BP is on a mission to shape the forecourt of the future. Its focus is the customer and staying relevant in a low-carbon world, according to Nikki Grady-Smith, the company’s UK retail director. "We’re really shifting from being an organisation that’s been driven purely through fuel, to focusing on the customer. We’ve spent nearly two years changing that mindset to ensure that everything we do how we operate, how we develop our offers is about the customer. If you look at all the future trends, the companies that will win, will be those that are customer-centric."

One of the trends is that of not just competing in the traditional sense with other fuel retailers, but with a person’s last retail experience, whatever that may have been whether online or in a physical store. We need to be able to compete on all levels, so we’ve brought new people and skills into the organisation and looked at all aspects of our offer from food to digital." The results of this and extensive customer research can be seen in the recent launches of the BPme payment app and rewards scheme, which replaced the long-standing Nectar scheme; and ongoing improvements to the Wild Bean Café offer.

"Our customers were telling us they wanted a different reward solution," explains Grady-Smith. "They wanted to be able not only to earn points and not just on fuel - but also redeem them. They want different choices some wanted a physical card, some wanted a digital solution. We also have a fob solution, which will be launched shortly.

"What’s important is that customers want personalised offers and that’s what BPme Rewards will enable us to do. Customers can earn and redeem where they want, when they want, how they want. Some of them want points; some of them want money off; some want an online catalogue; some want M&S vouchers. That’s all available to them. BPme Rewards is our base offer. Another key aspect of the reward scheme is to give customers little treats more often. There is a significant pipeline of additional offers we will be launching in the future." The rewards scheme is performing well, with significant redemptions, according to Grady-Smith. It has been rolled out across the entire network and had attracted 1.2 million active customers within the first month.

"This isn’t about competing with other oil majors," she says. "It’s about going back to basics and giving a little bit back to customers. We know they can earn and redeem something for as little as £1 so we’re opening up to a wider customer base. We’re tapping into that personalisation trend. It’s what customers want and they expect this in every retail interaction they have."

Food on the move is seen as a huge area of growth and opportunity, hence The Wild Bean Café is constantly under review. "We’ve been piloting and testing different offers for Wild Bean Cafe, and have learned a lot from our company business - piloting broader hot food offers," explains Grady-Smith. "We recently ran a pilot with Deliveroo which will soon be rolled out to 100 sites. We will be tapping into the trend for more healthy food.

"But how we deliver those services is also going to be important the last-mile delivery of those different solutions; the customer experience be that through BPMe, self-service checkouts. Pulling all that together is really how we want to transform the business. "

Grady-Smith says dealers will also be able to benefit from the Wild Bean Café offer with a more flexible and modular franchise, launched at this year’s Forecourt Show. "We want to make sure we’ve got the right deal in place. What we’re offering to dealer partners is a module solution everything from self-serve coffee through to serve-over. It’s about meeting the needs of the dealer partners and the customers they have in their stores. Some may just want self-serve coffee and pastries, or they may want a fuller offer. It depends on those partner needs. But there will always be a core to the Wild Bean standards and coffee offer. We’ve done both customer and dealer research and believe we’ve developed a very attractive and strong offer for both." Dealers are a key focus for the business the network currently stands at 844, plus 290 co-owned sites, mostly with M&S.

"We’re looking to work with like-minded dealers, those that want to really focus on the customer and the customer experience. We’re looking for modest growth in the dealer sector, we’re not about driving for fuel volume. We’re moving away from being a fuel-driven business to a customer-driven business, so it’s about making sure we’ve got the right network to meet our customer needs.

"This is where electric vehicles (EVs) start to play in the network conversation as well. We very much see ourselves as a retailer offering a range of mobility solutions to our dealer partners and to our customers out in the marketplace. That’s very important in the changing mobility landscape that we see and we want to be at the forefront of that. BP has often been at the forefront of changing things. We are very ambitious.

"We believe and are very strong advocates of transitioning to a lower-carbon world and that’s why we’re investing in things like BP Chargemaster in the UK."

Dave Newton, Chargemaster CEO, is expecting 2020 to be a really big year for EVs, and the strategy for forecourts is 150kw charging. "We absolutely believe forecourts and ultra-fast charging are an essential part of the mix going forward and contribute to the energy transition. In 2020 Chargemaster will join the BP loyalty scheme so we’ll be in a position to help migrate those customers across.

"We expect to have 100s of chargers across the next three-to-four years on a mix of dealer and company sites. For forecourts to survive and stay relevant they will need to manage this transition.Our role is to shape the EV sector towards forecourts as the most natural place to charge."

BP Chargemaster First site with 150kW chargers

BP Chargemaster has powered up its first 150kW ultra-fast electric vehicle (EV) chargers on a BP retail site, the first in a planned network of 400 ultra-fast chargers across the UK.
Two of the chargers were installed at BP’s retail site at Cranford near Heathrow airport, west of London, last month.
They are the first in a planned roll-out of 400 ultra-fast chargers at BP sites across the UK by the end of 2021, with the network continuing to grow in line with new vehicle models arriving on the market that will be capable of ultra-fast charging.
David Newton, chief operating officer of BP Chargemaster, said: "We believe our establishment of a nationwide ultra-fast charging network will be transformative for the electric vehicle market in the UK. Working closely with global vehicle manufacturers, we are developing the solutions that electric vehicle drivers need to enable them to charge confidently and conveniently, wherever they are in the country."