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How can fuels retailers remain competitive?

by Zahra Bahroloumi

Retail trends are consistently pointing toward consumers’ hunger for a consistent, relevant and convenient customer experience. The time-constrained and tech-savvy social media-tuned consumer is driving consumption patterns in line with their lifestyle and daily working routines. Fuels retailers cannot afford to fall short in delivering basic customer needs, particularly when the leading hypermarkets can mobilize and respond to customer demand in increasingly sophisticated ways. Accenture believes fuels retailers should focus on three key aspects of their service to maintain their competitiveness in an ever-competitive industry:
  • Customer focus, to understand what a convenient and relevant offer looks like at every site in the network
  • Excellence in customer service provision, delivered at every site in the network, to confirm a consistent customer experience
  • Speed to market, to maintain relevance across the retail portfolio.
How can fuels retailers go the distance?
Rebuilding market share requires strategic planning and the ability to implement change. Accenture believes that providing greater value to customers means acknowledging environmental and internal blockers, and understanding how to manage them. The following graphic describes some of the key factors fuels retails must navigate to remain competitive:
The following graphic describes some of the key factors fuels retails must navigate to remain competitive
Highlights include:
  • Orientate toward the customer and understand how they can influence your brand. Put the customer at the heart of every business decision. Simplicity, ease and convenience are priorities in the era of digitization, smartphones and social media. Retailers can make the most of increasingly rich sources of data—information on sales, inventory, energy and space utilization, and customer through-flow—to gain new insights into ways to improve the business.
  • Use technology to augment the customer experience and capitalize on the need for convenience. Adopt agile architecture and leverage supplier relationships to support fast-changing customer needs and enhance business capabilities.
  • Pay attention to real estate. A strong physical presence, effective store layout and real estate analytics can drive savvy investment decisions and an appealing customer experience.

Business leaders need to identify the right combination that provides the greatest return on investment for their business and customer mix.


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Infographic: Innovating for Convenience

A great inforgraphic from Smart Action examining what customers want from their retail experience and how cloud technology can help retailers improve business performance.

Innovating for Convenience



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What does 2014 hold for the hospitality industry?

Hospitality Trends

In 2014 consumers will start to find themselves with more disposable income so what are going to be the big trends this year?

Fast casual and casual dining options are set to be popular as more consumers are opting for value for money as well as flexible dining options. With meals costing between £5 – £20 per head this option is proving very popular with the majority of consumers.  

Whilst 2013 saw a massive increase in the popularity of burgers, in 2014 we are increasingly going to see chicken on the menu. The drop in price of poultry will make it a particularly attractive option for restaurateurs, whilst prices for beef and cheddar will remain high.

Pubs may be finding it difficult at the beginning of 2014 with consumers cutting back in January. Despite this we will continue to see pubs benefitting from the craft beer trend – the sector grew by 79% in 2013 and there are high hopes for the sector this year.

We will also see a continued demand for high quality coffee and consumers will be looking to pair coffee with a meal instead of alcohol. See our article on why pubs should be placing greater emphasis on soft drinks as well as coffee.

In a world where consumers are constantly on the move, technology will also be playing an important role in the hospitality industry this year. Pre-ordering apps and mobile phone payments are set to be popular this year.

To see the full article on what we can expect in 2014 for the hospitality see:

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Major Trends within Convenience Retail

Shopping wall

With an increasing number of consumers shopping little and often, the world of convenience retail has not only experienced growth but also change. There have been a number of key developments within the convenience store sector including:

  1. Expansion
  2. Food to Go
  3. Click and Collect
  4. Integrated online shopping experience



The growth of convenience has not gone unnoticed by the multiples and this has meant that they have sought to expand within the convenience sector, acquiring sites in order to capitalise on the convenience industry. We have seen this in the UK with Morrison’s MLocal as well as Sainsbury’s Local (amongst others). However, this development is not just limited to the UK.  Multiples such as Reitan and Valora in Europe have also grasped this opportunity. They have expanded through acquisition, with 72.3% and 85.0% year on year uplift in store numbers respectively in the year to June 2012 [Verdict Retail ‘European Convenience Retail].

Food To Go

Increasingly consumers are turning to their convenience stores to grab a quick bite, be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Convenience stores have come on leaps and bounds within this category, creating stores whose sole purpose is food to go, with express check outs and in-store microwaves. There has also been a shift in competition with some c-stores viewing McDonald’s and Starbucks as the main competitors to their food to go options.

Click and Collect

Many convenience stores have taken advantage of integrating online shopping within their stores. Click and collect offers customers the opportunity to order items online but then to collect them from a locker within a c-store. There is then the possibility for them to stock up on any items they may need at home within the store.

Integrated Shopping Experiences

Further ahead, convenience stores are at looking at enticing customers through shopping walls in areas such as train stations. Customers can then choose items on the wall via an app which they can then pick up at the end of their commute. The walls are also designed to encourage customers to plan their next meal and what they need to buy.

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PayPal Beacon to beam automatic, hands-free mobile payments

PayPal Beacon“PayPal Beacon opens the door to a fundamentally different way to use technology to make shopping more valuable and more personal for consumers and retailers,” said David Marcus, president of PayPal.

So while swiping and tapping cards may have only recently become a norm for most, PayPal is pushing for more – or less, so to speak.

“We challenged ourselves to find a better experience than swiping a credit card. We figured the only better way to pay would be to do nothing,” he said.

“Just walk in a store, and, like magic, when you’re ready to pay, money is transferred securely. No wallet. No card. Nothing to do. Not even touching your phone.”

Hands-free payment

According to PayPal, on the merchants end, Beacon is a simple add-on USB to any Point-of-Sale systems that are compatible with PayPal.

Users will have the option to set which stores they automatically get checked into (as in your usual morning coffee shop), which ones will have automatic payments and which will require approval for payments.

“Consumers will have full control of stores they will want to check in to, those they will want to get prompted to confirm payment for, and stores they will want to enable a complete hands-free experience for,” PayPal said.

PayPal also assures us that customer’s won’t be tracked and unless you check-in, no information will be passed onto PayPal or the merchant.

While all this hands-free shopping sounds very exciting, the Beacon device won’t be ready for merchants until next year.

And of course, there may also be hiccups with wrongful charges or customers walking away without paying, but we’d assume all these will be ironed out by PayPal by next year.


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Cards or Cash? Which do you prefer?

cards or cash

Following on from our article regarding the decline of paper money , it has come to light that 60% of consumers have said they would use smaller businesses more often if they accepted card payments. Taxis, pubs and market stalls are generally losing out on business due to the lack of flexibility in payment options. 78% of consumers are only carrying around £20 – £30 on them and tend to go to larger retail businesses where flexible payment options are available.

iZettle have tried to rectify this by creating a card reader that can be attached to phones or tablets. To find out more on iZettle why not take a look at our article iZettle and the modernisation of money.

Do you accept card payments in your retail business? If not, do you think footfall would increase if your customers were given more flexible payment options?

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Einzelhandel im Franchising: Chancen und Herausforderungen im Zeitalter des Webs 2.0

Here’s a great article from Torben Leif Brodersen (CEO, German Franchising Association, DFV) on retail franchising. It discusses how we should consider other areas of retail as well as the large supermarket and food chains.

It mentions that these other retail areas (such as clothing, electronics, furniture etc) make up 27% of the franchise economy (according to a study carried out by the DFV) and almost 30% of total sales in Germany (HDE study). However, Herr Brodersen also discusses the rise of internet and that all franchise retailers should consider this channel to reach consumers quicker and meet their needs faster.

Many Thanks to Herr Brodersen for the contribution.


Online shoppingWer Einzelhandel hört, denkt zunächst an Supermärkte und die großen Lebensmittelketten. Aber das ist längst nicht alles, wie die vielen Bekleidungs-, Möbel-, Sportartikel-, Spielzeug- oder Elektronik-Fachgeschäfte zeigen, die im klassischen Sinne zum Einzelhandel dazu gezählt werden. Dass wiederum die Franchisewirtschaft viele dieser Sparten abdeckt, ist kein Geheimnis: Laut der aktuellen Studie des Deutschen Franchise-Verbandes e. V. (DFV) zur Entwicklung der Franchisewirtschaft stammen 27 Prozent der Systeme aus dem (Einzel-)Handel.

Diese Systeme stellen damit eine tragende Säule im Franchising dar und gehören gleichzeitig zur starken Mitte des gesamten Einzelhandels, die aus inhabergeführten und selbstständigen Facheinzelhändler und Lebensmittelhändler besteht. Denn laut Handelsverband Deutschland (HDE) erwirtschaftet diese Gruppe knapp 30 Prozent des Gesamtumsatzes in Deutschland. Was den Einzelhandel – ganz gleich ob im Franchise oder nicht – eint, ist der Dienstleistungsgedanke: Unternehmen bieten ihren Kunden Services und Angebote, um sie zu gewinnen oder zu binden. Hierzu zählt seit Jahren beispielsweise auch das Online-Shopping. Die Entwicklung macht es deutlich: Wurden laut HDE vor rund zehn Jahren „nur“ 2,5 Mrd. Euro Umsatz erzielt, so liegt die Quote momentan bei rund 29,1 Mrd. Euro. Und für 2013 wird der E-Commerce-Umsatz noch weiter wachsen.

Der Onlinehandel ist auch für das Franchising wichtig, da sich Kunden immer mehr vorab im Internet informieren. Wenn Kaufinteressenten dann noch die Möglichkeit haben, den gewünschten Artikel bzw. das gewünschte Produkt direkt online zu beziehen, sich Verbraucher in der Regel schneller bereit, zu kaufen. Darüber hinaus ist es eine Tatsache, dass Online-Käufer öfter einkaufen und auch mehr Geld ausgeben. Dieses Potenzial sollte die Franchisewirtschaft nutzen.

Allerdings wird im Franchising zu diesem Thema immer wieder ein vermeintlicher Konflikt heraufbeschworen: Es heißt dann, dass von den Gewinnen aus einem Online-Shop beim Franchisenehmer nichts ankommt. Viele Franchisesysteme, die bereits auf einen Online- bzw. Multi-Channel-Vertrieb setzen, beweisen allerdings das Gegenteil. Eine etablierte Möglichkeit ist, dass Franchise-Unternehmen im Internet generierte Umsätze in einen gemeinschaftlichen Werbepool einfließen lassen – zum Vorteil von Franchisegeber und Franchisenehmer. Dieses Beispiel hat bereits etliche Nachahmer gefunden. Franchisegebern, die sich mit dem Thema noch nicht auseinandersetzen, rät der DFV, sich der Entwicklung nicht zu verschließen, da die Bedeutung des E-Commerce sicherlich noch weiter zunehmen wird. Wichtig ist auf jeden Fall, dass Franchisegeber gemeinsam mit den Franchisepartnern Lösungen finden, von denen alle profitieren.

 Torben L. Broderson (DFV)