New Zealand: Z Energy offers self-service at the pump

New Zealand: Z Energy offers self-service at the pump

“We have done a lot of work with Invenco; we are long-term customers and continue to value the product and service provided.”    Vance Anderson, Site Systems Manager Z Energy

Situation

The purchase of Shell’s downstream assets in New Zealand by Z Energy signaled a big change. Focus shifted from business strategy being dictated from offshore to the new owners really being able to determine what was best for the local market.

Z Energy’s management team completed a significant amount of research into what New Zealand customers wanted. It embarked on a change program to make it “fast, friendly and hassle free” for customers to do business with them.

Technology underpinned a major part of the change program and one aspect that became a key delivery agent (and required significant investment) was pay-at-the-pump.


Solution

According to Z Energy’s Site Systems Manager, Vance Anderson, there were not a lot of pay-at- pump options in New Zealand at that time.

“New Zealand had largely abandoned earlier generation retail pay-at-pump systems that were installed in the mid-90s,” Vance explains, “at the time fuel customers weren’t as used to self-service payment models as they are now and the technology wasn’t as customer friendly as it needed to be”

The Z Energy team identified a number of reasons why pay-at-the-pump was likely to be more popular with customers this time around:

  1. Buying fuel is not something most customers look forward to and we can help by making this as painless as possible
  2. People generally don’t like to queue – especially for a product they don’t even see
  3. With pay-at-pump you immediately have a dedicated cashier right in front of you with no-one in front of you to slow you down
  4. Customers expect to pay using the same cards and loyalty options they would use instore

“We also needed to prove that – paradoxically – it was beneficial for those who might not even use pay-at-the-pump. Shorter queues in stores means those customers don’t have to wait as long, and if there isn’t that pressing need to join a queue they are more likely to have a look around the store to see if there is anything else they’d like to buy – so impulse purchasing can also increase.”

Pay-at-pump should be a win-win for everyone:

  1. If you like self-service, pay-at-the-pump is fast and efficient
  2. If you don’t like self-service, there is less queueing in store
  3. And if you’re operating the business you can get more throughput as there are fewer queues and the potential for more instore sales because customers may opt to shop as opposed to having to join a queue.

But knowing the theory wasn’t enough

Putting pay-at-pump to the test

“While we knew a lot of this from international research,” says Vance, “one of the reasons we wanted to do some trials was to see it for our own eyes, with our own customers and demographics.”

Z Energy decided to try a few different operating models across a number of different sites:

One card reader serving the entire forecourt

Just having pay-at-pump on the outside lanes

Having pay-at-pump on all lanes.

“We tried to be creative, and a bunch of models met with favorable response – but as it turned out, the most involved option, which was to put self-service on every pump, was also the most effective and that is what we went with,” says Vance. “While what we had predicted was absolutely our experience, it probably even exceeded our own expectations.

“We trialed a number of different options across different sites to determine the best approach. Most were well received but the option that performed the best was a card reader on every pump.”

As a result, we have gone from thinking we would roll out pay-at-pump to 30-40% of our sites, to now having more than 80% of our Z-branded sites with pay-at-pump. If we are building or rebuilding a site, pay-at-pump is automatically included.”


The Outcome

According to Vance Anderson, the on-screen software developed with Invenco meant customers continue to get a Z experience at the pump, by maintaining the Z brand look and feel and offering the same unique options you’d have for instore payment:

  • Pay with any card accepted instore
  • Participate in Z Energy’s loyalty programs
  • Redeem discount vouchers
  • And they see a lot more scope for adding even more services and functionality to that list.

Z Energy has rolled out Invenco self-service technology over 300 sites across New Zealand including retail, truck stops and aviation sites. It not only includes G6 OPTs but using Invenco Forecourt Controllers on all its Z branded sites to seamlessly enable the pumps to speak to Z Energy’s Point of Sale system.

Air stops a different story

While using Invenco for the service station and Truck Stop network came first, the aviation fueling stops had particularly stringent requirements. Vance explains:

“We tendered for new card readers on our 50 air stops, to replace an older white-label system. One of the reasons for particular caution in the aviation industry is that many of our customers are particularly reliant on high-availability, such as emergency services. If they can’t fill up reliably, it can potentially have significant consequences, often with no choice to purchase fuel elsewhere. So we are 100% dependent on the pay-at-pump technology working.

“At the time of making the decision we looked at a number of options but kept coming back to Invenco and decided it was best for us to use the same system across our channels.”

“Invenco’s reliability, robustness and ease of using the technology all played a part.”

Ease of implementing

Another key factor in embracing the new technology was the low level of staff training required. “Training for our site staff was really a single page of bullet points supported by some video material to cover things like managing shift changes, changing a paper roll and answering common customer questions,” explains Vance. “Everyone was very keen to engage on it.”

Continuous improvement

Now Z Energy has the technology in place it is working closely with Invenco to explore new ways of using it. “It’s not something you put in place and then declare it done,” says Vance. “You can always find new applications and functionality to enhance the technology and we look forward to continuing to add to Invenco’s Z Energy story.