Case in brief
- Z Energy is NZ’s largest fuel retailer, with 117 stores throughout NZ trading as either Z Energy or Caltex.
- They are embarking on a significant refresh of their retail experience – coinciding with the disestablishment of the Caltex brand under the new Z Energy brand.
- They have a progressive vision for how digital display technology can help them as part of this refresh. Eyemagnet has been chosen as the content command centre for their entire network of digital displays across all sites.
- This is a complex network transformation. There are 50 “green field” sites – which have a new, from-the-ground-up approach to the in-store experience, including a completely new design philosophy and approach to in-store signage. In addition, there are 67 “next tier” sites where our solution needs to be retrofitted around existing infrastructure. This blend of new vs retrofit – all needing to be managed “as one” from a content management perspective – enhances the complexity.
- Today, the solution sits behind all in-store and point-of-sale displays on each site. Our shared vision is for it to extend to on-pump, forecourt, and street-side prime displays soon.
The new Z Energy experience
While we are seeing the new retail format come to fruition in 2022, the reality is that discussions on this started several years ago.
In 2019, we presented our “Digital Path to Purchase” model to the Z Energy team as a way of rethinking their approach. They liked it, and it changed their perception of what was possible to achieve in-store. However, several moving parts – Covid, the Caltex acquisition, etc. – prevented them from moving forward.
In 2021, the decision to completely refresh the in-store experience nationwide was made (to coincide with the disestablishment of the Caltex brand in NZ).
They said they wanted to achieve the “Digital Path to Purchase” promise.
Phase one involves a from-the-ground-up rebuild of their 50 largest sites – including a completely new design philosophy and, among other things, a new approach to digital signage.
This starts in-store, with general POS, digital displays, and tobacco vending machines. The vision is to extend the approach to the outdoor areas in due course.
As the top 50 are being built, the next phase sees the retrofit of the solution into 67 of their next-tier sites.
This is a very different task. Whereas a green-fields approach gives us some flexibility to influence the design of the layout and some downtime to install, that’s eliminated in a retrofit situation.
This is about us fitting around them and their existing layout – wall/roof structure (for mounting options), and screen investments (had they just invested in older model screens that don’t have system-on-chip as the new Samsung ones do?). All on top of the fact that there is no change window. These sites are trading seven days a week.
Our job is to get that done – and for our software to manage that complexity. So that a single person inside Z Energy can run the whole network of screens from a single “pane of glass”.
Z Energy's approach to digital in-store signage was at least a decade old.
The content was delivered in largely static reels and was limited to in-store screens. Not only was it limited on what they could display (an ad generated last week vs real-time API hooks like today's price list), it lacked the end-to-end transparency they need to ensure great customer experiences. They acknowledged the deficiency of relying on an “onsite media player” solution, where they had central visibility on media player status but nothing beyond that. This gives rise to the dreaded blank screen – the “this screen is out of license” dialogue. This happens when the media player thinks everything is ok, and this is the feedback you get – but you have missed that the individual screen is out of play for whatever reason.
Our “Digital Path to Purchase” idea unlocked a view that digital signage didn’t need to be limited to in-store and didn’t need to be limited to advertising.
Rather than treating displays, POS signage, and the forecourt as separate things, they could treat them as a single “site canvas” and manage them accordingly.
Z Energy had been running another solution for about seven years. It was a media player solution with basic screens limited to in-store digital signage.
Z Energy were looking for a very different way of approaching their network.
The Eyemagnet Content Management System is the command centre for their nationwide signage network – in-store, forecourt, and street side – and enables it all to be managed by a single resource inside Z Energy.
- End-to-end visibility of the display network right through to the end screen. No longer have the issues of the media player saying, “I'm good,” but the end screen is down.
- Enterprise design for the whole network. Giving “enterprise grade” cyber security to the network of displays.
- Providing visibility across the greenfield and retrofit sites on a single interface. As if they were the same.
Points of note
Our partnership with Z Energy represents one of the most significant vision alignments we have had with any of our customers – starting with alignment on the “Digital Path to Purchase” idea and now being chosen as the single command centre for all their properties. We’ve collectively bought into a shared view of what is possible. It’s this level of connection that allows breakthrough moves to be made.
There’s significant complexity involved in managing the greenfield and retrofit sites in a way that is not obvious to the users of the CMS. These require very different technological treatments from our perspective – system-on-chip for some, media players for others. It was important to meet the customer where they were, as opposed to where they wanted to be. Retrofit (dealing with today's reality) is a very common requirement – we made this easy.
There were very short window-to-install times. With the greenfields sites, the time we have to deploy the tech is small – and it’s even worse with the retrofit sites. The creation of a software-first, super lightweight install took what used to take a few days down to a few hours.
Z Energy have been pioneers throughout New Zealand with their Customer Experience and data-driven initiatives that have been rolled out over the past 3 years. This shared vision - of what is truly possible in a retail environment - has been crucial to our partnership. You’ll have to watch this space to see what we’re working on!
We would like to thank the Z Energy team for their openness and support. We think we’re making something really game-changing – it’s nice that they see that as well.