ATLANTA — More than 23,500 individuals from 69 countries attended the 2019 NACS Show in Atlanta, which delivered four days of learning, insights, networking, and exploring what’s new and exciting for the global convenience and fuel retailing industry.
As always, one of the highlights of NACS Show 2019 was the expo floor, which this year spanned 425,000-plus net square feet and featured more than 1,200 exhibitors, from startups to big brands. The expo floor also included the New Exhibitor Area, 20,000 square feet of dedicated expo space spotlighting more than 200 companies brand-new to the show; and an all-new CBD Pavilion, a partitioned section of the expo that showcased hemp-derived CBD products from 50 industry suppliers.
The Convenience Store News editorial staff was out in force meeting with suppliers and checking out all the expo floor happenings. Here’s our rundown of the top technology takeaways.
Solutions to Stay Competitive
The technology section was one of the NACS Show expo’s hottest areas as retailers searched for the solutions they need to stay competitive in today’s fast-changing market. Frictionless, digital transformation, mobile, and network connectivity were among the buzz words.
Here’s a sampling of the equipment, services and solutions that were spotlighted by exhibitors:
Cybera’s networking technology solves one of retailers’ biggest security concerns: third-party remote access to their network for remote servicing. The company’s all-in-one device replaces several different pieces of equipment in the store that serve network functions.
Cybera has been busy upgrading customers this past year. “We are doing so much business with the c-store industry, we can barely keep up,” said Paul Melton, senior vice president and general manager of petroleum. “We basically stabilize the retailer’s network now to be future-ready for digital transformation.”
Cybera’s technology also solves networking issues associated with outdoor EMV compliance, while helping stores increase engagement and loyalty through an improved customer experience.
Diebold Nixdorf showcased its Vynamic FCx Self-Checkout at the show. The company feels that the fuel and convenience retailing industry is moving beyond traditional fuel interactions and creating a more consumer-centric store. Advanced technology is enabling self-checkout to meet these needs. Diebold Nixdorf representatives discussed the company’s role in streamlining in-store processes and enabling convenience store retailers to engage their customers.
Fujitsu was showing lots of cutting-edge retail point-of-sale (POS) and store technology solutions to help retailers drive down costs and increase productivity. Paul Kennedy, head of retail industry for Fujitsu, told CSNews that because customer expectations are rising all the time, retailers’ in-store staff need more effective tools to provide excellent customer service from the moment the customer walks through the door. Fujitsu’s latest POS and mobile store solutions are helping retailers rise to this challenge.
“I’ve talked to several retailers who’ve wanted to discuss legacy technology and how to unencumber themselves from proprietary technology that they’ve been using to date,” said Kennedy.
Fujitsu Frontech North America offers a wide range of self-service and cash-handling products designed to fit any budget, volume and configuration requirements. Among them:
- U-Scan Mini Express: A compact, configurable self-checkout solution that can fit into any retail environment;
- Impulse: A small self-checkout station ideal for use in convenience stores; and
- ConveniCash: An intelligent cash-handling payment station for front of store, under the counter or back office.
The GetUpside mobile app multiplies the average number of customer visits and average monthly spend by a factor of three, according to company representatives. As previously reported by CSNews.com, Circle K is rolling out the GetUpside platform at more than 4,000 stores in the U.S.
GetUpside provides personalized consumer offers through a mobile app, incentivizing new customers to visit a particular location and existing customers to visit more often. Retailers need only to provide anonymized transaction logs and continue business as usual, explained Chief Revenue Officer Jen Millard. Merchants see results in real time, increasing insights and profits, while consumers save on everything from food to gas.
More than 12,000 locations in 41 states are currently on the GetUpside platform.
“One of the benefits of GetUpside is that it works just as well as a complement to a retailer’s existing loyalty program or by itself for retailers without their own loyalty program,” explained Millard.
There’s no upfront investment for the retailer and no training required, although GetUpside does take a percent of the incremental profits on each transaction.
Gilbarco Veeder-Root launched the Encore Experience, a cloud-based open applications platform that enables retailers to customize on-screen experiences to entertain customers at the forecourt and drive them into the store. Retailers can create their own apps or use Gilbarco-built or third-party developed apps to remotely and securely deploy content and functionality to their Encore dispenser screens.
In its effort to make electric vehicle (EV) charging broadly accessible in the c-store industry, Gilbarco also announced the availability of payment options for the Veefil RT-50kW EV chargers made by Tritium. Outdoor payment is accomplished through the integration of a credit card reader that allows EV customers to pay at the charger using debit or credit cards, or though contactless methods such as Google Pay or Apple Pay. In addition, in-store payment options allow c-store operators to control the chargers on-site. Unlike charging solutions that require membership, in-store payment options work alongside the POS terminal to allow any consumer to charge their vehicle.
National Carwash Solutions
National Carwash Solutions (NCS) announced a new strategic partnership with Carwash Solutions, a large regional equipment and service provider. With the new deal, NCS now services customers in the greater Mid-Atlantic region, including Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and South Carolina. NCS brands include MacNeil, Ryko, TSS, CleanTouch and Vacutech.
OPW, a Dover company and a global leader in fluid-handling solutions, displayed its latest fueling and car wash innovations. Among them:
- High-Flow Dispenser Sump: As the newest addition to the prefabricated Loop System for fuel dispensing, this sump handles high-flow applications for retail truck stops and hybrid convenience stores that have high-speed diesel lanes. The new High Flow Loop System includes a 3-inch fuel pipe, 6-inch access pipe for retractability, 2-inch impact values, and satellite loop sumps for fuel dispensing on both sides of a high-speed truck lane.
- Cleaner Fueling Nozzles: The newly added 14BP model combines patented, free-draining, dripless-spout technology from the 14E (still the industry’s only CARB-approved dripless conventional nozzle) with technologies from the industry standard OPW 11BP nozzle, creating a new standard for both dripless gasoline and diesel capture nozzles.
- Belanger Cube Wash: This friction in-bay automatic vehicle-wash system features special brushes that deliver a quiet and gentle washing experience while providing more than four times the cleaning touches of traditional brushes. The Cube can be outfitted with patented LED illuminated wash wheels, designed to attract more customers and enhance navigation.
Retailers are asking for solutions that reduce complexity and points of friction, and improve visibility across their business, according to Drew Mize, executive vice president and general manager for PDI’s ERP Solutions. PDI has invested heavily in developing solutions to address these needs, as well as the smart integration of its solutions.
At the show, the company unveiled the PDI Offer Network. PDI Marketing Cloud Solutions expanded its Elevate service that provides c-store retailers the ability to optimize CPG trade funds. With more than 30,000 locations, the PDI Offer Network includes chains, independents and single-store operators across the U.S., unlocking promotional and analytical tools previously not available to retailers or accessible to CPGs.
CPG brands gain deeper customer and product insights by accessing quality data from large retail chains and single-store operators. PDI’s recent acquisition of CStorePro brings transactional data from more than 4,500 single-store operator sites, making the PDI Offer Network unique in the industry.
Large inside-the-store LED displays are the new big thing in promotional signage, noted Dave Warns, vice president of on-premise sales for WatchFire Signs. Convenience stores have been the fastest-growing segment of WatchFire’s business, according to Warns, who explained that the channel’s increased focus on foodservice has created a demand for better visuals to show off the higher-quality prepared foods being offered. New technology provides unparalleled resolution.
Zynstra shared highlights of its recent survey of U.S. c-store IT directors and managers.
Key takeaways included:
- Only 18 percent of c-stores have the right POS infrastructure to serve their business now and in the future;
- 43 percent of c-store retailers say the cost of sending IT teams to make upgrades is a top challenge when rolling out new applications;
- Only half of c-store retailers say their current IT store infrastructure enables innovation and better in-store customer experiences; and
- 96 percent of c-store IT leaders agree that if it was easier to implement new applications and services, they would do it more often.
“Retailers’ interest in frictionless technology, like scan-and-go, mobile POS and line-busting, is hampered by aging IT infrastructure,” said Zynstra Vice President of Global Marketing Gavin Bisdee. “The timing is right for simplified, secure and scalable technology like what we offer.”
The 2019 NACS Show took place Oct. 1-4 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.