Industry data suggests that investment in Australia’s petrol convenience retailing industry is at an all-time high, largely as a result of structural change in the industry and a generational shift in the workforce. Much of this investment, is premised in the belief that the nature of petrol convenience retailing in the next 20 years will likely be the same as the past 20 years. But is that correct? Given the long term investment nature of a retail site, are the changes we are making today going to be made redundant by dramatic shifts in vehicle technology, communication technologies and consumer expectations in the near future? If so, what should we be building today to future-proof our industry over the next 15 to 20 years?

Australia’s network of 6400 petrol convenience outlets is currently undergoing substantial renewal as a result of industry restructuring and perceived investment opportunities associated with the ownership of these assets.

Much of this investment is being used to upgrade underground fuel storage infrastructure and install modern fuel dispensing equipment. Efforts are also being made to change the look and feel of the convenience store in an effort to attract a greater share of consumer’s convenience spend.

While this investment is a very welcome development in the retail petroleum industry, the long term nature of this investment gives rise to an important question – Are we building infrastructure that will ensure that these outlets are fit for purpose given potential changes in vehicle technologies, consumer expectations, transport logistics, personal communication technologies and local community interaction.

This is a question that ACAPMA recently asked two organisations. The first was Mike McCallum (Futurist of Global Foresight). Mike was asked to paint a picture of what petrol convenience retailing might look like in 20 years time given his deep knowledge of current global technology and consumer trends.

Mike’s insights were then communicated to Wayne Lamb (Managing Director of Cadway) with a view to developing a petrol convenience outlet that would best accommodate the changes that are now visible in the wider marketplace.

“The result is quite simply astonishing. While we thought we had a good knowledge of emerging consumer and technological trends, the likely impact of these trends on the shape of petrol convenience retailing is likely to fundamentally alter the concept as we know it today”, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

“While most sites are being redeveloped as an incremental step beyond the traditional concept, this exercise has raised real questions about whether our industry is really aware that some of the trends now evident in our market are likely to fundamentally reshape the way we do business in the near term”, said Mark.

“Most importantly, people are now investing in petrol convenience assets with a view to securing returns for a 20 to 30 year period – much of which appears to be oblivious to the fact that the nature of petrol convenience retailing is likely to undergo dramatic change in the next 15 to 20 years”, Mark explained.

The work completed by Mike and Wayne provides valuable and comprehensive insights for anyone wishing to make a long term investment in Australia’s petrol convenience industry.

Mike McCallum and Wayne Lamb will be presenting the findings of their work at ACAPMA’s 2015 Conference and Expo to be held at the Gold Coast on 22 to 25 September 2015.

Tickets to this peak industry event are still available and can be purchased by contacting Catherine Squire on 1300 160 270 or by email to catherines@acama.com.au.