In October 2015, in cooperation with CODAB, T-Systems and JET Tankstellen, we launched the first next-generation gas station controlled entirely through the cloud. Since then we have received a great number of enquiries from fuel operators interested in following in JET’s footsteps. Many of the companies that contact us, though, are in two minds: interested in the opportunity, but unclear about the benefits the cloud will bring to their business. In other words, this is a question we have heard a lot:
What can a forecourt business gain from moving its gas stations to the cloud?
Let’s begin by clarifying what we are talking about: moving from a conventional gas station setup, with POS, PCs, and server in store, to one where your staff sells using standard tablets, and all servers storing business data and logic are located in the cloud. We believe that this setup is a true revolution for gas stations, for many reasons. Let me present you with the top four advantages of the cloud setup over a traditional one:
1. Lower operational costs
Imagine a traditional gas station. A computer breaks: management needs to either send someone over to repair it, or buy a new one. Both solutions are relatively expensive. Now let’s imagine the same situation in a gas station where sales are managed on a tablet. The tablet breaks? You can just keep a spare one in a drawer, and take it out when needed. Unlike a spare computer, which is expensive, difficult to store and time-consuming to set up, extra tablets are relatively cheap, can be stored easily and set up quickly, without needing a technician’s help. A cloud-based setup can therefore help you minimize expensive on-site service cost, lower regular software maintenance fee and get out of expensive vendor lock-in with end devices. In other words, you will have a system that is cheaper to run and maintain.
2. Ease of operation
The convenience of a cloud-based gas station is not limited to the tablets. When your system is in the cloud, it is managed easily and securely from a central location. This means lower costs in case of upgrades to system components and central logic, as the upgrades only need to be applied to the cloud. This means you will be able to minimize site visits, as there is no need to send technicians to stores with new equipment to install, or to work on POS software. In case of upgrades or changes you can even have tablets ready on-site, or have them sent over by postal service. As the systems consists of standard pieces like tablets at the store, and all data and logic in the cloud, the system is also more fault-tolerant than traditional setup.
3. Shorter time to market
“I can only perform upgrades at my stations once a year. My setup is complex, made of numerous software components with interfaces and dependencies. It is difficult to introduce the new services my business demands. My bosses increasingly want new functionalities, such as integration to mobile for payments, loyalty and offers. With my current setup, this task seems enormous.” Do you recognize this scenario? Then you are probably an IT manager in a traditional forecourt operation. For many forecourt companies, roll-outs of new systems or new functionalities are complex and time-consuming projects. Their current architecture limits their ability to introduce new services. In the cloud setup, all business logic and data are stored in the cloud. Upgrades and new functionalities are therefore much easier to implement and install, giving you a solution that can easily adapt to fast market changes. The world is changing quickly; gas stations controlled through the cloud are better equipped to adapt and thrive in a fast-paced business environment.
The cloud-based setup enables forecourt operators to scale easily, as needs arises. As the servers and operational power are in the cloud, the system can easily be scaled up centrally, in the cloud. Do you need an extra register? Turn on a tablet, and then put it away when peak time is over. Are you planning to set up new stores? That’s quick and simple too, since configuration, data and business logic are all stored in the cloud, and cloud experts take care of the operations of servers and back-office. Are you a gas station operator who wants to take smarter and faster business decisions? Do you want to decrease costs and gain agility? Then the cloud may be right for you. If you are curious about this opportunity but — like many other companies we have talked to — you are afraid of taking this step, check out our blog about some common concerns and their solutions to get over your fears, and take the decisive step onto the cloud.
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