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Shell - Bringing the Pitstop To The Pump

12 February, 2015 - Source: Else

Shell has partnered up with PayPal and is rolling out a quick pay service allowing customers to pay for their petrol via PayPal.
  • Shell + Paypal
    Shell + Paypal

The potential success story of this service will be avoiding having to queue or insert a card into a pump and ‘follow on screen instructions’ a classic pain point. Customers can fill up and pay for their petrol in their car without setting foot in the station. No impulse buying of luke warm sausage rolls or foldable camping chairs. Have Shell thought this through?

“Customers will now have the flexibility and convenience of paying without having to leave their car. Those who want to go in store and pay or purchase other items will still be able to, with the benefit of reduced queues.” - Michael Hominick, Retail Marketing Manager at Shell UK

(Although, it should be noted that the customer still has to fill up their car themselves - so technically, they do have to leave their car)

Supermarket’s are taking the lion’s share of fuel sales (45% according to the Telegraph) and are posing stiff competition as they offer products and services above and beyond many fuel providers capabilities. Tesco is offering a potential fuel price of less than £1 per litre and Sainsbury’s is giving its customers 1 nectar point for every litre purchased.

In an increasingly competitive market consumer brands are looking to create a seamless transition between their online and offline services in a bid to gain customer loyalty. One method of achieving this is by easing friction in any experience which often means looking to a mobile first approach.

“At PayPal, we’ve always believed people will use their mobile phones to pay if there’s a clear benefit.” Rob Harper, Director, Mobile Commerce at PayPal UK.

Many are doing this by introducing apps into their product offering, e.g. Apple’s EasyPay in-store payment system mean a quicker and easier service for the user, and reduced costs for the brand as there are less staff required to manage smaller queues.

Yet, with all of these retailers working to produce their own payment services that aim to make the customer’s life easier, there's huge risk that the market will reach saturation point with the result being a customer having a phone full of apps for every retailer they visit.

Although initially only being offered to existing Shell Drivers’ Club customers in April, plans are for it to roll out nationwide later in 2015. Shell customers will also be able to pay through PayPal app (assuming they have it installed and have an account), the real question for us would be asking:

‘Why and how will this make paying for fuel better?’

It’s great to see more brands championing solutions to make things easier and better for consumers but with each new implementation of mobile payments we see we are still often left asking if this experience is indeed ‘better’ or just another option of payment.

We’ve been working with our clients at Zapp for the last couple of years - Zapp works within the user’s existing banking app meaning that there is no need to have an app for every retailer they use or use or any third party in the payment journey. They won’t need to download a new app for every retailer or intermediary and they can rest safe in the knowledge that they are with a trusted service - their bank.

Brands having their own special payment service, or own defined app is good and appropriate when there is customer loyalty to be had, but there has to be distinct benefit and advantages to using it - something more than “flexibility and convenience”.

If your customers use a range of competitors, based primarily on convenience then employing a service which requires them to download another app and register more details will probably leave them sticking to traditional methods of paying.

All that said, the real test will be in the experience itself which we’ll look forward to trying - at least once.

Written by Greg Hale, Experience Architect.

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