Automation and machine learning
Automating processes for fuel pricing and logistics can boost employee productivity.

To catch up the latest PDI Enterprise Productivity innovations, we asked Sid Gaitonde, President of Enterprise Productivity at PDI, to share his thoughts on what’s new in fuel pricing, logistics, foodservice, and other areas of the industry.

Q. What are some of the biggest challenges the industry is facing right now?

A: With the “Great Resignation” in full swing, one of the biggest challenges is simply finding and hiring enough employees to handle daily operations. It’s hard to keep businesses staffed due to people changing jobs and a wave of retirements that result in the loss of institutional knowledge. A lot of operators are wondering how to retain expertise while getting new employees productive much faster.

Another key challenge is the broadening scope of competition with larger retailers, not to mention the blurred lines as convenience and hospitality become more similar. You have to adjust to different competitors and figure out how to keep growing in a business climate where consumer behaviors are shifting faster than ever before.

Questions about EVs and sustainability are also at the top of everyone’s mind. How soon will EVs make a major impact, and how soon can you make sustainability a core part of your business?

Q. How is PDI addressing those challenges from an enterprise productivity perspective?

A: When it’s hard to find employees and the pace of innovation keeps accelerating, you really need to focus on making productivity and agility gains. PDI can help you automate processes and daily workflows, so you’re not so dependent on the domain knowledge of a few individuals.

We’re leveraging AI and machine learning to capture SME knowledge and make decisions, so it’s easier to train new employees because expertise is already built into the system. We also have great options to help you manage employee schedules more efficiently. And we’re addressing the growth in EVs by enabling charge-based pricing within our fuel pricing solution.

Q. What are some of the latest updates in terms of new products or innovations?

A: A fundamental part of our technology strategy is to leverage the cost savings and agility advantages of the cloud for our POS, back-office, and fuel pricing solutions. We’re actively moving workloads and solutions into the cloud so there’s less hardware to worry about.

The advantages of moving store operations into the cloud is much faster setup, easier employee training, and the ability to roll out updates in real time at multiple stores. We’re launching new modules that streamline workflows for lottery and handheld devices. The cloud also supports more dynamic fuel pricing to help you adapt faster to changing market conditions. This includes automated pricing at the store level to protect margins even in the most competitive markets.

Also new is Carrier Connect, a cloud-based solution that uses machine learning to optimize how you place bids and outsource loads with third-party carriers. You can access a wider network of carriers and make better decisions in real time.

Q. With all the growth at PDI recently, what has changed in enterprise productivity?

A: One area that’s changed significantly is the POS, which is at the center of everything in the store. Especially in the convenience industry, POS solutions have been hardware-driven. That has made it very difficult to make changes, so there’s been relatively limited innovation compared to other industries.

Through two recent acquisitions, we’ve introduced a cloud-based POS and back-office solution in some international regions. When you can make updates through software, there’s much more flexibility to move fast and keep up with the latest changes in consumer behavior. Introducing a cloud-based POS solution is going to be a game-changer for accelerating innovation across the entire convenience industry.

Q. What key trends do you anticipate for the rest of 2022?

A: Like I mentioned earlier, everyone is talking about sustainability. If you want to remain competitive, you need a sustainability strategy that benefits both your customers and your business. For instance, could you turn EV charging into an advantage for your business?

Because customers might have a few extra minutes during a charge-up, how can you serve them more convenience? Maybe you could draw them into your store with real-time offers tied to charge-ups or provide guest Wi-Fi and fresh foodservice options in case they want to linger.

With the ongoing labor shortages and the possibility of paying higher wages, you also have to think about reducing your capital expenditures. That means finding ways to increase employee productivity and operating efficiency. Cloud-based solutions, automation, and machine learning are great tools for boosting productivity. The good news is PDI has the right technologies and solutions to address all these challenges today.

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