Crystal Balling 2024: Tech Trends Fuel Marketers Need to Know to Stay Ahead of the Curve

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WPMA and M-PACT 2023 Showed Petroleum Marketers How Rapidly Their Industry Is Modernizing

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WPMA and M-PACT 2023 Showed Petroleum Marketers How Rapidly Their Industry Is Modernizing

Downstream petroleum is one of the most mature industries around, but it’s been slow to adopt new technologies. This is starting to change, as the 2023 Western Petroleum Marketers Association (WPMA) Expo in Las Vegas and M-PACT Fuel & Convenience Tradeshow in Indianapolis showed.

Cloud-based software companies in particular made a strong showing at both events, offering solutions for dispatch, driver recruiting, and more. Unlike legacy solutions, this new wave of cloud technology offers distributors a smoother transition to the data-driven world.

“When I started out 20 or so years ago, tech lagged with both retailers and wholesalers. Business was too often phone calls, faxes, and note cards to source product and get it on the road to the customer,” Keith Reid, Editor of Fuels Market News said. “Now, technology offers incredible efficiency and control, and can allow smaller operators to level the playing field, to a great extent, with the largest competitors.” 

Here’s a look at 11 exhibitors from WPMA and M-PACT who are helping petroleum marketers run more efficiently with technology.

Acumera secures multiple C-store locations on one network

M-PACT’s education session “Risks, Challenges & Prevention of Cyber Attacks” highlighted how convenience stores, like other retailers, must be ready for threats such as data breaches. At the same time, there’s still in-store loss to worry about, from theft to spoilage.

Acumera brings all your C-stores’ operations and payment processing onto one secure platform. Now, you can monitor every location from a single dashboard. As a Gilbarco and Verifone managed network service provider (MNSP), Acumera understands the specialized needs of C-stores. That’s earned the trust of customers such as Valero, Jacksons, and Yesway.

Daniel Gleeson, Vice President of Sales at Acumera, predicts C-stores will only enjoy greater safety and efficiency as edge computing matures. “Using edge computing to drive artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will help forecast customer behavior and personalize their shopping experience. Another trend is the adoption of edge devices such as cameras, sensors, and smart shelves that collect real-time data about customer traffic, inventory levels, and store performance,” he said.

Learn more at www.acumera.com.

Anova drives down operational costs with real-time tank monitoring

For more than 30 years, Anova has helped companies around the world with remote telemetry and tank monitoring. Fuel and lubricant distributors rely on Anova’s cloud-connected industrial sensors to lower costs and tighten operations. Real-time monitoring means distributors can deliver more fuel on fewer trips. They can even monitor customers’ tanks to prevent stockouts and emergency deliveries.

Anova helps petroleum distributors further delight their customers with a white-label smartphone app. Solutions like these have made Anova a leader in the industrial internet of things (IIoT) space. The company won “IoT Analytics Platform of the Year” from the 2023 IoT Breakthrough Awards. Mike Eddings, Director of North America Sales at Anova, sees the growth of mobile and location-aware applications as key to helping petroleum marketers reach the next level. 

“Technology in the petroleum distribution market has always offered operational automation. But with the growth and adoption of cloud-based platforms and applications, process integration and remote access to core systems have greatly improved workflows and remote on-the-go productivity,” he said.

Learn more at www.anova.com.

Dover Fueling Solutions (DFS) wins customer loyalty at the pump

Customer experience, or CX, refers to a customer’s holistic perception of your brand. Dover Fueling Solutions (DFS) recognizes that at gas stations, pumping gas is a core part of brand experience. So, DFS makes it memorable with technology like 27’’ touchscreen displays. As customers fill up, they enjoy real-time weather, traffic updates, and multimedia.

DFS and its portfolio brands also advance fueling technology in other directions, including clean energy. “This year’s WPMA Expo showcased an increase in clean energy technologies, particularly in the context of electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure development. With a wider range of suppliers to support EV or hydrogen infrastructure development, retailers will be able to capitalize on this trending wave,” Scott Negley, Senior Director of Product Management at DFS said.

Negley predicts that as clean energy technology continues developing, it’ll drive more value to C-stores, truck stops, and gas stations. “Looking ahead, advancements in IoT technology, integration with vehicles, and personalized user experiences driven by biometrics and voice activation could further enhance the role of C-stores as digital hubs for EV drivers,” he said.

Learn more at www.doverfuelingsolutions.com.

FleetPanda unifies dispatch operations for all petroleum business models

FleetPanda speeds up order-to-cash time by automating paperwork—and reducing all the errors that came with it. Your dispatch, trucks, and back office unite under one cloud-based system. A central dashboard connects to drivers’ mobile apps, so you can monitor deliveries in real time. Manual tasks such as order entry are automated along the way, saving time and preventing mistakes.

McNeece Bros., a full-line petroleum jobber in Southern California, uses FleetPanda to run an automated, paperless dispatch and back office operation. “We were shuffling paper all the time. Now it’s all in one platform. A few clicks of a button and you’re sending it off to whoever it needs to go to. Our dispatcher, he’s probably saving about two hours a day,” Operations Manager Patrick McNeece said.

Learn more at www.fleetpanda.com.

Gas Pos makes opening a gas station faster and cheaper

Gas Pos estimates it can launch a new gas station or truck stop with a convenience store for up to 66% less than the cost of building one from the ground up. “Gas margins are volatile at the retail level, especially if you’re also carrying the overhead of construction and equipment. Eliminating those costs increases your profitability so you can grow your business faster,” Major Itule, Vice President of Sales at Gas Pos said.

The company’s equipment-as-a-service model provides customers with new: 

  • Europay/Mastercard/Visa (EMV) pumps;
  • above-ground storage tanks;
  • point-of-sale (POS) systems;
  • and cloud-based back office software. 

In addition to launching new gas stations, Gas Pos can modernize older ones, or convert fuel-less convenience stores.

Learn more at www.gaspos.co.

Heil Trailer helps drivers stay safe while staying efficient

Heil Trailer has helped distributors move petroleum and more around the world since 1901. For both WPMA and M-PACT, Heil rolled in a trailer showcasing IntelliTank, a suite of technologies designed to make drivers’ lives easier and safer.

TempGuard, for instance, automatically tracks and monitors load temperatures. Drivers no longer need to stop, check, and manually update records. Meanwhile, FuelGuard protects against the rise in fuel thefts. It uses geofencing to monitor when and where fuel is loaded and unloaded.

Learn more at https://heiltrailer.com/.

LottoShield stops lottery theft at gas stations and C-stores

Lottery tickets attract customers, but they also create an opportunity for loss. According to LottoShield, the average retail store loses about $5,000 per year in lottery theft. Losses can potentially reach $100,000 for some retailers. LottoShield prevents those losses with its lottery tracking system.

By monitoring all types of lottery transactions at all stages of their life cycles, LottoShield empowers C-stores to do things like spot and report a lottery theft right away, preventing the stolen inventory from being cashed. Teams save time, too, thanks to spending less time on reconciliation. Such benefits have won the trust of convenience chains such as Duck Thru Food Stores and Cox Family Stores.

“In terms of technology for convenience stores, I believe we will continue to see growth in software and automation, particularly in streamlining manual tasks and improving overall operational efficiency. This sort of technology will be essential as the industry continues to struggle with labor challenges and staffing issues,” Mehdi Mahmoodi, co-founder of LottoShield, said.

Learn more at www.lottoshield.com.

Opperman & Sons keeps next-generation trucks and tanks up and running

“Trucks are more expensive than they’ve ever been,” Carl Kleimman, owner and partner at Moffitt Services, said. Realities like truck costs, according to Kleimann, mean, “There’s never been a time where efficiency gains are worth more. Per day, per unit, or per shift is more meaningful now than ever.”

Based in Northern California, the family-owned Opperman & Sons shows what a tank and truck dealership built for today looks like. Its service center helps distributors maintain fleet uptime with a new parts inventory worth more than $1 million. The used parts inventory is equally impressive, spanning more than 10 acres. In addition to service, Opperman & Sons is one of the shops in Northern California certified to weld fuel tankers.

Learn more at https://oppermansales.com/.

Savi Solutions shows you where profit and loss happens in your C-store

Imagine knowing what employee and customer behaviors drive your C-store’s profits—and which make you vulnerable to loss. Savi Solutions surfaces those behaviors with an insight analytics platform that monitors your store in real time. It takes audio and video recordings of transactions and other events to help you audit store performance.

For instance, you can identify and review at-risk transactions to cut down on voids and no-sales. You can also track data such as service time to identify and reward high-performing employees. Insights like these have made Conoco and Phllips 66 fans of Savi Solutions’ platform.

Learn more at https://getsavi.com/.

TruckRight makes recruiting and retaining drivers easier

M-PACT’s education session “NATSO’s Take on What’s Happening in the Trucking Industry” couldn’t have been better timed. The driver shortage is still among the highest it’s ever been. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates the market needs about 78,000 more drivers. In the meantime, competition is tight to hire and hang onto the right people.

TruckRight offers relief. The software company’s recruiting, onboarding, training, and compliance platform is built by truckers, for truckers … and those hiring truckers. TruckRight appeals to drivers with a mobile-friendly application system that’s easy to fill out. It also enables recruiters to pre-qualify candidates in as quickly as 45 seconds.

From there, TruckRight streamlines onboarding so new hires start driving sooner. Online learning and paperless Driver Qualification (DQ) files keep you compliant while cutting down on paperwork, too.

Learn more at https://www.truckright.com/en/.

Upside entices new customers with targeted cash-back offers on gas

More than 45,000 gas stations nationwide partner with Upside. The app finds people from its base of users (1.9 million downloads in May 2022 alone) who are near your business. It then encourages them to become customers with timely, relevant offers. Upside guarantees a profit on every transaction, or you don’t pay.

The idea is to help build sustainable local communities by getting people to visit gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. As people earn cash back and businesses earn profit, communities grow stronger and more financially resilient as a whole. Upside counts Shell, BP, and Speedway among its partners.

Learn more at www.upside.com.

Start with dispatch software when modernizing your fuel operations

WPMA and M-PACT 2023 showed distributors how cloud-based software can improve their efficiency, increase margins, and visualize data for better decision-making. Those who adopt these cloud solutions sooner than later are more likely to differentiate themselves from competitors. But where do you begin?

Unified dispatch software is the smartest place to start. A dispatch platform like FleetPanda integrates with your logistics and back office, automating manual tasks and eliminating paperwork. Learn more at www.fleetpanda.com.

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