Shell, the global energy company recently announced the launch of its fleet solutions in India. Along with this fleet solution and its fuel, fleet prepaid and telematics, the company aims to reduce the total cost of ownership for the fleet owners. Zain Hak, general manager for Fleet Solutions Asia and Sanjay Varkey, general manager, India Retail and Oman Market spoke about their plans and how this will help the Indian fleet owners and more.
Indian market is a unique market and you have to bring in customised solutions here. What sort of changes were made considering the market here?
Zain Hak: Yes, India is a unique market and a very diverse market. Be it from a business point of view or from a consumer needs point of view and from a regulation point of view it is unique. As it is dissimilar to many other countries, it is also similar in some cases. There is a similar concern on how to bring the total cost of ownership, how to leverage a technology, how to have cashless transactions and more. In many other markets, we also look after tooling solutions which are not relevant in India. We decided on not going on that path and to do three things. One, to get the fuel which helps in performance. Two, the prepaid card which helps in cashless transactions. It is something like a wallet where you can load your money and use it. And, the third one is the telematics which gives the data. We have got different permutations and combinations depending on how the market is structured.
In the same manner, the trucking business is an unorganised sector here and drivers are not much educated. How will these products help them?
Zain Hak: There is no correlation between fuel card usage and literacy. There might be a weak correlation somewhere. But generally, everybody has an idea of what to do and how to do it. People are aware and we have a quite sophisticated customer base. Also, a lot of our products are actually for fleet owners and fleet managers. They have knowledge of a number of things. Now, for the drivers who are actually using the card, it is a very simple transaction. It is just a swipe for them and it is becoming much simpler as they do not need to keep a ledger of accounts on their side. Everything has now become data and icon-based.
Looking at the market as an unorganised and the organised sector is one way. One, there will be a lot of customers with a large fleet or they might have a small shop with five trucks or so. We have made sure that whatever we bring in is relevant to the entire gamut or entire spectrum of the customers out there. That is the reason we have made it intuitive.
How does use of IoT, AI help in the Indian market?
Zain Hak: AI and IOT are fundamentally a part of these platforms. Be it how the algorithms are used or entire connectivity and data integration, it is all part of it. There is a heavy dependence on these and this will be more in the future. As we go forward and bring more new products, the complexity increases as there will be a lot of data. That is when more AI is brought in. In the other markets, we already have a lot of experience with that.
The fleet solutions are completely new to the Indian market and there are competitions. How will an oil company like Shell be different from those who are already in the market?
Zain Hak: We want this to be a mobility solution. Fuel is only one part of them. And, Shell will be relevant to customers beyond the perimeters of the retail. This would be a through telematics solution in other countries like tolling solutions etc. It all depends on how we look at ourselves. We are relevant to the journey no matter where the driver is.
Who will be your target audience?
Zain Hak: It is going to be the commercial vehicle segment-first then the passenger car fleet segments. We will be starting with cities where we have a retail footprint and then we will be led by that geographically. It is going to be across the nation. This is an integrative strategy with our retail operations as well. We work closely and as the network develops we will move ahead.
Which part of the country has the maximum number of Shell outlets?
Sanjay Varkey: Currently the South. We also have a strong presence in Gujarat. We have expanded and we are now in 40 cities. So, this gives us a lot of options for the fleet solutions. At present, most of the outlets have been in cities. We are expanding along the highways and very soon we will have it along the corridors that are required and essential for the movement of freight and fleets. We would be in a good position to make the offer to certain segments who require it. It would be focused primarily on the customers that we can serve. Partnering is going to be the next phase of the journey.
With electric vehicles becoming a reality in the Indian market will Shell be a part in supporting this with the EV charging solutions? Be it partnerships or own solutions, how are you looking at this?
Zain Hak: We have always been committed to providing fuels. Be it the diesel, gasoline or natural gas and biofuels in certain areas. First, we need to understand the local view here. If there is a demand we will surely make that our business. But, the real question will be in the demand.
Sanjay Varkey: Whether it is an EV, hydrogen cells, LNG and biofuels we are present across the spectrum in the global market. We are well-positioned to handle the transition and provide solutions to customers depending on how the transition is. In India, we are going to see what directions the customers want to take and we would be well placed to provide solutions for that transition.
How has the recent slump in the automotive industry affected Shell?
Sanjay Varkey: There are certain segments that have slumped in and there are segments we had growth. These new solutions will allow all our fleet operators and owners to get more efficient solutions and we are providing it. At the moment, it is still growing.
What is the expansion plans as of now?
Sanjay Varkey: India is part of a large global expansion plan. It is to have 5,000 outlets in five key markets namely Mexico, Russia, China, India, and Indonesia. We will be contributing to that number by 2025.