ExxonMobil hopes to install automatic payment technology at the pumps of all of its Esso-branded ‘On the Run’ petrol stations in the UK by the end of 2007. Given that over a third of forecourt shop visitors in the UK solely buy fuel, it is wise to encourage speedier transactions and visits, especially at the company’s busiest sites.
By the end of the year, 75 UK Esso-branded petrol stations will have pay at the pump technology.
ExxonMobil had some 910 sites in the UK at the beginning of 2007, 75 of which have shops operating under the Esso ‘On the Run’ brand. This brand is reserved for the company’s prime service station sites, which are equipped with larger convenience stores and food service areas. Esso has made the largest financial investment in these sites due to their desirable locations and high traffic throughput. It is therefore vital that, when motorists choose these service stations, they are provided with optimal levels of customer service, which includes the ability to choose the payment method that best suits their needs. Having pay at the pump facilities enables this to happen.
In the UK, around 36% of visitors to forecourt sites with a shop only purchase fuel but have to wait in the same queues as the 64% of customers making shop purchases. The transaction time for those purchasing non-fuel items is obviously greater as the average forecourt shop customer in the UK has a basket containing three items. Furthermore, when the service station provides a convenience store, such as ‘On the Run,’ customers are likely to be making larger than average grocery purchases, creating a longer than average transaction time.
UK supermarket chain Asda already has pay at the pump technology at its service stations. This makes unequivocal sense for supermarkets, as their petrol stations have far greater daily shop customer numbers than oil company branded stations. This performance is bolstered by the number of motorists that they attract, as evidenced by their average fuel sales per site. With many supermarket forecourt customers having already made their non-fuel purchases at the supermarket, it is estimated that over half of customers simply want to pay for fuel.
Both supermarket sites and the busiest sites of the traditional fuel retailers should give customers the option to pay at the pump, thus avoiding the queues in-store. Otherwise, those motorists that do not want to use the convenience store or the food service area will be inclined to go to the nearest less busy site, which could well be that of a rival player.