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October 09, 2015
Can the UK fuels retail industry become digital disruptors?
By: Zahra Bahrololoumi
The fuels retail industry is evolving, with increased competition, costs challenges and digital advances, such as connected cars and mobile payments, creating a complex operating environment. At the forecourt, in the store or online, customers want retailers to provide an innovative and differentiated experience that fits into their digital life—seamless, personal and omnichannel. They want to be able to do everything with their electronic devices and they never want to stand in a queue again.

Standing at this juncture, are fuels retailers ready and prepared to make the changes required? Can they take advantage of the digital opportunities required to compete with the grocery retailing incumbents, especially in mature markets like the UK? Is there a risk that the traditional fuel retailers will fall behind their competitors that seem to be embracing the digital experience much quicker?

A survey conducted in April 2015 of fuel companies and independent retailers or site owners in the UK by Accenture in conjunction with the Petrol Retailers Association, found that only two percent of the retailers surveyed believe that having the latest technology on site is a key success factor. As the expectations of the digital consumer mature, things like mobile payments and real-time loyalty will establish themselves as ‘the basic offering’ and the differentiators will be more technically sophisticated. Accenture’s Retail Technology Vision shows that technology is key to not only making retailers’ lives easier but also keeping customers happier.

So, how can UK fuel retailers succeed in this complex, ever-changing landscape? How can they keep up with the ever changing demands of their customers? We believe fuel retailers must openly embrace the changes enabled by the digital revolution to remain competitive and indeed become industry leaders. For example, Accenture is helping BP transform the customer experience and improve its product and service offering through the use of digital tools and advanced customer analytics models. Initially, the project will focus on Europe with options to be extended over time.

What is clear from our survey is that to become disruptors, retailers, brand providers and industry advisors must collaborate more to get the basics right in terms of customer focus, operational efficiency and value-added services. Watch this video to know how fuels retail can digitally enhance customer experience.

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