The benefits of adopting software in the fuel pricing function

A spreadsheet is a prevalent tool in the arsenal of a Fuel Pricing team. However large your organization and advanced your processes, you'll likely utilize spreadsheets in some capacity. And despite our caliber as a leading Fuel Pricing software specialist, here at Kalibrate we understand your reliance on spreadsheets and don't expect you to banish them altogether. However, many operational processes can benefit from being moved away from spreadsheets and into a more streamlined technology-led process. Here we discuss some of the main pros and cons of using spreadsheets for fuel pricing processes
The benefits of adopting software in the fuel pricing function

Efficiency of fuel pricing software compared with spreadsheets

For implementing a simple pricing strategy, such as “Competitor price + 1c”, a spreadsheet will be entirely capable of calculating acceptable prices for each site. We’ve seen many cases where far more complex pricing strategies have been applied using Excel — but regardless of how simple or complex your strategy is — Excel isn’t capable of implementing it efficiently.

And in a fast-moving market like fuel retail, efficiency is essential. Read how one customer boosted profitability 4% and increased their market share from 9% to 12% using Kalibrate’s fuel pricing software.

Data entry into spreadsheets is often input by hand, taking time and increasing the chances of errors. Once calculated, prices are manually checked and sent via SMS or emailed over to sites to be entered into POS and signage systems. On a small scale, this process is fine. But if your organization has growth targets and plans to build or acquire new stores, it can quickly get out of hand.

Fuel pricing software allows you to ingest data from different channels automatically. It can immediately calculate a new price (based on rules and criteria set by the Pricing team) and automatically send it to a store’s POS system — making the entire process streamlined, repeatable, and fast.

Rapidly implementing prices through POS integration improves profitability and increases the likelihood of hitting volume and margin targets. For some fuel retailers, implementing price changes can take hours, and a verbal confirmation from a store manager is all they have to trust that prices have taken effect. Prices hitting pumps hours after they have been submitted only result in fuel retailers missing out on revenue due to lack of speed.

 

During one of our fuel retail panel discussions, one fast-growing US chain told us:
“Historically pricing once per day was common but now if you are not pricing multiple times per day, you are leaving a lot on the table. With the volatility in the market, you don’t want to be the one that is sitting 20 cents higher than competition. We are looking at competitive prices all throughout the day, watching the markets, studying competitor shifts in behavior and using all these data points to make quick decisions. Being able to trust the data is key and helps automate a lot of these decisions based on the parameters that we have set.”

 

Fuel pricing software allows pricing decisions to be made by responsible team members regardless of their location. Many international organizations successfully manage fuel pricing for entire networks from one central office. With efficient data ingestion, quick decisions, and automatic implementation — the software allows Fuel Pricing Managers more control and visibility over their networks.

Whether you are pricing for a far-reaching global network or a smaller localized market — increased visibility and control benefit every pricing team.
Fuel pricing software saves time by eliminating the need for duplicate efforts, which is often the case when using spreadsheets. Many fuel pricing teams have multiple spreadsheets to keep track of different calculations and historical records. And as a result, the same data is entered numerous times in different places, which is not the best use of anyone’s time and increases the risk of human error.

 

Kalibrate advice:
Data entry is a laborious task, requiring little skill. If your fuel pricing analysts are simply doing the job of human computers inputting data, they’ll quickly get bored and unsatisfied in their roles. Consider ways to upskill and empower your team, and you’ll be able to extract more value from your employees, while in turn, your employees feel more valued, and their job satisfaction will increase.

Accuracy of data entry

With any software system, your results are only as good as the data you put in. So, ensuring that you have accurate, quality data is required regardless of whether you use spreadsheets or software. However, the manual nature of spreadsheets leaves them more at risk for human error — and in this industry — mistakes can be costly.

A sound fuel pricing software system’s automated processes reduce the likelihood of errors and carry out checks and validations to quickly spot discrepancies before any prices are sent, protecting you from expensive mistakes.

 

Want to understand your team’s current fuel pricing maturity?
Fuel Pricing Self Assessment ChecklistThe Fuel Pricing self-assessment checklist has been designed by our team of experts to help you gauge your current internal fuel pricing capabilities across your team. Across six primary audit areas, the checklist will help identify opportunity areas for improvement and highlight any weaknesses that could be slowing your overall growth strategy.
Once you have completed your audit checklist, our team will be able to work with you to create a plan of action to address the areas identified.

Security and stability of a fuel pricing software platform

Although not always at the forefront of your minds, the security and stability of your chosen fuel pricing system are vitally important.

Who has access to your pricing system? Who can change prices or alter your pricing strategy?

With spreadsheets, your access levels are all or nothing. Anyone with access to your spreadsheet can change data fields, adjust calculations, and affect prices, leaving you vulnerable to unwanted changes. Fuel pricing software allows you to set roles and responsibilities for different users, giving you more control over pricing changes.

The more complex a spreadsheet becomes, the more likely it is to break. And an anomaly in the data, an incorrectly formatted cell, or a broken formula can take hours to find and fix — putting you behind your scheduled price changes and risk losing revenue.

Accountability amongst team members

The lack of access restrictions has additional implications. Without an audit trail, people cannot be held accountable for changes within the spreadsheet. Mistakes can’t be traced back to the person who made them, so it’s impossible to identify if errors are genuine or the result of a broken training process. With software, audit logs provide an additional level of confidence. Managers can see who has implemented changes, and team members know they are accountable for their adjustments, encouraging everyone to follow the agreed processes.

Who is responsible for the spreadsheet itself?

Spreadsheets are usually owned by one team member who is the “holder of all knowledge,” so if something goes wrong — they are the ones to turn to. But who is accountable for managing the sheet and pricing your network if that person isn’t available?

Purpose-built fuel pricing software will give you access to a support team and a wider team of developers and testers responsible for keeping the system working as expected.

 

Kalibrate advice:
A good software provider should give you access to a Customer Success Manager as well as a team of technical support staff. The Customer Success Manager will work with you to ensure you make the most of your system and extract its maximum value. Kalibrate has Customer Success Managers on four continents, with extensive fuel pricing knowledge and client-side experience that they utilize to provide dependable support and advice.

Visualization of data outputs

Spreadsheets have a range of charts and data visualization options — but the data itself is often disparate, held in multiple different areas, and difficult to read — making it hard to view the information you really need to draw conclusions, or to quickly provide an “at-a-glance” overview of your situation at any given time.

Purpose-built Fuel Pricing software will give you access to charts and other visual widgets like maps so you can visualize your data in the most appropriate ways. Customizable dashboards allow you to bring all the data you need into one single view to help you easily make actionable decisions and report on them — enabling you to work with clarity, confidence, and speed.

Development of a platform

It takes time to build a useable spreadsheet process, and we have seen examples of really complex strategies executed from spreadsheets. Once built, it’s a static sheet that will only change if you change your strategy. It will work, but it will never improve.

Software is supported by development teams who work to make incremental improvements that ensure your system becomes more sophisticated over time. So the improvement of your pricing processes isn’t solely reliant on improving your strategy. Also, the software itself can introduce new pricing opportunities that keep you ahead of the competition.

 

How to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of your fuel pricing processes – Video
How to improve fuel pricing processes video
In this video, Alexia Field, Customer Success Manager – Pricing, and Beth Thompson, VP Global Customer Success, discuss how you can evaluate your current fuel pricing processes and the changes that you can implement to make them more effective.
For more information about evaluating your fuel pricing processes and the next steps you can take, reach out to our team of experts for a personalized consultation.

Considering the switch from spreadsheets to fuel pricing software and want some next steps?

If you’d like to read more about the benefits of fuel pricing software, and the considerations you should be thinking about before you switch away from spreadsheets, download our helpful eBook: Fuel pricing: spreadsheets vs software today.

If you’re ready for expert advice on whether fuel pricing software is right for your organization, reach out to our team for a personalized consultation to walk through your current processes, and see where opportunities for optimization exist.

 

Download your copy of Fuel pricing: spreadsheets vs software eBook
Fuel Pricing Software vs Spreadsheets eBookIn this eBook, we examine the issues that spreadsheets can cause for Fuel Pricing teams and the wider fuel retail organization, as well as the considerations you need to make if you are considering switching to a fuel pricing software system.
Learn more about:
  • The benefits of software – and why spreadsheets aren’t redundant
  • The considerations your team need to make when thinking about the switch
  • A checklist of questions you should ask of any potential technology partner

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