Caltex Australia is investing heavily in new technology to make transactions at its petrol stations and convenience store sites more simple and seamless and enhance the customer experience as it expands into new areas, such as fresh food, healthy fast food, parcel collection and other services.
The convenience retailer on Tuesday laid out a vision for the business that includes enabling customers to pay for fuel and pre-order coffee via app and updating prices and promotions in-store using digital signage. It is also testing use cases for payment via facial recognition and number plate recognition.
Caltex believes these innovations will give it a competitive advantage in the lucrative $8 billion and growing convenience market going forward.
“We recently visited some convenience retailers in China and mobile checkout is extremely common,” Viv Da Ros, Caltex Australia’s chief information officer, said in a statement about the convenience retailer’s digital transformation.
The company’s innovation team, based out of the “C-lab”, was able to deliver a prototype of mobile checkout and mobile payments within weeks of the visit to China, and is now working on selecting appropriate sites for live trials, Da Ros said.
This is just one example of the digital-first mindset the company has embraced through its work with technology partner, Microsoft.
“It’s not about isolating a digital lab or a digital strategy, but instead it’s about ensuring seamless connectivity between key systems, processes, operational workflows and customer touchpoints – everything is connected,” Da Ros said about the company’s approach to innovation.
This customer-first approach has led Caltex Australia to consider how it might enter new areas, as including fresh food, healthy fast food, parcel collection and a range of other services, as Australian demographics shift to two-income, time-strapped households.
“The customers of the future will log in to their Caltex app, arrange to pick up the dry-cleaning and select something for dinner. They then drive into the Caltex site and an attendant will come to the car with everything the customer has ordered – including their favourite coffee,” Caltex CEO Julian Segal told the Australian Financial Review.
The technology investment comes as Caltex undergoes a significant transformation to position itself for growth in the highly competitive convenience market. This includes buying back hundreds of franchisee retail sites, growing retail and convenience revenues, strengthening fuel loyalty and embedding a digital-first mentality across the entire organisation.