that can be accomplished simultaneously with EMV is near-field communications (NFC), which enables payment providers like Apple Pay and Google Wallet. These payment forms enable speed upgrades built into the new terminals that can expedite transactions for consumers.
“If a retailer can integrate that kind of user experience, consumers will naturally migrate to [those retailers],” said Michael Tyler, senior director of petroleum channel sales for Verifone, a leading provider of credit-card processing equipment.
Tyler said that Verifone has integrated NFC-reading antennas into its MX900 series products, which are also EMV-enabled. That’s because Tyler predicts that consumers will eventually prefer the convenience of a “tap to pay” mobile transaction over fishing out a card from their wallet.
“Consumers are eager for the day when they never have to use a card at all,” Tyler said.
What may ultimately cement the new compact between the tech-savvy consumer and future-forward retailer is a more time-honored tradition: rewarding loyalty. Consumers are 38% more likely to use a fuel brand if it offers a loyalty program featuring a cash discount, according to a study by NPD group. Loyalty programs continue to evolve and improve as both the brands and third parties expand their offerings.
Other areas that should be considered in a site marketing technology plan include the security and speed of your sites data communications and the use of point-of-sale impulse merchandising screens such as Verifone’s LiftRetail and Gilbarco’s Impulse, which are reported to increase in-store sales by up to 5%
Understanding the range of marketing technologies available will ensure any EMV investment you make maximizes your EMV ROI.
In the last part of this series, we’ll look at capital acquisition and equipment financing options that can facilitate these capital improvements.