How can fuel retailers become the industry disrupters of the future?

Fuel retailers have the opportunity to disrupt the industry with exciting new customer-focused, digitally-enabled innovations. Zahra Bahrololoumi, Managing Director – Energy, Accenture discusses the future of the fuel retail industry.

How innovative is the fuels retail industry today?

The fuels retail industry is very interesting, but the reality is that we’ve seen little change in the types of services in the petrol industry, particularly in the UK.

We’ve seen some exciting developments in the recapture of market share by the independents, fuelled mainly by the major brand divestments and the significance of these for the industry should not be underestimated.

However, petrol stations are simply not innovating at the rate we see in the rest of the retail industry. And this is where the hypermarkets in particular could gain competitive advantage.

How does fuels retail compare to other retail industries?

Let’s take contactless payment for example, particularly in London. All the big chains, shops and retailers have contactless payment as a very convenient way to pay. They’re thinking about the consumer first and knowing that no one wants to stand in a long queue while they’re in a hurry to grab lunch.

But it’s not just about keeping pace. Some retailers are actively making changes by shaking up the industry in shaping consumer expectations.

What can fuel retailers do to keep up – and differentiate?

When we talk about actively shaping consumer expectations, we’re really talking about disruption in the industry. What does disruption in the fuels industry really look like?

Imagine you were a fuel retailer: what if your customer could pay without leaving their car because of the technology available on the forecourt or in their car?

What if your consumer could pre-order their lunch or coffee via their smartphone before they arrived on the forecourt and it would be waiting for them?

What if you were able to deliver fuel directly to your customer while they were sleeping, and perhaps pop their grocery shopping into the back of their car?

And what if your site was the site of choice for driverless cars due to the sensor technology on the forecourt that helped driverless cars navigate through it successfully?

These might sound daunting to a fuel retailer, but these are the types of innovations that are here and set to shake up the industry in the future. There is no doubt there is a need for many fuel retailers and the fuel retail industry to get a handle on their basic operations and associated costs. But really this industry should not lose sight of the opportunity to be a disrupter.

Source: Accenture; Sept 2015

Reaching out to Malaysia’s digitally savvy Gen Z

With a monthly disposable income of 327 million USD, Malaysia’s 9.06 million strong Generation Z is one that is incredibly valuable to brands.

But unlike their Millennial predecessors the group of 13 to 21 year olds has only ever known life with the internet, and has a completely different outlook on connecting not only with each other, but also with brands than previous generations did.

In fact, for many the line between the digital and physical world is a blurry one and Gen Z will actually look to their presence online, rather than human interaction, for validation of their behaviour and consumer choices

The Epinion team recently conducted a study looking at Malaysia’s Gen Z which threw up some very surprising findings, and valuable insight for brands.

One of the more unexpected results was how digitally savvy, yet socially awkward this group of young people is.

Unlike previous generations who yearned for freedom and exciting social experiences, this cohort would rather be cocooned at home connecting with friends online, most going so far as to describe face to face contact as ‘uncomfortable.’

Almost all own a mobile phone, including 79 per cent of those aged 13- 15, and see it as an extension of their person, rather than an accessory – most know where it is at all times.

So if brands want to connect with Malaysia’s Generation Z they must share simple, bite sized messages that can be consumed via mobile, specifically via chat apps which 65 per cent said was the method they felt most comfortable talking to their friends.

But this isn’t an opportunity for lightweight messages; this is a generation that is not only has a high digital intelligence (so unlikely to fall for clickbait or false promises) but is also one that cares about the world around them.

We found 74 per cent of Malaysia’s GenZ said they were concerned about recycling and environment protection, 73 per cent freedom of speech and 71 per cent with education for everyone.

Clearly, if brands want to hold some sway with this socially aware group they must show they support a higher purpose.

For brands to do well here must demonstrate an element of empowerment, responsibility and general social conscious.

However, what might be most importantly to brands is how smart and in the know Gen Z is. For despite being young, their opinions are trusted by their families when it comes to decision-making for household purchases thanks to their knowledge acquiring abilities, ultimately hugely increasing the sum Gen Z has to spend directly and indirectly.

Source: digitalmarket.asia; 18 Aug 2015