Tuesday 14 June 2016

What the future of the petrol station looks like

Given the fact that, according to The Economist, although combined petrol and diesel consumption has grown by over 75% since 1970, the number of petrol stations has fallen by nearly 80%, with oil companies first replacing independent operators, in turn oil firms were undercut by supermarkets, which sold petrol at near cost to attract shoppers to their out-of-town sites.

Now that consumers are shopping faster, smaller, closer and more often, another threat looms, in that shoppers are less willing to shop out of town...  These changes probably account for the fact that the petrol stations that remain are selling twice as much fuel.

However, the problem remains for forecourt owners of how to maximise revenue streams from forecourts.

And therein lies the opportunity for NAMs...

Selling more to existing users:  
Apart from the obvious fuel, including super-charging of electric cars, and motor requisites and services, 'feeding' the driver comes second, with goods and services for passengers next.

Then comes food-to-go and top-up shopping for drivers and foot-traffic, as required. And not forgetting Amazonian facilities like click & collect, where appropriate.

In fact, according to The Telegraph, Shell are part of a joint venture with Daimler and others to commercialise hydrogen gas for powering hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and have spent “quite a bit of money” since 2012 revamping 400 of its UK petrol stations – making them larger, adding parking spaces, installing DHL pick-up points – with plans to upgrade 50 more this year.

The company has two sites in Bangkok that sell only V-Power, Shell’s highest quality fuel, alongside a luxury cafe. Each customer gets two attendants – one to serve them and one to service their car. In Luxembourg, Shell operates the world’s largest petrol station, servicing up to 25,000 customers per day (Details and pics on The Telegraph site).

In other words, all possible ways of meeting all possible needs, to optimise the space...

However, one key limitation has been the flat-site heritage where the original (lateral?) thinking - in an era of plenty of low-rent space - decreed that petrol stations had to be single storey, drive-in/out locations.

What is now required is the application of some vertical thinking, in terms of a re-modelling of the site in terms of underground car-parks, and multi-storey buildings, thus allowing the unit to become a multi-service pod that really serves the local market...

So some short term, medium and long term opportunities for creative NAMs...that can combine the best bits of lateral and vertical thinking, without missing a beat...

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