BP service stations are synonymous with Australian roadsides.
With about 1,400 service stations across the country (a combination of about 1,000 that are independently owned but sell fuel under the BP brand, and the remainder owned and operated by BP), the BP logo is not only a beacon to drivers in need of petrol, car washes, lubricants and solvents - it’s also now a place to rest with many hosting truck stops, shops, Wild Bean Cafes and an expanding offering of drinks, coffee, food, groceries, fuel and gift cards and more.
It's a vast ecosystem reliant on hundreds of suppliers, and the company is looking to re-invent its retail arm and double the profit of its convenience business by 2030, with a clear objective to expand into more offerings in cafés and fresh food.
With that comes an increased need for visibility over supplier transactions, deal terms and more to claim what is owed to them from suppliers -- but until recently, visibility was not assured.
Claimed rebates and incentives pump retail transformation strategy
Everyone who has walked into a service station will see the odd deal here and there: buy 1, get 1 free for a chocolate bar, or marked down prices for things such as soft drinks or even toilet paper. These are done according to agreements and collaborations with suppliers with incentive and rebate payments.
However, that hypothetical incentive or rebate is only worth it if it's actually claimed, and this is often easier said than done for large companies with hundreds or thousands of suppliers. Errors can be made in small amounts and can occur somewhat frequently, which by themselves don't necessarily materially impact the bottom line but together can add up to huge amounts of lost revenue. Exacerbating the challenge is a continuing reliance on manual process, which is prone to human error, and which also requires employees to manually check invoices and agreements.
"A lot of what we relied on previously when it came to recording terms and agreements with suppliers was category managers entering things correctly themselves into an excel spreadsheet, and then manual processing them” said Paul Hess, Category Intelligence & Performance Lead ANZ for BP.
"With hundreds of suppliers, this meant that checking transactions against terms was tough to do particularly if the data was incorrectly entered, or not updated to reflect current terms. We also didn't have a central place in which we could check terms and agreements regularly, so ensuring we claimed correctly was manual and error prone."
Claiming what is owed can have a drastic impact on a company's bottom line, but many organisations leave money on the table -- particularly one that is looking to double the profitability of its convenience business. A lack of visibility can also hinder their ability to understand the buying patterns of customers. Understanding the customer would be crucial to helping the company achieve its aim to double its convenience store profits by the end of the decade.
"We're looking to put a café into every store, add fresh food offerings and upgrade other sites," he said. "A big part of that comes down to the supply chain and understanding how we get products delivered and in what frequencies and volume. We need to attract new customers, and key to that is understanding and catering to their needs."
The company realised that as it transformed its retail, it also needed to transform its data ingestion and analysis. Enter: Profectus.
Convenience on the go with Profectus
Profectus’ Rebate and Deal Management services help solve the issues of processing errors in managing rebates and deals. “For our processing team, it’s freed up so much time to work on other stuff,” said Hess. “Rather than spending time trawling through spreadsheets, they can spend time talking to stakeholders. I also think it’s improved the accuracy of rebate claims.”
Ensuring that rebates are claimed will prove beneficial to the company’s goal of doubling its convenience store profit by 2030 - as will the visibility over the sales and invoice data.
Driving growth: data and claims equally key
An additional benefit the company has identified on top of improved accuracy and time savings since turning to Profectus is the ease of access to data. With all data accessible from one place and easily sorted and analysed, BP can now gain quick and easy insight into each product’s popularity and profit margins as it continues to expand its service offering.
“It’s nice to see what the full picture of the profitability of certain product lines is without having to run up a report manually and cross check everything,” he said. “We can now quickly see our margins for each stock item, know what rebates are available and how that affects those product margins, and also what is popular among consumers.
“For the key stakeholders of the business and my team, it helps us understand what the full picture is.”
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