Gas Pump of the Future Sees You Coming

Multi-screen mobile commerce is starting to blend with targeted advertising at the gas pump.

At the National Retail Federation Expo this week, I visited with a gas pump manufacturer that demonstrated the gas pump of future, replete with embedded Bluetooth technology to identify customers as they approach the pump.

Commerce at the gas pump is hardly new, as motorists have for many years pumped their gas then paid by credit card at the pump or cash in the nearby kiosk or store.

And the idea of a gas pump recognizing you as you approach the pump also is hardly a new concept.

However, what is novel here is the very tight integration of mobile commerce and targeted advertising with the gas pumping activity by the available and stationary consumer.

And this is not from a mobile startup but from Gilbarco Veeder-Root, the world’s largest manufacturer of gas pumps, point of sale systems and other gas station equipment.

Earlier this week, Gilbarco announced that it bought Outcast Media, which operates a network of digital video displays in gas pumps.

The pump I saw at the NRF show had Qualcomm’s Gimbal proximity beacon installed in the pump, which can recognize approaching phones of customers who have opted in to the program.

As the consumer approaches, payment options are offered on the consumer’s smartphone, where the transaction originates rather than at the pump.

As the consumer pumps, targeted commercials play on the pump screen, with associated offers sent to the phone.

The smartphone and pump screen messaging is based on information such as from a loyalty program, and could include name, location, gender and associated loyalty behavior, according to Parker Burke, director of marketing, payment and media solutions, who showed me the system at the show.

Gilbarco has a base of about 60,000 gas stations and the Outcast network reaches more than 20,000 screens.

The messaging can include instant and stored smartphone coupons based on the pump commercials in hopes of driving more customers into the gas station stores, much more profitable than the gas.

At the end of the pumping, the consumer completes the purchase via smartphone.

You can expect to see these pumps showing up in the first half of this year, says Burke.

Paying at the pump is about to become more mobile.

8 comments about "Gas Pump of the Future Sees You Coming".
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  1. Michael Natale from MCM Media Sales, January 15, 2014 at 4:13 p.m.

    Chuck great article but one correction. You pay by credit card, then pump your gas....not the reverse as you state.

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, January 15, 2014 at 5:03 p.m.

    Thanks, Michael, you are technically correct that a person swipes the card before pumping, though is for authorization, since the amount to be paid is not yet known.

  3. Michael Natale from MCM Media Sales, January 15, 2014 at 5:43 p.m.

    Very good point.

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, January 15, 2014 at 5:46 p.m.

    Thank you. Interestingly, the mobile payment integration eliminates the credit card swipe altogether.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 15, 2014 at 9:07 p.m.

    I would change gas stations. None of their business. We are going to be controlled.

  6. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, January 15, 2014 at 9:20 p.m.

    The programs are opt-in by smartphone owners, Paula, so only consumers who want it would receive the mobile ability to pay and receive the associated offers. They can opt out at any time.

  7. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, January 16, 2014 at 5:33 a.m.

    Distracting customers with commercials is a lawsuit magnet, when filling up with the wrong type of fuel can cost $1000 in repairs, so I hope they drop that part.

  8. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, January 16, 2014 at 10:18 a.m.

    Videos at pumps have been available for many many years, Pete. The difference here may be that better targeting makes them more interesting to watch, which, yes, ultimately could be distracting.

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