This post was contributed by Kevin Bretthauer, our fearless VP of Sales and co-founder of FuelCloud.
October in the fuel equipment industry means one thing: the NACS show. If you were not fortunate enough to take in the sights and smells of freshly fried food, gas nozzles, or the latest advances in vape technology, fear not - we’ve got your back! Here are FuelCloud’s top 5 key takeaways from the 2019 NACS show.
1. Embedded technology is shaking things up
In years past, technology at NACS has been spoken about in broad, vague terms. This year, it seems that the industry has gotten up to speed. Companies were talking about ‘API integrations’ and ‘3rd party software support’ with confidence, and had the prototypes on hand to prove what they knew what they were talking about. The most impressive display (besides our own) was Gilbarco’s “Encore Experience”, an app ‘storefront’ built directly into its Encore line of dispensers. We're still some time away from playing Candy Crush during our next fill-up, but the fuel industry has taken big steps towards embracing the technology that will get us there.
2. Cloud, Cloud, Everywhere
8 years (give or take) after ‘Cloud-based’ technology changed every other business tools, the fuel equipment industry seems to have caught on to what the Cloud can do. From fuel management to accounting systems, companies have been promoting their cloud solutions as the future. Prepare to say goodbye to your back office server and hello to a new generation of remotely hosted solutions.
3. Consolidation continues
NACS is attended by the largest companies in the fuel industry, but this year it was readily apparent that there were fewer small customers and vendors than their used to be. Companies like PDI or Parkland Fuel have been busy rolling up significant parts of their respective industries. I am hopeful that this consolidation can bring future innovation, and the early signs are good given the industry’s new comfort with technology-enabled equipment. It remains to be seen, however, if these newly minted conglomerates can present a coherent message.
4. Electric Vehicles are charging up
EV charging is not exactly taking PEI by storm, but the winds are definitely starting to change. In contrast to previous attitudes, electric vehicles have gone from a potential threat to a new opportunity. The overall vibe from the show floor was that EV charging has a place at the retail fuel station. Just don’t expect to find a supercharger under the canopy just yet.
5. You might be eating more health food at the pump
For so long, convenience stores have been a bastion of all of the most delicious and unhealthy snacks around. But no more - oat-milk based drinks, keto-friendly foods, and kombucha may be coming to a gas station near you...