Navigating Market Complexities: AI Fuel Pricing in an Ever-Changing World

06.04.2022 | PriceCast Fuel

Today’s times are rather unprecedented.  Just two years ago, when the COVID pandemic really took off, we saw oil prices hit the floor, whilst volumes dropped as a result of lockdowns.  Fuel pricing managers threw their volume budgets for the year out of the window, as they fought to get whatever they could from the stricken industry.  However, users of PriceCast Fuel’s AI engine found solace in the fact that the solution could recognise opportunities, humans missed.  Even during trying times, retailers still managed to do well.

Today we have something new to worry about.  War.  The current Russian invasion of Ukraine has driven oil prices sky-high.  Not only that, the smallest amount of optimism about the situation, sends them tumbling again, only for them to climb. Volumes are being hit, obviously, and fuel pricing managers are in a tailspin, trying to get the right price, whilst balancing rising costs, and keeping the customer happy.  At the end of the day, regardless of where the cost comes from, it is the retailer who is the messenger to the customer, and therefore the first one to take the heat over rising fuel prices.

Over the past few weeks, I have spoken to several retailers.  Some have come to us to say their fuel pricing solution cannot handle the constant changing market conditions and they need something to help them; and some come to us saying they haven’t even got time to think about putting in a fuel pricing system, because they are in chaos over the constant changing conditions.

Okay…I get that.  If you are using a rule-based system, and your competitors suddenly need to change strategy because of the rising costs, then you might find yourself in a sticky position, especially if your costs are higher than theirs.  Similarly, if you need to make multiple price changes per day, and all you have are excel tables and sheets of paper, then you will be buried in paperwork and equations trying to find the right price.  But why?  Why, when a solution exists that does all this for you and more, using self-learning AI technology?

PriceCast Fuel is more relevant than ever.  If you are ignoring the benefits of artificial intelligence making millions of decisions, in micro-seconds, then you are essentially saying you are happy to right-off the next few weeks or months and hope things get better.  Why would you do that?  Why would you risk your health and sanity in panic mode, when the AI can do it all for you?

Think about this scenario.  Your station is on one side of a dual carriageway road.  A competitor is on the other side.  It’s 7am, and your competitor has just changed their price, dropping by 2c/litre.  A kneejerk reaction will be to lower your price too, right?  I mean, it makes sense!  Your competitor just lowered their price, and times are tough, you can’t afford to wait around.  Except, are you sure they are the competition?

Let’s break it down:

– It’s a dual carriageway road and turning to the other carriageway is difficult.

– It’s 7am and the traffic is going in your direction. Getting to the cheaper station may make customers late for work.

– The competitor’s price sign is single-sided, so unless customers are looking in the rear-view mirror, they’re not going to see it.

– It’s windy and raining, and that station is old, with a small canopy, and poor lighting. Whereas your station is bright, modern, clean and inviting.

Some of these are obvious observations, and some are not.  If I’m a fuel pricing manager, managing hundreds of sites, I probably will not see these details.  But PriceCast Fuel does.  The AI recognizes that every time this scenario has happened, it hasn’t changed anything.  The AI will know when the site becomes a competitor, and it will adjust the price when it becomes relevant for the customer.

Now, imagine you have today’s problems to deal with, and on top of that, you are scrambling to find small increments of time to know when to change the price, based on the above breakdown, in order to maximise revenue.  It’s not something which is humanly possible.  And today, only PriceCast Fuel can solve this problem.

The takeaway?  In fuel pricing, yesterday’s problems, today’s problems, and tomorrow’s problems, all can be resolved with PriceCast Fuel. 

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