By John Eichberger
BUENOS AIRES – The inaugural NACS Fuels Summit Latin America concluded yesterday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after a day and half of networking and evaluation of trends that will dramatically affect the convenience and fuels retailing market.
Pablo Popik, Subsecretary for Refining and Marketing within Argentina’s Ministry of Energy and Mining, shared with attendees that the Latin American region needs cross-border collaboration to achieve major goals, such as reducing energy consumption and improving the environment.
The Fuels Summit helped facilitated such collaboration, noted Enrique Levallois, executive manager commercial for YPF, who said the event created an environment for operators throughout Latin America to begin generating cross-border relationships that did not previously exist, as well as develop opportunities to grow as an industry by learning together.
The final day of the conference opened with a specific look at the future of fuels, featuring Javier Diaz with S&P Global Platts; Milton Costa, the secretary general of IBP (Brazilian Institute of Petroleum); and Kenneth Siefken, vice president of marketing for Terpel. The general message from this session was that government policy has a major influence on the market, from the introduction of electric vehicles to support for biofuels. However, the consumer must remain the primary target for the retail community, regardless of the types of vehicles they drive.
Gray Taylor, executive director of Conexxus, walked the audience through the catalogue of new technologies that could affect and potentially disrupt the industry. Noting that there is more computing power in today’s smartphones than was required to land a man on the moon, Taylor explained that new technology and computing capabilities can eliminate the need for mobile apps, generating the ability for retailers to delivery loyalty-type, customized services to customers without requiring them to sign up.
Henry Armour, NACS president and CEO, led a discussion with Levellois and Jeff Murphy, NACS strategic partner for Latin America, about the future of fuel retailing. The panel was generally optimistic about the industry going forward, but noted that retailers will have to work hard to achieve success. This includes looking beyond the current channel for new ideas to enhance the customer experience, to create the store as a destination for the consumer and to strive to take friction out of the consumer experience.
The final panel dove directly into the retail fueling experience and how to enhance service for the consumer. Taylor joined Carlos Amorim with Wayne Fueling Systems, and Andre de Stefani with Ipiranga, to discuss new strategies and the direction fuel retailing might take. The audience noted that not one person attending the Fuels Summit operated self-serve fueling stations, and Taylor noted that may be a blessing because full-serve can be a strong strategic advantage in delivering value to the consumer. “Don’t make the same mistakes as America,” he cautioned.
The panel discussed the progression to mobile payments and remote order, both of which are being implemented by Ipiranga. The NACS Fuels Summit Latin America closed with Armour delivering an executive summary of his learnings and observations from the two-day event. He summarized that there are three types of people: those who let things happen, those who make things happen, and those who wonder what happened. “We began to explore the future of fuel retailing at this conference, now let’s go make it happen,” he said.
Look for full coverage of the NACS Fuels Summit Latin America in the January 2018 issue of NACS Magazine, and learn more about NACS international engagement and upcoming global events hosted by NACS at www.convenience.org/international.