By Kavit Majithia

Shell Retail taps digital to counter mobility disruption

Rebecca Chan, head of Shell Retail China, emphasised the company’s goal of integrating digital services to improve its operations, while committing to supporting other energy sources as cars become more environmentally friendly.

Chan, speaking yesterday in keynote 2, Better Future for Society, explained “mobility disruption” was causing four evolutions that had to be addressed by Shell to keep pace. Firstly, cars are fast becoming “computers on wheels”, which was changing the face of the market, she said. Secondly, the concept of “human driving” transitioning towards being “self driven”.

Thirdly, the shift from car ownership to transportation as a service, and finally, an increase in the electrification of vehicles powered by a mosaic of fuels.

On the final point, she noted that a sharing economy was being established in the sector, and Shell needed to provide other options besides traditional fuel “so that we still have a business”.

She also said the company was already providing other energy resources, including charging capabilities for electric cars, and that will increase with future developments.

On the digital side, Chan talked through some of the major innovations it has introduced in its retail stores, including mobile payment services and car plate recognition to provide a more personalised experience. Shell is also collaborating with car manufacturers to allow people to pay for services through connected car dashboards.

For its wider goals, the company is looking at developing delivery fuel services, whereby fuel is delivered to a car as and when it is required.

She added that a personalised service was at the heart of Shell’s digital ambitions. “We will never get a robot to serve you.”


Also speaking on the panel, Pakistani operator Jazz’s chief corporate and regulatory affairs officer Ali Naseer joked that he would not rule out fuel delivery services in the company’s home market. Building on the theme of the session, Naseer also spoke about an operator’s duty to use its capabilities to promote social good in emerging markets and use the mountains of data they were now sitting on to empower societies.

“Operators need to change and be visionary,” he said. “That’s a role that telecoms need to fill, and that’s bigger than just providing connectivity. There’s a lot of things not addressed by governments – which could be because a lack of resources and other issues… digital can provide transparency on a whole new level.”