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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Gilbarco Veeder-Root’s 2017 Retail Technology Conference took place last week in Myrtle Beach, where retailers and fuel operators congregated for a tradeshow and a slate of presentations that focused on security, connectivity and profitability.
With the theme of “Secure, Connected & Profitable: The Future of Convenience and Fuel Retailing,” Gilbarco’s four-day conference included a number of general information sessions and educational breakouts to help those in attendance learn how to leverage technology to bolster their businesses. Presenters covered a range of topics relevant to retailers and fuel operators, including the Cloud, PCI, EMV, Passport, and more ways to boost business through the use of technology.
In addition to the breakout sessions run by Gilbarco team members, the conference had four presentations put on by featured guest speakers: futurist Doug Stephens, Steve Scarince of the U.S. Secret Service, entrepreneur Shama Hyder, and Cognizant’s Prasad Satyavo.
Here's a recap of those presentations:
The Future of Retail
Futurist Stephens, the founder of Retail Prophet, kicked off the conference with a presentation on The Future of Retail, during which he explained that companies can often fall victim to the psychological pitfall of having a world view shaped by the era in which one experiences the greatest success, and neglect to embrace the changes that the future demands.
Using Amazon as an example of a vital company, Stephens pointed to its convenience store prototype Amazon Go and warned of the possibility that Jeff Bezos might eventually steer his company toward branded gas stations. “Amazon is moving into categories that offer frequency; frequency of service,” he explained.
How do convenience stores compete? According to Stephens, it’s essential to test out new ideas, particularly ones that serve to improve the “experience.” He explained to the crowd that “futurism is understanding what is around us today and, based on that, it’s making the future that you want.”
Stevens was followed up by Scarince, a secret service agent who delivered a presentation on Payment Security. Scarince dove into Canada’s full-scale EMV conversion, EMV outdoors, breaking payment, offline transaction fraud, the evolution of pump skimmers, and how law enforcement goes about developing a case.
Providing on-the-job anecdotes, he shared his belief that there needs to be a reduction in card-not-present fraud. He also spoke at length about the difference between J1 Visa identity theft, as well as the difficulty in catching criminals who are now using credit card skimmers that don’t feature a USB, and how long it takes to break cases.
Scarince pointed out that while EMV is preferable to magnetic stripe, it’s far from fraud-proof. Criminals, according to Scarince, always tend to catch up to new technology. For now, however, he said he’s yet to have a case where someone has learned how to collect information from contactless payment (ApplePay, AndroidPay, etc.) at the pump.
Marketing to Millennials
Day two of the conference kicked off with a presentation by Hyder, CEO of the Marketing Zen Group, who was invited to share insight about millennials and their influence on the convenience store business.
Hyder, who wrote her senior thesis about Twitter when it had less than 1,000 members, declared: “People are now the media.”
What that means for businesses in general and convenience stores in particular is that both the good and the bad — and the mediocre (also bad) — is more easily amplified to the masses than ever before. And leading the amplification are millennials.
Hyder offered up five ways for retailers to get up to speed with millennials:
- Identity-based ecosystem;
- Make ETC (education, transparency, choices) your mantra;
- Recognize the diversity, cultivate loyalty;
- Think multi-channel; and
- Leverage other millennials.
Hyder encouraged retailers to ask themselves: “What does doing business with you allow customers to say about themselves?”
The Connected Car: How Is It Moving?
Satyavolu, the global head of consulting and innovation at Cognizant Technologies, strived to explain what the connected car will mean to c-stores in the years ahead. He broke the discussion into three parts: inside the car, around the car, and beyond the car.
“Don’t put the cart before the horse; put the people in the car,” Satyavolu cautioned.
As smart cars and driverless cars become more mainstream, it could change road infrastructure, he pointed out. If cars are intuitively aware of the location of other cars, do they ever need to stop at a light? How does that affect how retailers choose their locations?
Satyavolu argued that V2X could very well lead to safer roads and greater convenience for potential c-store customers. And with brands like GM, Toyota, Audi, Ford/Delphi, Nissan and Honda moving forward with plans for smart cars, retailers need to consider how they might need to reimagine their businesses to cater to the customers who buy them.
Greensboro, N.C.-based Gilbarco Veeder-Root Inc. is a worldwide technology provider for retail and commercial fueling operations.