Petroleum/General Equipment: Regular, Premium or Reuben?
About six in 10 fuel customers pay for their purchase at the pump, according to research by VideoMining Corp. And of all fuel customers, only four in 10 make a purchase from the convenience store. This presents a major challenge for retailers, who generate most of their profits inside. But Scott Zaremba, owner of Zarco USA, thinks he has found a solution.
Zarco USA, Lawrence, Kan., has nine locations in the Sunflower State. Zaremba has made his name selling and promoting ethanol blends, but has recently been hit with heavy fuel competition from two large retail chains, both with an aggressive pricing strategy and large-format stores.
Rather than attempting to beat the competition on fuel price, Zaremba is banking on his made-to-order sandwich offer, Sandbar Subs, to help differentiate his sites. But the trick is getting customers at the pump to make a foodservice purchase—and for that, the retailer turned to a technological solution.
Zaremba partnered with Peter Tawil, a technology expert, to develop a ruggedized tablet and Web-based ordering app that a retailer could install on existing dispensers and allow customers to make an inside purchase at the pump. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certified the 10.4-inch tablet and app, named Siris, after months of testing and development.
At the time of publication, Zarco USA had the ordering system installed at two sites.
“We need to do things to bring products to the customer,” Zaremba told Convenience Store Products. “It’s 5 minutes that consumer is [at the pump], and they are there not nearly as many times as they used to be. We need to do everything we can while they’re there.”
At the pump, a touch screen greets customers by inviting them to order a Sandbar Sub. In the ordering app, customers select the type of sandwich, spreads and other toppings and then enter their name. Once they submit the order, it is printed inside the store’s kitchen for employees to assemble. The customer must go inside the store to pay.
The next version of Siris will allow customers to pay at the pump through a credit-card reader or QR code display. While this functionality might dissuade customers from going inside the store, Zaremba says the whole point of the system is to generate more inside sales.
Signal Peak Designs, Costa Mesa, Calif., sells Siris at the price of $750 to $950 per unit, depending on the quantity, and has a 36-month service agreement for $1 per day. It can install on an existing Gilbarco Encore or Wayne Ovation fuel dispenser.
For now, Zarco USA is selling just its Sandbar Subs from the tablet, but Zaremba envisions the ability to sell oil changes from the local oil-change shop and even clothing via the pump.