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Gaining an 'Edge'

Since launching a year ago, EdgePetrol has been promoted as the must-have tool for forecourt management, creating a world where software solves the problems forecourt owners face every day.

It is the brainchild of the company's CEO Gideon Carroll who, with a background in accountancy and oil trading, learned how a barrel of oil moved around the world and was fascinated by it.

"It's a very complex business," he stresses. "So what retailers need is visibility they want to know what is going on now at their sites in one secure place. EdgePetrol's platform brings together all of a retailer's critical data and provides them with the visibility they need to make better and quicker decisions on pricing strategies and procurement. For the first time ever, dealers know their actual margins live, replacing the old processes of manually entering data to get outdated and inaccurate information.

"No other product brings it all together no one has securely integrated with the fuel supplier, with Catalist, with your pos company and so on. We're not a back-office solution, we're not a head-office solution, we're about today and tomorrow."

Carroll explains that previously retailers were receiving vital information the next day or worse, either via printouts or on a complicated spreadsheet that didn't provide the real numbers. Margins were worked out based on the last delivery cost or today's replacement cost, meaning that other fuel in the tanks was being disregarded and the margin was wrong. They were then making pricing decisions based on that margin and their competitors' prices but it was already old data and inaccurate.

"EdgePetrol has simplified this process for them," explains Carroll. "For example, if they are being squeezed by Asda, Sainsbury's or any of the grocers, they now know whether following them takes them below their margin targets and they can even see the impact on volume as it happens. Our customers are taking extra margin they previously didn't know they could take."

EdgePetrol is continually evolving, with regular new updates, having been trialled in the field initially with Top 50 Indie Highway Stops Retail Ltd. A recent development is that retailers now benefit from intelligent volume forecasts based on their sites' characteristics, including how each site is impacted by weather, traffic and competitor prices.

"Of course, the first rule of fuel is to never have a stock-out, but by being able to see what your tank levels will be up to a week in advance, retailers can buy more when the price is low and know how long they can hold off when the price is high," explains Carroll. "Margins can now be adjusted to exclude bunkering and include fuel cards to display a 'net' margin. Previously it was hard to know how much margin was being taken from each transaction due to the range of different fuel card fees and fluctuations in their volumes.

"We now intricately understand whether it's a retail customer transaction or a fuel card. We've identified what the costs to a fuel retailer are of taking a fuel card. For example one might cost you a penny, another 1.5p. Now, our clients are more aware of how their sites are performing and can adjust their strategies accordingly."

Another new development is an 'alerts' feature, giving relevant notifications to the right person, so not everyone is flooded with alerts that are not relevant to them reporting by exception.

Mark Truman, EdgePetrol's chief revenue officer, gives some examples of how retailers are creating additional profits: "We've seen a lot in the last year!", he says. "We've spotted a pricing error that sent one client into negative margin on their super diesel.

"They were losing this margin and the margin they would have made on the regular fuel as people were buying the cheaper super instead. We spotted in a matter of minutes what may not have been spotted until days later, saving them thousands."

"Another of our clients has managed to increase margins by over 2p across their portfolio while maintaining their volumes. Of course, market conditions are allowing this, but EdgePetrol is giving them the confidence to keep stretching while seeing in real-time if customers respond negatively."

The cost for the EdgePetrol service is £90 per month, per site circa £1,080 a year, on which Carroll claims a 7-9 times return is possible.

"All we need to know is the pos type, the fuel supplier and contractual terms, and we're off," says Carroll. "EdgePetrol is easy to use, it is accessible via the web from anywhere in the world. It connects to any POS and any fuel supplier, but also integrates with other third parties such as Experian Catalist to provide all the information needed in one place for retailers to make better decisions."


What retailers think: using the EdgePetrol system

Tony Head, director, Highway Stops Retail Ltd:
"A great example of a team of clever people , who looked at what we do, what we need and dug into the actual detail of our business. A fresh and new look at our industry resulted in a fully automated tool which for us is brilliantly informative and simple. Since the introduction of EdgePetrol into the business we can now access our TRUE fuel margins 24/7.
"To be able to have live sales and live blended margin for the group and also individual sites has been an unbelievable resource for us, especially for when we make decisions on pricing.
"The detail in which EdgePetrol have gone into building this model which now includes and calculates margin share deals and various fuel card costs is brilliant.
"For us the best part of the tool is that it is fully automated, the days of chasing cost prices across four grades, across different oil companies and across various days' deliveries are well and truly over."
Darren Briggs, managing director/CEO, Ascona Group Holdings Ltd:
"EdgePetrol is a godsend for any forecourt operator and to be honest, if I was still owning BigOil, then BigOil would be doing exactly the same! "EdgePetrol is an aggregator of data that provides real-time fuel price data from our back office and Catalist fuel price data.
"The real time sales and margin data is extremely powerful, especially when Edge can offer gross and net fuel margins that take into account the blended margin with numerous fuel cards being used.
"Extremely easy to use. the Edge team have a seamless onboarding process. Nothing is an issue with the Edge team.
"I would certainly recommend the Edge platform to any fuel retailer."


As ESSO and BP join Shell and Gulf in launching new loyalty programmes this year, are such schemes a key tool for businesses today?