blog eye-opening

The first Amazon of filling stations has such an incredible advantage

What does the filling station customer of the future want? And which choices do you have to make today as an entrepreneur? These questions were answered by the author Steven van Belleghem, main speaker at BigBrother’s Fuel Day on Thursday 22nd March 2018 in Ede, the Netherlands. Steven was this year’s host. His latest book appeared recently: Customers the day after tomorrow. This is part one of the interview with the author.

The same refuelling perception for 23 years

When it comes to customer experience, the petrol and carwash sector has much to gain, notes Steven. "Some 23 years ago I filled my car for the first time. If I go and fill up nowadays, there is zero difference in the experience. Almost nothing has changed! That's inconceivable, don't you think?”

I'm in a hurry!

Steven explains how he usually experiences filling up. "I'm in a hurry! And I'm hungry. I'm forced to grab a pre-packed sandwich, because outside the office hours there are generally no freshly made sandwiches left. I go to the pay-desk. There's a customer in front of me who needs help. So I wait and wait, but a 2nd pay-desk doesn't open. I eat my sandwich at a bar table with a built-in waste bin right in front of me. It goes without saying that I'm not happy when I step back outside."

The ultimate filling station experience

Steven's ultimate customer experience at a filling station would be as follows. "I pre-order a fresh-cut sandwich from the car. Both my car and I are recognised as soon as I drive into the station. I am greeted with: ‘Mr van Belleghem, I have your sandwich here.’ If I have enough time, I can seat and eat it at a comfy table. Afterwards, I simply walk out. Payments for the fuel and shop are done fully automatically.”

Fine as it is?

This is not even the most futuristic scenario that Steven is sketching. When will this become reality? "I hope shortly, but I expect it is not going to happen any time soon. The branch is tied up in the shit of yesterday. There's no much feeling of urgency. The tone is: everything is fine as it is, right?”

Food retail shaken awake

Steven illustrates how that ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude can be disastrous. "The American food retail sector thought that e-commerce wouldn't take off so fast. Until Amazon introduced an online groceries service and took over Wholefoods, a chain of quality supermarkets, in June 2017. The whole sector has been turned upside-down; prices have fallen by 30 to 43 % in the US. European supermarket chains also lost shareholder value and it's just a question of time before Amazon also enters this market in Europe.”

Translating tomorrow to now

Right. So that has to be done differently. And not only because of doom scenarios, but especially because of the opportunities. In his latest book, Customers the day after tomorrow, Steven gives pointers to how you anticipate the customer of tomorrow and how you can score as an entrepreneur. "It's my invitation to dream about your 'tomorrow' and then translate that to your 'today'.”


About Steven

Steven van Belleghem is an inspirer, consultant, author and renowned speaker. He coaches companies in adapting to the modern consumer. In addition, he is part-time Professor of Marketing at the Vlerick Business School. After 3 best-sellers, including When digital becomes human, his 4th and latest book Customers the day after tomorrow was published recently. What makes Steven exceptional, is the combination of practice and science. Because of this, he is a popular speaker at home and abroad.

During the first part of Fuel Day 2018, the eighth edition of the annual event organised by BigBrother, Steven van Belleghem and speakers from De Efteling and KBC Bank revealed an interesting vision of Customers the day after tomorrow. During the second part, bridges were built between this vision and the market by BigBrother, MyOrder, a2i and innovative entrepreneurs.


01 October 2018