2011 Archives

Emerging Retail Trends, Catering to a Captive Audience

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Technology in the forecourt is becoming a trend the industry is sure to see more of in 2011. WilcoHess collaborated with Allied Electronics, a provider of service station automation systems, Pinnacle Corp. and Vendgogh, a provider of integrated gas island vending solutions, to develop a fuel island vending solution that captures gas customers not coming into the store.

The vending machine was tested in two stores, then rolled out to a third test store in September.

“We were intrigued that it tied into the pump, and that customers can make the purchase decision right there,” said Larry Lytle, vice president of marketing for WilcoHess, which operates 380 travel plazas and c- stores in seven Southeastern states. “The stores we selected for the test had a heavy concentration of credit card usage, so it made sense to us to invest in a new system that can increase the ticket ring.”

When customers use their credit or debit card to purchase gas, an offer for a cold beverage appears on the screen. If the customer selects “yes,” it asks how many beverages they’d like and sends a signal to the adjacent vending machine for that number of drinks to be removed.

During the trial, the chain made modifications including adding sound to inform the customer of the offering. “This made a big difference—sales improved at the machines by 20%,” Lytle said. The biggest concern was that the outdoor vending would detract from inside store sales, but, so far, in-store sales have not been affected. “We feel like we’re attracting the customer that wasn’t going into the store anyway, so from that aspect we’re very encouraged that this is strictly incremental business,” Lytle said. Other technology that could be headed for U.S. gas pumps in the near future is the ability to detect and automatically recognize license plates. Technology currently is being used in the UK that senses and runs license plate numbers the minute a car pulls up to the pump. If the plate is on the hot list, the pump is shut off, and does not allow the person to pump gas.

Source: Convenient Store Decisions
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