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The transformation of gasoline retailing in China

Deloitte study explores the rise of intelligent equipment and role of clean energy in fast-changing sector

Published: 27 May 2019

Automated, intelligent equipment and new technology in China's gasoline retail space are set to boost efficiency and reduce costs, according to China Gasoline Retailing Development Trends Report 2019 from Deloitte.

At the same time, amid heightened competition and the move towards clean energy, incumbent oil and gas retailers are set to overhaul their service models, the report suggests.

"The sight of refueling by gas station attendants will be consigned to history," says Deloitte China Oil and Gas Sector Managing Partner Chris Roberge. "During automatic refueling, customers will be able to stay in their vehicles and shop for non-fuel products online before driving out of the fueling area to pick up those goods or services."

Intelligent gas station management, meanwhile, is being driven by artificial intelligence, which enables automated monitoring of equipment and fuel products, vehicle tracking and analysis to gain a complete understanding of consumer behavior, as well as intelligent supply chain management.

Addressing the personalization trend, the report suggests big data will be used to analyze customers' spending behavior, creating more accurate profiles on which bespoke sales strategies can be based.

"Stations are going to introduce more bespoke services including special promotions to attract specific consumers," explains Roberge. "They will adjust non-fuel product offerings including car washing and maintenance, as well as add more charging piles given the transition to clean energy."

Several countries have set timelines for bans on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is currently working out a timetable for China to follow suit, the report points out.

But it is not just the public sector taking the lead. China's dominant SUV manufacturer and three other major car companies have promised to stop selling ICE vehicles by 2025 or 2030.

"The transformation of gasoline retailing is already happening," concludes Roberge. "Gasoline retailers will evolve into energy supply companies and their existing gas stations will be transformed into energy supply stations."

 
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