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USA: Self-Serve Fueling Revolution Celebrates 50 Years

Fifty years ago an innovation forever changed fueling – and even retail as a whole – when convenience stores operator John Roscoe flipped the switch at a convenience store in Westminster, Colorado, to activate the first US remote access self-service gasoline pumps. It also supercharged the nascent convenience store industry, allowing stores to add fueling operations without adding attendants. Today, convenience stores sell 80 percent of the fuel purchased in the United States. Roscoe’s was not the first self-service gas station – as far back as the 1930s, some stores allowed customers to pump their fuel with a nearby attendant resetting the pump and collecting money – but this station was the first that allowed true self-serve as we have come to know it. Today self-service is still prohibited in News Jersey and Oregon, as well as in a few scattered municipalities across the country.

Self-service also continues to alter the retail experience around the world. Today, consumers can order groceries by scanning codes located on digital signs in train terminals. They can order groceries online and schedule at-home delivery. Deposits are made into checking accounts by scanning checks via mobile banking apps. And even drones may soon play a role as an immediate delivery option.

„Self-service speeds up transaction times, increases orderering options and helps take costs out oft he system. But most of all it has redefined convenience and the convenience store industry“ says Jeff Lenard, Vice President of strategic industry initiatives for the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

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