Gas Stations Should Seek Standardization for Savings, Innovation, Choice

The standardization of service station protocols must accelerate to stay on top of technology and customer expectations.

November 22, 2017

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A white paper by the International Forecourts Standards Forum, Conexxus and Invenco Group has highlighted the urgent need for the adoption of standardized payment protocols in the petroleum forecourt retail sector.

At present, the complexity of integrating new equipment, transaction systems or security protocols into existing operations is adding tens of millions of dollars to the industry’s bottom line. This is because each component has its own, often unique, interface with the other. Rather than address the issue head-on, retailers are typically resorting to bespoke solutions, which drive up costs not only in their implementation but also in retaining the talent capable of maintaining it.

In short, retailers typically select equipment and systems based on its compatibility with the existing infrastructure, rather than by its features, performance or purchase price. This limits both choice and the speed at which innovations can be adopted.

These costs manifest themselves in a variety of ways, including development of the protocols, certifying the various integrations, and the opportunity costs of having to make trade-offs between various component suppliers. While opportunity costs do not always drive visible bottom line results to a business, they do manifest as costs across the business. Delayed rollouts, frustrated customers, procurement challenges and missed functionality all result in various costs to the business. These are the elements that are difficult to measure, but certainly result in tangible impacts to the retailer organization. 

“The good news is these costs are avoidable through retailers and suppliers working together to establish a standard and a certification process which drives common implementations between suppliers,” said Dan Harrell, chief innovation officer at Invenco and the paper’s author. “This standardized approach significantly decreases the costs to suppliers and retailers alike, but must be driven as an industry initiative across all parties. Making a standardized interface available, with common certification, means new features could be added faster, at lower cost and require less testing, allowing retailers and their suppliers to invest in more lucrative directions for the industry, drive innovation and reduce costs to customers.”