There’s a lot going on behind the scenes at convenience stores these days as technologies evolve to meet customer demand, competition continues to heat-up, more and more of the profits come from instore sales, and new federal regulations are looming.
As a result of those trends, there are new opportunities for Knoxville’s NewsBreak Media Networks. For many readers, that’s not a household name, but you no doubt have observed the company’s work when you pump gasoline at convenience stores and travel centers throughout Middle and East Tennessee like Pilot Flying J, Weigel’s, and TwiceDaily. It’s a company that distributes content to display screens that are either integrated into or sitting on top of the gas pumps that provide useful information as you fill your vehicle with fuel.
“We keep evolving as the technology does,” says Bob Bradley, Chief Executive Officer who joined the company in 2013. “Retail technology and point-of-sale systems have developed exponentially since we were founded in 2009. Convenience stores now offer interactive touch screens, product ordering at the pump, and curated customer loyalty programs that further enhance the retail experience. Through it all, we have kept pace and emerged as the leader in NexGen forecourt media and merchandising.”
We first wrote about NewsBreak Media in this early 2015 teknovation.biz article and have continued to follow its progress in helping increase convenience store margins by bringing new revenue options where most sales start. Now, the company is also managing screens inside the store as well as at the pumps through a proprietary software system that is driven by data analytics.
Collectively, Bradley explains that it’s all about “collecting data and programmatically driving messaging” that contribute to the bottom line of its clients.
To understand the challenge, he explains that the drive-off rate after taking on fuel is about 75 percent, meaning that the majority of a retailer’s customers do not enter the convenience store.
Why is that a problem? The vast majority of the profit is made from sales of food, beverages and other items sold inside the store, not the gasoline sold at the pumps.
Today, the company has two software products – the original NewsBreak “linear” feed, as Bradley describes it, and a newer product that he calls “NewsBreak OnDemand.” Think of the former as a continual loop of information – news, weather and merchandising – that is updated throughout the day. On the other hand, the “On Demand” product proactively engages with the customer in a manner somewhat akin to the types of interactive options available online or on a mobile device.
For convenience stores that choose the latter option, customers are able to select what they want to do at the pump beyond fueling their vehicle. They can select news, weather, or sports segments, or something else like ordering food directly from the store’s deli. Then, after completing the refueling, they go into the store for pick-up. Customers will also have the option to play a video game directly on the pump screen where, if the person wins the game, points are added to his or her loyalty card total for future discounts on purchases. Every episodic transaction is designed to drive customers inside the store to purchase high profit margin products and services.
Bradley explains that video display screens are now built into the pumps are just one of the technology improvements. The pumps themselves are much faster, meaning refueling that used to take up to five minutes can now be done in 90 seconds. As such, NewsBreak Media has evolved its product offering to be able to help its clients capture their customers’ attention quickly.
NewsBreak Media recently added Chris Thompson, a Nashville-based entrepreneur, as its Chief Technology Officer and Chief Product Officer. The company also has established distribution relationships with every fuel pump manufacturer in the country (#1 Gilbarco Veeder-Root, #2 Dover Fueling Systems, and #3 Bennett Pump Company), as well as Atlanta-based NCR, a leading point-of-sale manufacturer.
NewsBreak Media is now available in 10 states representing over 2,500 display screens across the country.