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The plan to make waiting for your gas to pump less boring

Waiting next to the pump could get a lot more interesting. (Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg)

For years, gas stations have had an untapped, captive audience.

“Consumers sit there for two to four minutes doing nothing,” said Travis Bouck, Gilbarco Veeder-Root vice president of marketing, on waiting for one’s tank to fill. ‘We’ve invested a lot of effort to make that two to four minutes more meaningful.”

This year Gilbarco is testing new pumps that use Qualcomm beacons to deliver highly personalized news, information and advertisements on screens built into gas pumps.

The screens are a way for stations to lure customers into their convenience stores for additional purchases. An ad for a snack or drink may play. The videos can also promote a gas station’s loyalty program. Local weather forecasts and sports highlights will be shown. Here’s a sample of what Gilbarco is calling Applause TV:

Gilbarco is focused on making the most of those two to four minutes. It’s currently doing a test in Minnesota where lottery tickets can be purchased at the pump.

“For us it’s all about giving that retailer more interaction with the consumer and creating more engagement points and giving consumers something as well,” Bouck said.

While Gilbarco offer pumps that can use near-field communication and QR codes, the greatest potential lies with beacons. They open the door for seamless mobile payments. Plus, the videos a customer is shown while waiting at the pump can be better customized. For this to work customers will need to download the relevant app or apps, turn on Bluetooth on their smartphone and agree to location monitoring.

These changes to the gas station experience may come faster due to new security standards for credit cards.  Outdoor payment terminals will need to be updated by October 2017 to EMV smart chip cards. These cards include a microprocessor for transmitting encrypted data, making them harder to counterfeit than existing credit cards in the United States.

With pumps already needing updated, it’s a well-timed opening for Gilbarco to sell stations on the merits of installing 10.4-inch screens with beacon technology.

“Our emphasis is really enabling not just this new payment security standard, but adding more return on investment as much as we can,” Bouck said.

Matt McFarland is the editor of Innovations. He's always looking for the next big thing. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.



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Matt McFarland · February 27, 2014

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