Pumps to deliver more than just gas

InfoWorld |  Business

Fill 'er up may take on a new meaning at the gas pump after Ten Square officially rolls out its point-of-sale network this week.

Called the OuterNet network, the system will allow drivers to do everything from downloading a coupon for a free cup of coffee from the receipt printer on the pump to selecting MP3 and video files from the dispenser screen and downloading them wirelessly. The aim is to achieve this in the approximately 240 seconds that it takes the average gas tank to fill.

With deals already in place with all the leading petroleum companies, including BP Amoco PLC, Texaco Inc., and Chevron Corp., and all of the gas dispenser manufacturers, including Tokheim Corp., Marconi Corp. PLC, and Dresser Wayne, Ten Square is projecting reaching 150 million consumers by the end of 2001.

CEO Scott Slinker sees his company as the Microsoft of point-of-sale devices.

"It is true we are positioned similar to a Microsoft, not necessarily a bad thing, as long as our system is open. Anyone can sign on as long as they are certified. We put the power in the hands of the merchant and the consumer," Slinker said.

In order to get their marketing message on gas pumps, ATM and vending machines, and screen-based credit card verifiers, content providers will partner with Ten Square in a revenue-sharing model.

However, the revenue sharing goes beyond a two-way partnership, Slinker said. Partnerships and revenue-sharing relationships will be created between almost all of the participants including the gas station owner, the gas pump maintenance service provider, the petroleum company, as well as Ten Square and the content provider.

Ten Square is concentrating its network -- which consists of the interactive point-of-sale device, a local server at the gas station, and Ten Square's global processing center -- on what it calls petroleum facilities, rather than old-fashioned gas stations. A petroleum facility usually includes a convenience store and a fast food restaurant. The difference in scale between the two categories is dramatic. While the average gas station pumps 1.3 million gallons of gas a year, a recent survey of pumps owned by Wal-Mart at their locations indicated Wal-Mart pumps dispense 1.3 million gallons in a single month, Slinker said.

"But convenience store operators want to do more than sell gas. They want to drive customers into the store," Slinker said.

The store and the major brands such as Coca-Cola, Nabisco, and Colgate will use the Ten Square network to provide marketing content in the form of coupons, loyalty points for purchases, personalized news, and giveaways on pumps and ATM and vending machines at the petroleum facilities.

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