Gilbarco Veeder-Root plans to develop a fueling and marketing system the leverages location-based and mobile technology, relying on Bluetooth beacons from Qualcomm.
"Mobile is the next innovation in this space. We are pursuing technology that can create a more seamless experience for drivers," says Parker Burke, director of marketing for Gilbarco, which enables cash, credit card and bar code-based payments at retail locations and gas pumps. Its clients include 19 of the largest convenience store chains in the U.S.
Gilbarco plans to use Qualcomm's beacon technology to both enable mobile payments as well as deliver offers when it senses nearby customers. Qualcomm's Gimbal proximity beacons are certified by Apple to meet its iBeacon protocol, which uses Bluetooth Low Energy signals. The devices cost between $5 and $10 and have a battery life of between one and three years.
The Gimbal proximity beacons include a software development kit for Android and iOS operating systems.
The use of beacons is part of a broader customer experience program at Gilbarco that builds on its acquisition of Outcast Media, a provider of digital content at service stations. Gilbarco also began accepting PayPal payments in 2013.
Gilbarco hopes that removing paper from loyalty and rewards programs will make them easier to use and more accessible for consumers.
"The current system of registering for loyalty programs is cumbersome" because consumers have to fill out forms and hand in the paperwork in person, Burke says. Mobile technology allows consumers to register remotely, with the beacon detecting their location, Burke says.
The Gimbal beacons can be installed throughout a retail location, and transmit content and accept payments at a longer range than Near Field Communication, the wireless technology used in many mobile wallets.
Gas stations can place beacons in a central location or on each pump, which Burke recommends. Users identify themselves with a PIN or a ZIP code at the fueling station's discretion.
Beacons should dramatically reduce the number of steps necessary before fueling begins, Burke says.
"Your loyalty card, fuel grade, whether you want a receipt all of these things can be stored in the mobile app and triggered by the Bluetooth LE / Gimbal Beacon technology," Burke says. "If it's cold, the consumer doesn't have to get out of the car to do all of those things."
Gilbarco is currently testing the beacon technology and will begin a more extensive test with consumers in the next couple of months.
Qualcomm introduced proximity beacons in December, says Kevin Hunter, a product manager at Qualcomm.
The Miami Dolphins tested Gimbal's geofence technology and proximity beacons in December. As consumers moved throughout the stadium complex, they received a different message based on their location, Hunter says.
"In the parking lot, they got a welcome message, and as the moved into the stadium itself, they got messages about concession products and real-time special offers," Hunter says.
Other payment companies, such as PayPal and shopkick are also using beacon technology to enable payments and location-based offers. And Mozido, a mobile technology provider, is testing similar technology for person to person payments.