When I think back to January and my personal and business plans for 2020, I had no idea how much the world was about to change in such a short time. In January our fuel retail strategy was focused on how to help fuel retailers address the business challenges from new environmental changes, customer expectations and the introduction of zero emission mobility fuels.
Fast forward to August and although the environment and fuel transition are still important to the industry, the effects of Covid-19 have certainly presented a new (very loud) voice of change to fuel retailers. In nearly all cases, the industry has maintained essential services and kept fuel stations open. Although open, the sites have experienced an unprecedented drop in both fuel and non-fuel sales.
I am certain we will meet the challenges presented by the pandemic and the industry will rebound as we enter 2021, but it is fair to say that the effects will continue to impact our industry on a global scale for many years ahead. In my opinion this is the number one challenge, but with it comes the opportunity to reinvent how services and solutions are adopted in order to gain market share.
This is becoming a very over used phrase, but we have entered a ‘new normal’ and it is clear to me that many of the industry’s processes and solutions must adapt quickly to provide the insight, solutions and services that will drive success for fuel retailers. For instance, the concept of network planning has been central to all fuel station providers, but with the introduction of lockdowns, followed by unlocks, new locations (test centres) and new customer behaviour and demands, this function is now in need of new data to inform the decision making of the post Covid-19 world.
“Let’s get a new network planning solution!” I hear you say. That is certainly one solution, but in my opinion the “make do and mend” mantra is the key to gaining speed and advantage for fuel retailers. The effort, time and disruption to replace systems could mean that the benefits would be delayed and in some cases may be outdated before they could add any value.
Network planning, site automation, pricing and payments are just a few areas that need revised insight at speed and in my view replacement is not always the right option. A rapid data layer and integration solution is required that can support new data sources in days and provide solutions to fuel retailers within weeks. It can also address the other challenge of lack of investment by providing open source, standard APIs which reduce the cost of implementation and ownership.
Every aspect of our lives has changed at record speed and it is now important that fuel retailer’s businesses, process and solutions adopt an alternative approach. Those who boldly seize the opportunity will find themselves in a winning position to Respond, Rebound and Reinvent.
I'm interested in your thoughts and current experience for the Retail Fuel market, leave a comment or contact me to see how CGI can support the future shape of your business.
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