Self-serve food technology offers a plethora of opportunities for businesses that want to invest in EV charging stations or future-proof their current forecourt offering, says Rishi Lavda of Selecta UK & Ireland, which specialises in self-serve food tech

Go_Shop_Container - Selecta


With the EV market growing at an exponential rate, so too is the amount of EV charging stations - service stations, supermarkets and parking facilities - are all investing in charging points to keep up with demand and attract a ‘new’ type of customer to their business.

Unlike petrol or diesel drivers that will fuel up within minutes, EV owners can spend anywhere between 30 minutes and half a day charging their vehicles. Therefore, many drivers will plan their journey in advance and often choose to stop at charging stations that make their experience more comfortable. This offers a plethora of opportunities for businesses that want to invest in EV charging stations or future-proof their current forecourt offering.

Reimagining forecourt retail

The new era of forecourt retail brings with it some enormous challenges. Market volatility and uncertainty has been trigged not only by the rise in electric vehicles, but also changing consumer habits. A recent report by food-to-go supplier, Fresh Food for Now Company, revealed that the typical EV driver, for example, is largely concerned about the facilities and refreshments available to them as they wait for their vehicles to charge.

This means that businesses, forecourt retailers, and EV operators need to evolve to meet these demands by reimagining themselves as a convenience hub to support the customer experience otherwise risk losing out to competitors. Retailers offering multiple touch points for their EV customers will not only attract more drivers but it will also keep them around for longer, boosting sales and putting their store on the EV map.


One area of opportunity for retailers to consider, especially for those businesses that might not have the space or resource to provide a large-scale service complex, is self-serve food technology. Research from Deloitte states that top amenities sought by EV drivers include coffee and beverages as well as snacks and light meals. With working patterns becoming more flexible and environmentally conscious consumers looking to opt for healthier food from more sustainable suppliers, food technology such as micromarkets, bean-to-cup coffee machines, and grab-and-go vending machines can provide a cost-effective solution to enhance the customer experience. From the early morning commuter who might stop for breakfast to the late-night taxi driver who needs a cup of coffee, a one-stop-shop should have a wide variety of on-the-go food options available to cater for different scenarios to keep customers coming back, day and night.

There are many different food technologies currently available on the market. Unmanned container stores, for example, allow customers to purchase food and drink at any time. These ‘stores’ can house smart fridges and coffee vending solutions, offering a wide assortment of popular products.

Smart fridges can be opened using a payment card or an app, and the system will detect which products have been taken and will charge the customer once the door is closed. Some smart solutions can even be set up to offer personalised discounts tailored to the customers needs, further enhancing the experience, driving sales, and encouraging repeat business.

Working with a best-in-class food technology provider can also improve efficiency for fuel retailers thanks to the data accumulated. With real-time information detailing the products and time of purchase, stocks can be replenished in-keeping with demand as well as supporting the reduction of waste. Technical faults and temperature checks can also be recorded to ensure equipment is always operating at optimum levels. Another benefit of self-serve food technology is the ability for it to be scaled with ease – either across different locations or through the addition of different solutions – allowing the business to grow with the demand.

Fuelling the future

With a huge growth anticipated in electric vehicles over the next five to10 years, fuel retailers and forecourt operators should start taking steps to level up their customer experience. Investing in self-serve food technology now could not only open up new revenue streams and reduce overall costs, but it will also encourage customers to come back, time and time again to refuel and refresh while charging their vehicle.