A key event in the European Retail Petroleum calendar is being held in Paris on 14th and 15th November. This is the annual conference of the International Forecourt Standards Forum (IFSF).
Each year representatives from both the operator/owner community and the suppliers to the industry come together to explore new technologies and how they can contribute to solving business issues. Last year’s conference, saw a record number of attendees and this year is going to be even bigger! Speakers, who will present on the theme Collaboration and Innovation, include:
- Mark Thomson, Zebra Technologies will give his insight on how leveraging technology can enhance the forecourt experience.
- Graham Richter from Accenture will give an overview of how blockchain works and how this new technology will present unexpected opportunities to the industry.
- Josep Laborda from RAAC will be speaking on the development and commercial launch of the traffic and mobility information service.
- Dan Harrell, Chief Innovation Officer of Invenco will talk about the challenges and costs that suppliers and retailers can face when standards are not being used and how, by collaborating, the industry can enable innovation.
- Francois Mezzina of Total, will give an overview of IFSFs background and how it works. This will be the perfect opportunity to find out more about IFSF, how it collaborates with others to achieve common standards for interoperability and to discuss its future.
The full agenda will be published shortly, so make your reservation now. Conference participants can also attend the Work Group meetings on the 13th November, where discussions will be held on Digital Marketing, EFT & Payments, Device Integration and Security. For more information on the conference and to book, see the IFSF website (https://www.ifsf.org/about/annual-conference-2017-innovation-and-collaboration).
IFSF has been active for nearly 25 years and, over that time, has delivered standards and other guidance papers to help the industry to connect devices and systems in the most effective way. These enable the best technical solution, solving the specific business need, to be delivered without being constrained by the “interface” between the devices or systems. IFSF believes that the time is right to consider how to meet the needs of the industry following the changes that have been seen in the environment over that period. These have affected both the demand side of the industry, with some majors pulling out of direct operations and the growth of petropreneurs, and the supply side, with consolidations and changes of market focus. Consultations are starting with all participants in IFSF to get their views on the future direction and organisation of IFSF and these findings will be shared and discussed at the conference in Paris.
One activity being pursued by IFSF is their project to develop standards for Digital Marketing. This covers a wide range of issues – from loyalty, through coupons and other forms of discounting - that are becoming increasingly important for service station and C-store operators and are often now being delivered in digital form, via a smart phone. IFSF is working with Conexxus, their equivalent in the USA, aiming to make these global standards. Ian Brown, President of IFSF, has identified this as an opportunity for his company to reduce administration costs and to minimise the risk of errors – “The ideal for me would be an electronic way of centrally validating & reimbursing these without much administration by the retailer. I see message standards as a step towards that. In addition, Conexxus have useful manufacturer/CPG members involved who could be a major influence.” IFSF participants are able to join the Digital Marketing working group and their contributions to this work are helping to enhance the product.
People often ask where the benefit lies in adopting standards. These are diverse, as shown by the example of digital marketing or by being able to connect devices from different suppliers without expensive interfacing devices. However, little attention is given to the cost of not implementing standards. Often, site owners are deterred from implementing standards by perceived complications. In reality, thousands of sites worldwide have implemented the standards without any issues and are now able to enjoy the benefits and avoid the costs of not standardising. These costs may include the lack of flexibility in choosing suppliers, delays in bringing features to customers and the cost of paying for proprietary interfaces to be developed.
The conference is open to members and non-members and is an opportunity to get to know more about IFSF and the opportunities it presents, so now is the time to ensure you reserve a place. PW0917