AI

How we use Artificial Intelligence

“Artificial Intelligence will disrupt all industries.  Don’t be left behind.”
~Dave Waters, AI Pioneer

Artificial Intelligence is now on everyone’s lips. In the advent of COVID, it has been almost impossible to make precise decisions on pricing, stock management, and other aspects of business, using human analysis of data. The speed of change, along with government legislation, and limited space, means that finding that extra litre, extra gallon, extra cent, extra inch or centimetre of space, is critical for success.


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Understanding who your customer is and why they shop with you is detrimental to ensuring customer satisfaction now and in the future. Only with AI can you keep up with the speed of change, and find those missing pieces.

Why Artificial Intelligence?

Benefits:

24×7 always on, and always learning

Our AI is a neural-net-based self-learning solution, that adapts as your customers adapt to new buying behaviours.

Faster decision making based on more data

The brightest minds can process a lot of information, fast, but not as fast as a computer. The simple fact is, our AI can recognise patterns of behaviour from vast amounts of data, and it can move fast to stay on top of it.

Less human error

By trusting the AI, you are making sure that the guess-work has been removed. If you try to do things by hand, you run the risk of making mistakes, and that means lost revenue, and lost volumes.

Understand the customer

Customer-Centric AI means that you don’t chase the competition, but rather understand the customer, and try to communicate with them via the price.

Upsell and Knock-on benefits

Access to this data and the reports about the customers, means there are chances to understand how to upsell to the customer and when.

Ready yourself for the future

With EV charging remaining a question mark regarding future costs, it is important to quickly learn your P&L when it comes to the cost of EV. AI can already help you scope your costs, pricing a relevant price.

Customer-Centric AI vs Legacy Price Follower

Our solution is based on customer-centric AI, meaning we first analyse customer buying behaviour & perception towards the price, before considering anything else, because in the end, it is the customer who you are selling to, and trying to reach. Legacy Price Follower models mean that you are looking at your competitors and are trying to decide how to stay ahead of them, but that is a risk, as if you are making yourself cheaper than your closest competitor, how do you know the competitor is getting it right?

Read the Customer

Customer-Centric AI constantly reads data to predict customer buying behaviours and sensitivity towards the price and makes recommendations on price which will help understand who is more cost sensitive, product sensitive, etc.

Improve Perception

This pricing can be changed up to 24 times per day, allowing for more granular price changes and few steep drops. This will also improve perception of price, allowing you to find the ideal sweet-spot in terms of volume vs margin.

Continuous Learning

Taking in as much data as possible, in as close to real-time as possible, and then making thousands of neural-net data connections and calculations, to provide the end result, allows the AI to continuously learn and adjust.

Why AI works – Example Use Case

AI Margin Increase

€1.11M, €/yr

Fuel volumes

NetworkAvg. per station/yr
870M liters1.942M liters

Strategic Rule-Based Pricing

%s of stores:Fuel Sold:
36%312M Liters

Restricted AI Based pricing

% of storesFuel Sold:
34%300M liters
€.0032
€/L
€961K
€/yr
€2.9M
€/3yr

Advanced AI Based pricing

%s of stores:Fuel Sold:
1%7.8M Liters
€0.0191
€/L
€149K
€/yr
€447K
€/3yr

A little history of how we got here…

The retail industry has changed rapidly over the last twenty years. Pushed forward by the rise of the World Wide Web, public buying habits have transformed, driven by easier access to data, reviews, and opinion. The advent of social media means that everyone is a critic, and one false move can jeopardise not only sales, but also your brand.

  • 1905

    World’s First Filling Station opens in St. Louis, USA

    It would be another two years before another opens, and the first purpose built filling station, with store for associated products opened in 1913. When the traditional forecourt began, the focus was purely on the sale of fossil fuels and lubricants. Land was purchased with that in mind, and over the 1900s, as the numbers grew, the focus remained on fossil fuels.

  • 1927

    First Convenience Store Opens

    Southland Ice Company, which later is renamed based on their opening hours, 7-11, opens the world’s first Convenience Store. It doesn’t sell fuel. In fact, by the early 1970s, only 6% of all convenience stores sell fuel.

  • 1950s and 1960s

    Self-Service to reduce costs

    The more forecourts expanded, the more legislation was brought in, especially when the environment needed to be considered. Land became more expensive, and various crises over the years led to fluctuations in oil prices, which had a knock-on effect on sales. Retailers began trialing self-service fuel sales, pushing for legislation to allow self-filling.

  • 1970s

    The Energy Crisis hits

    In the 1970s, more and more consumers began to feel the pinch, and demanded more fuel efficient cars. For fuel retailers, this meant a dynamic was beginning to shift. They needed to stay on top of the game and make sure margins stayed up. This meant investing in the convenience store. This was the advent of the fuel/c-store mix.

  • Late 1990s

    The Supermarkets go to War

    By the year 2000, the developed world had well and truly embraced the convenience store, and in the US, fast-food was a staple part of any good c-store offering. Quick-Service Restaurants (QSR) were moving into European forecourts too, as fuel margins began to slip. Add to that the rise of supermarket forecourts and the price wars with them, and retailers needed to move faster to stay on top.

  • 2008

    Hybrid and Fuel Saving

    Come 2008, and the environment was on everyone’s lips, for better or for worse. Hybrid cars were disrupting the industry, and a new player called Tesla was threatening to change the world. On top of that, a mix of the 2008 financial crisis, and a new type of consumer, meant that traditional points-based loyalty was dying rapidly, in favour of targeted customer intimacy. This was the beginning of the age of customer-centricity. Whilst retailers scrambled to understand what this meant, looking at self-service, looking towards cloud technologies, and cost savings, A2i was looking elsewhere – artificial intelligence.

  • 2011

    OK in Denmark Look to A2i

    In 2011, when A2i and OK set out their vision for artificial intelligence for fuel pricing, other retailers were not really considering the benefit of it. Many retailers challenged the notion that electric vehicles would be a disrupter, and there still was little government legislation to suggest fossil fuels would go anywhere soon. However, a few retailers were beginning to open their eyes to new technologies. The era of cloud retail was upon us.

  • 2020

    The Technology Wake-up Call

    Over the next ten years though, things moved blisteringly fast. Governments began to set sunset dates on fossil fuel car sales; tax incentives arrived in many countries for electric cars, especially Scandinavian countries; and cars became increasingly fuel efficient, with the likes of TSI motors and better hybrid models arriving. By 2020, retailers began trying to address the c-store; could selling more coffee and food allow them to reach 50% of their sales revenue indoors?

But movies told us Artificial Intelligence will end civilisation… and other inaccuracies…

Obviously, movies like The Matrix or The Terminator are cult classics, and yes, Hollywood loves to take a great idea and turn it into something fantastic, but let’s be honest, like most things, AI can be used for good, and that’s what we do (no, we haven’t created Skynet). Here are a few concerns and inaccuracies, that we’d love to put to bed.

I’ve been doing just job for years, I’m not going to give it up to a computer!
AI Will Put Us All Out Of A Job! Technology Will Ruin Everything!

I’ve been doing just job for years, I’m not going to give it up to a computer!

AI Will Put Us All Out Of A Job! Technology Will Ruin Everything!

No, we are not looking to put anyone out of a job. Think of AI as a tool, designed to empower you to do your job better and easier. No more sleepless nights wondering if your competitor will have better prices than you, no more spending time reading spreadsheets and trying to think tactically. Now you have the tools to go forward and think strategically. Am I reaching my volumes? Should I be focusing on the weekend? What is the company looking to achieve next month? What should I tell the AI to do next?

Driving down prices will just cause losses for all retailers, and can lead to tax hikes.
If Everyone Uses AI, Won’t They Start An AI Price War?

Driving down prices will just cause losses for all retailers, and can lead to tax hikes.

If Everyone Uses AI, Won’t They Start An AI Price War?

Simple answer, no. Complex answer, definitely not. The AI works on the basis of customer centricity, meaning we analyse customer buying behaviour and work towards that. If another AI is running at a competitor, they will also analyse their customer’s buying behaviour and target them. This isn’t about setting the lowest price, but rather identifying and training the customer to change their habits in order to get the best deal for them, whilst helping you achieve your KPIs.

Why should we trust AI, when my vacbot keeps falling down the stairs?
I Have A Robot Vacuum Cleaner, And That Thing Is Dumb!

Why should we trust AI, when my vacbot keeps falling down the stairs?

I Have A Robot Vacuum Cleaner, And That Thing Is Dumb!

In the same way that there are good and bad robot vacuum cleaners, there’s good and bad AI. Our AI is self-learning built by us in a closed-loop system. Yes, we know there are legacy fuel pricing companies out there using the term AI now, but that doesn’t mean they have a good AI, or any AI at all for that matter (no, Powerpoint slides showing what they’d really, really like to have, doesn’t count as having it!). Our AI is not only installed in thousands of locations, but it works, and we have the happy customers to prove it.

Won’t AI just see opportunities to rip us all off?
A Human Will See A Hurricane And Will Abide By Price Gouging Laws

Won’t AI just see opportunities to rip us all off?

A Human Will See A Hurricane And Will Abide By Price Gouging Laws

As customer-centric AI, it makes zero sense for the AI to squeeze the customer, as the AI needs to work with the idea that you need the customer to keep wanting to return. The fact is, in a real-life situation in the USA not long ago, our AI not only met state laws, it behaved highly ethically. That aside, if you want to make certain that state laws are considered, we can always feed these laws into the AI, so that it knows its restrictions.

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