The Kalibrate User Conference 2019: Key highlights and takeaways

21 March, 2019

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This year’s Kalibrate User Conference brought fuel and convenience retailers together in sunny San Diego for two days of peer discussion, industry insight, and cross-market networking, as well as the unveiling of our new Planning, Pricing, and Insights product suite.

Over the past two years, we’ve invested more than $20 million in our products and services, to make them more sophisticated and better aligned with the changing landscape of fuel and convenience retail. Survival in today’s volatile, evolving market requires an agile, more strategic approach to pricing and planning – which is precisely what the Kalibrate product roadmaps enable.

Here are my key takeaways from the conference:


Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of retail sites is crucial


The starting point for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a retail site is the examination of the following seven elements, and how much relative influence each element has.

  • Location
  • Market
  • Facilities
  • Merchandising
  • Brand
  • Operations
  • Pricing

The first six are ‘volume magnets’ – in other words, the reasons why consumers would (or would not) choose to visit one site over another. The seventh element – pricing – is what determines your ability to earn profit from them.


Consumer needs are evolving


It’s clear that boundaries are still blurring across different retail formats, with consumers’ needs and demands continuing to evolve rapidly. Pricing and planning strategies therefore need to be equally dynamic in order to align with these changes.

The ability to segment consumer demand by day-part and day-of-week will give retailers the insight they need to evaluate their pricing strategies and policies – and make wise adjustments.


There’s a ‘lake’ of data, and it's expanding


Fuel and convenience retail data is more abundant and detailed than ever, thanks to the proliferation of data sources now accessible to fuel retailers – both internally and from third parties. The challenge that this presents for retailers, though, is gleaning meaningful insight from that huge, ever-growing lake of data.

Jason Parent, VP Consulting at recent Kalibrate acquisition Kent Group, spoke of ways that fuel retailers can gain access to timely, dynamic market data to further enrich their existing data.

Which leads us suitably on to my next point…


Retailers shouldn’t overlook their own data


This abundance of new and accessible third-party data is proving irresistible for many retailers, but often overlooked is the wealth of data sat inside their businesses.

As tempting as it can be to pool as much data as possible, the most immediately actionable opportunities are often already there within retailers’ own data, waiting to be discovered and leveraged.


There’s a need for more transparent recommendations


Transparency came up in several discussions, most notably with regards to how Kalibrate tools arrive at certain recommendations.

Sophisticated recommendations alone are clearly not enough. Fuel retailers want transparent insight to accompany their data and explain it – providing context behind each recommendation.


Ongoing education will be key to success


AI and data science is even more valuable when you know how to truly leverage its power – how to understand, apply, and interpret it. For retailers, this is about ongoing education right across the business.


Planning and optimization tools can provide day-to-day support


Gone are the days where planning tools were only consulted on an ad-hoc basis. Retailers are starting to enhance their daily operations through smarter use of their network planning and optimization tools – analyzing day-to-day performance, examining the causes of underperformance and overperformance, monitoring competitors and identifying market trends.


Disruption to industry practices is expected (and likely)


Electric and hybrid vehicles, alternative fuels, and fuel delivery to consumers’ homes and workplaces may begin to disrupt practices across the fuel industry and cause further volatility – and retailers are already preparing for this.

As a result, retailers will need to be more agile in their pricing and network planning – in both fuel and non-fuel retail components. Of course, the key to this will be leveraging the data and maximizing the potential of planning tools.


Our users shared their experiences


Dmitrii Razumov, Director of Business Development at NIS, shared how the Kalibrate Planning tool has brought trust, confidence, and transparency to retail network investment decisions in Europe.

Juha Vanninen, Director at St1 in Finland spoke of how getting the right combination of people and tools is the key to success, and emphasized the importance of knowledge-transfer to help businesses cope with succession planning.

Andrew Graham, Operations Director at Certas brought us the value of centralizing services in a “hub and spoke” model to support multi-country networks, while his colleague Tom Hatton shed light on how pricing teams can leverage automation in order to remain lean – citing that 98.5% of pricing processes in Certas France are now automated using Kalibrate. Tom also highlighted the value in creating a healthy tension between the central pricing function and country-level operations teams.


One final note...


To wrap up, I’d like to acknowledge that we appreciate all attendee feedback from the event and we’ll provide updates on further developments over the coming months.

Once again, thank you to everyone who joined us in San Diego. Working closely with our clients to refine and improve our products, while providing an opportunity for knowledge-sharing across diverse global markets, is something we truly value. See you at the 2020 User Conference and have a great year.


Topics: Global News

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