Andrew Jefferson & Sunny Liu, 06 April 2016

SERVICE stations could soon become one-stop shops for everything from ready-made meals, bottles of wine and even getting a haircut as the local shops move to the petrol bowser.

In future, Caltex Australia wants to offer a lot more than fuel in a challenge to Australia’s two major supermarket chains.

Rival service stations are set to up their retail offerings in a move which would revolutionalise convenience shopping.

Caltex, which already partners with Woolworths on fuel, wants to significantly expand its food and beverage offerings from pies, sausage rolls, coffee and confectionary to include fresh foods, salads and pre-prepared meals.

Based around its new corporate catchphrase of “freedom of convenience”, the petrol chain sees no limits in the makeup of its future service stations as it adapts to ever-changing customers needs.

Online purchases, including dry-cleaning, could be ordered from a new Caltex website or mobile phone app and picked up by customers on the way home from work.

Haircuts were flagged as another possibility.

Customers may not even have to leave the comfort of their cars to pick up and pay for purchases.

Caltex is investigating using numberplate recognition systems used by carpark operators for ticketless payments to meet the needs of its busy customers.

7-Eleven spokesman Steve Murphy said technology will play an increasing role in the future.

“7-Eleven is focused remaining Australia’s number one convenience retailer through store expansion, continually looking to enhance store layout and providing innovative and value for money products such as $1 coffee, fresh sandwiches and pastries, our partnership with Krispy Kreme as well as basic food staples,” Mr Murphy said.

Coles spokesman Blair Speedy said Coles Express has been working for several years to make its service station stores feel more like a small supermarkets.

“For example, you can now buy every day convenience items like milk and bread at the same $2 price as a Coles supermarket,” he said.

“We’ve introduced a range of popular Coles brand products into our store, allowing customers to pick up quality products at lower prices.”

Woolworths spokesman Sean Ottley said it welcomed the extra competition.

“Woolworths welcomes increased competition which ultimately benefits both suppliers and customers,” he said.

Caltex’s network of more than 2000 stores and service stations attracts more than 3 million customers a week and generates convenience retail sales of $1.2 billion.

Extracted in full from the Herald Sun.