The Changing Role of the Forecourt

Petrol forecourt Chris Palmer

Having worked alongside and provided managed services to one of the largest petrol chemical companies globally it has been interesting to see how the role of the petrol forecourt has changed over the last few years.

It is clear that a forecourt is no longer just for fuel but now a retail outlet with a number of companies introducing a large range of products and services from major branded coffee to major branded food within their stores as companies try and attract more people inside.

This transformation has not finished as we now move into the era of Electric Vehicles (EV) and the increasing need for charging stations. The demand for these charging locations has caused the forecourts to re-think their strategies and of course how to maximise the square footage space of their sites.

This new role of the petrol forecourt brings new challenges, such as how do I have multiple cars parked on site while charging. Moreover, how do I encourage these people to step outside of their vehicles and inside the store to increase and maximise new revenue streams.

There are a number of solutions that are being looked at by companies from internal and external seating and eating areas complemented with convenience machines outside with a greater range of products inside.

However, how do they attract the vehicles in to use their forecourt in the first place. Well, we expect to see things such as Free Wi-Fi allowing people to work while charging, better external signage and I am sure what will also be a factor is the cost of the Electric, which I expect will become part of the forecourt signage at some point alongside the fuel price.

Once I have these vehicles on the forecourt how do I now attract them out of the vehicle and into the store. There will be a number of initiatives used by the forecourts from digital signage, text messaging with incentive vouchers, social media campaigns and loyalty promotions, but the key here is more choice and facilities.

We already see in several European countries this methodology being adopted and we expect to see this happen widely across forecourts in the UK and the rest of Europe over the next few years.

There is now a large push to get ahead of the competition and over the next few years we will see not only existing sites, but new sites appear specifically built for the EV market.