Three Lessons Learned:

What grocery stores can learn from petrol stations

Forecourt operators face considerable changes from the impacts of sustainability, as mobility continues to shift towards hybrid and electric charging, and possible future use of Hydrogen vehicles. – the future forecourt may never look the same again. However, even tough, increased investment is required to implement new forms of charging, petrol stations can be profitable. But for what reason? Because the real profit is made IN the retail store. 

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Sean Taylor
Head of Retail Solutions UK at Panasonic Business

Forecourt retail operators are looking to improve the whole customer experience and implement efficient technologies that attract customer to make increased purchases and also optomise operations. One key technology helping this sector is the implementation of Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL). ESLs play a key role for the success and profitability of modern retail stores, thanks to a combination of creative solutions and smart technologies. It’s all based on the ability to make physical shopping trips as easy and as enjoyable as possible - for customers and store colleagues.

ESLs help to create a centralized, dynamic, and efficient price management system. They can be integrated simply with the existing store back office and EPOS systems, allowing price labels to be updated across the store digitally, within minutes. Additionally, customer facings can show various product information, for example nutrition details or product origin. For staff members, ESLs can be used for replenishment information or supply chain information such as out of stock details. 

 This is just the beginning. Petrol stations have made the start to show retailers what is possible - for a smarter future and more efficient business. 

Increasing sales through effective pricing

As an example the innovative Dutch petrol station and car wash service provider Loogman has recently installed Electronic Shelf Labels at their service station. At Loogman the customer comes first: unlike other service stations, Loogman has a customer-centric service approach and offers service staff to refuel cars. Several cars can be refueled at one terminal at the same time. 

However, the station shop itself was in lack of customer service due to manual price tags and a huge amount of product with continuous price tag updates. Running out of tickets, many products did not have any pricing information. At this point, ESLs came in: Panasonic’s service engineers integrated ESLs within the store and linked them to the central POS system. After a seamless integration, labels are now fully in action updating prices in seconds, showing logos and promotions for clear customer communication. As a result, sales of automotive materials have increased ever since. 

Driving customer convenience

In summer 2023, Essar UK has opened a new flagship forecourt and Morrisons store at Lea Gate, on Blackpool Road, Preston. Besides offering a large fueling area for cars, truck, electric charging stations and car wash facilities, a 3,000sq ft Morrisons daily convenience store as well as a Costa Express coffee shop attract customers driving along Blackpool Road. 2800 installed ESLs in the store contribute to driving the overall customer convenience concept of Essar. Processes are defined in a simple way for staff members and customers get a value-added experience. 

Developing new ideas and long-term partnerships

The innovative energy company team energie GmbH & Co. KG based in Flensburg, Germany has already digitized three petrol stations with three more to follow this year. Team energie aims to develop sustainable and profitable mobility hubs to attract all types of customers from campers, e-vehicle users to daily commuters. The shopping experience should be customer-oriented, fast, uncomplicated and in a pleasant, clean atmosphere. 

Electronic Shelf Labels are part of the digitalization strategy - proven to facilitate processes in petrol stations and thus help to provide customers with a positive experience and reduce staff time as well as minimize the use of paper. Individually designed, striking and attractive price labels are a crucial part of the customer journey within the store. And that’s not enough: for the future, expanded dynamic pricing and the use of AI are about to come. 

Panasonic and team energie have recently signed a service agreement for further ESLs installations in Germany. After a first successful pilot project, both sides have learned a lot from each other. The initial phase has now led to a trusting partnership. 

Increased customer loyalty

Petrol stations have set the direction towards smart and dynamic stores with technology to optimize their retail sales – from smart and effective pricing linked to the central POS system to having a centralized IT system for several stores and creating customer experience with a trusted partner. It shows that ESLs do not only help to save resources and increase customer experience throughout the store, but even help to increase customer loyalty. So, is your convenience store ready to become a smart store as well? 

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