Worldwide, the fuel industry has come a really long way. What started out as a fuel service alone has, over the years, has morphed into a full-fledged standalone service industry. So what does the future of the fuel industry look like in South Africa and how will our fuel stations of tomorrow set themselves apart and ensure customers pick them over the competition?
Food and Pharmacy
Success in this industry really comes down to what’s on offer and how this can make the consumer’s life better in that particular moment. At the moment, forecourts are all about convenience with the basic grocery essentials at the customer’s finger tips. The customer of tomorrow however, may expect a whole lot more; like a full supermarket, Wifi work stations, hot desks, coffee shops and more. All of this will be expected on top of the usual fuel service. Not only that, but customers will come to expect additional value-adds with increased healthcare support. You’ve seen the pharmaceutical vending machines in the corner of your local petrol station, right? Well this could just be the tip of the iceberg. Tomorrow’s fuel station customer may come to expect a 24 hour pharmaceutical service, and some retailers may even take it further with seating and consultation areas with a nurse on call.
Stations for recycling
The fuel industry has a responsibility to think about the planet. One way to do this is by assisting and encouraging South African motorists to recycle. Already many fuel stations offer collection sites for various recyclables which is a pretty strategic move. This is because the local neighbourhood will come to use these recycling stations every week. And then (while they’re there) they’ll come in and use the other forecourt facilitates at the same time. This is a win-win-win scenario for the retailer, the customer and the planet.
Of the 4600 fuel stations in South Africa, only 54 currently have electric vehicle charging facilities. At present there are around a thousand electric cars in the country. But this environmentally conscious trend is only going to grow, and the fuel industry need to get on board. In fact, connecting with the local electric car community could be a really clever way to build new customer relationships and get ahead of the competition.
Women in the forecourt
When thinking about the future of the fuel industry in South Africa, it’s not only about what services fuel stations will be offering, but also who will be offering them. Service Stations are often central in a community, so the impact and influential role that women play in their communities and families means that fuel stations are often a natural fit for female entrepreneurs. For many years black South African women, have either been excluded or overlooked from business opportunities. Making it so important for women to focus on utilizing their unique position in order to address this. WOESA and The Department of Energy (DOE) are prioritises women’s opportunities in the local gas, oil and energy sector. While the perception exists that the fuel industry isn’t attractive to women, there certainly are those who have stepped into the forecourt, and as a result are making it big in this business.
The bottom line
The future is bright for the local Fuel and Petrol sector. Fuel stations are not necessarily only pit stops, but destinations in their own right. Perceptions are changing alongside customer’s needs. Making this an incredibly exciting industry to play in. The unique thing about this particular industry is how it’s not only responsible for getting people where they need to be, but also because service stations are often at the heart of their communities and ripe for building relationships. So think big and long term and if you need a little assistance funding your fuel station plans, get in touch today.
Apply for a Merchant Capital cash advance today and invest in these innovative changes for your fuel station.