Just take a look at any magazine or web page and ask yourself what do you see: home automation. There are many, many devices to control home peripherals as well as home applications such as cameras and recording devices, smoke and humidity detectors. But what’s new in the forecourt retail world of automation? What might be seen this year in our business? The showcase, as ever, will be the National Convenience Show and The Forecourt Show, at the NEC from April 24-26.

Could this be the year of the self-checkout? With the advent of card-only self-checkouts and the hybrid models available now, then self checkout may well be a suitable device for the forecourt and convenience store market.

Mobile payment is another avenue that will grow this year. Those rumoured to be introducing new mobile systems include Shell, BP and Esso, which may be based on Paypal, ApplePay or other payment systems.

Cigarette vending will take off this year with more cigarette gantries in evidence. The biggest advantage of the gantry is that of visibility you can’t see them and they can provide excellent areas to market valuable products. If the only way you can dispense a packet of cigarettes is via a button on the POS then the reconciliations become truer and reflect a more accurate picture.

As well as mobile payment, outdoor payments systems seem to be on the up. Htec is a strong contender for this type of system. The argument about outdoor versus indoor still seems to rage but if you have sufficient on-site parking then this is a no-brainer. Outdoor payment terminals can offer a fast track for your customers as well as a convenient method of purchasing fuel. One of the most innovative systems seen recently is that of UbaMarket, currently on trial at one of Guy Warner’s Budgens sites in the Cotswolds.

The system guides a customer around a store via a smart phone app. For example, you type in bread and the system shows you where bread is in the store. Scan each item to be shopped with the Smartphone camera it’s very fast.

Once you’ve finished your shopping you take the basket to any till and scan a QR code to signify the end of your shop and the system then transfers the shop to the till in this case an Htec epos and you finish the sale with a payment method of choice.