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11 Dec

Introducing the IFSF API Standards Simulator

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The fuel retail industry is entering a period of significant disruption.

By 2035, the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the UK. Over the next few decades, the shift towards electric and autonomous vehicles will accelerate.

And fuel retailers, no longer able to rely on fossil fuel profits, need to be primed to respond. The answer lies in providing a compelling customer experience based on digital technology.

At this year’s IFSF (International Forecourt Standards Forum) Conference in Budapest, experts in the field gathered to share ideas and insight about how to make this connected future happen.

And global technology consultants REPL showcased how modern integration methods can streamline forecourt operations via their web service API prototype.

Read on to discover how this will help fuel retailers across the world keep up with the pace of change and meet evolving customer demand.

Understanding the IFSF Standards

The IFSF, a forum of international petroleum retailers and forecourt suppliers, works to harmonise equipment interconnectivity and communication standards for use in the fuel retail industry.

Established 25 years ago, the IFSF has set numerous standards which have been adopted on thousands of forecourts in an ever-increasing number of countries worldwide.

But the exponential pace of technology, changing consumer demands and a shift towards greener fuels means it’s time to evolve forecourt systems.

IFSF has started releasing specifications for the next generation of its forecourt protocols based on web service APIs. These will allow outdated site applications to be decoupled, opening the door to innovation for retailers.

Cloud-based and universally popular, the recommended web services protocols will modernise forecourt integration and futureproof IFSF’s standards.

Step Forward REPL

To demonstrate the viability and potential of the new API standards, IFSF invited REPL’s specialist consultants to review them.

As established experts in fuel retail and integration, the team reviewed the work to-date and its intended future direction. The expert team:

  • Assessed IFSF’s documentation, and tool and language choices
  • Interviewed the board, suppliers and partner organisations
  • Collated the findings into recommendations before delivering a comprehensive report to the board

Beyond the review of the written standards, REPL’s team of systems integration experts built a prototype simulator: the first reference implementation of the new standards.

The resulting forecourt pump simulator demonstrates the APIs in action. When developed into a complete simulator, it will enable retailers to interact with the previously only-documented protocols and to test the interoperability of existing and prototyped technology. An essential tool that, by creating a safe and affordable test environment for retailers, will save them time and money.

How Does the IFSF Standards Simulator Work?

The simulator implements part of the IFSF POS-FDC HTTP API.

It simulates a forecourt of fuelling points, each with nozzles that can be used to carry out transactions.

The pumps can be controlled manually through a simple web-based user interface. They can be queried and approved, and transactions can be retrieved and cleared.

Written in node.js, this simulator can be run in multiple environments. The APIs can be used with any HTTP client – a browser, Postman, cURL, a new product under development, or using the POS-like reference implementation that REPL has included.

Built entirely using commodity technology, this prototype demonstrates the potential for IFSF to provide a full set of simulated reference APIs as a cloud service to its members.

Showcasing the Simulator at IFSF 2019

Using REPL’s cloud-hosted web interfaces, delegates at IFSF 2019 were able to interact with the simulated forecourt, and make read-only requests directly to the simulator’s API on their own devices. This provided a clear demonstration of the technology’s ease of use and potential versatility.

Focusing on the theme of ‘disruption’, IFSF 2019 facilitated industry-leading talks and discussions. From retail and market trends to business strategies and the value of APIs, the conversation was rich and thought provoking.

Across all subjects, there was a common thread: how to continue to meet and exceed customers’ expectations in the current fuel retail business model while establishing foundations that allow evolution and pace of change.

And there was a clear consensus: technology innovation and APIs are crucial to achieving this and must be part of the future of the fuel retail industry.

With these pressing matters at hand, the simulator was well-received as a viable real-word use case and a demonstration of what can be achieved in a short space of time.

REPL’s Specialist Retail Expertise

Expert consultants in retail technology, REPL’s collaboration with IFSF on the review of the standards and its independent development of the simulator were a natural application of its expertise.

Innovation is at the heart of REPL, whose consultants solve complex challenges for global retailers across supply chain, customer experience, workforce transformation and enterprise systems. Our experience, expertise and advice enable retailers to implement and integrate the technology they need to compete in the new retail age.

As the IFSF rolls out its standards, as technology evolves and consumer expectations continue to rise, we can help your business leverage new and existing technology to transform with and ahead of the industry.

Contact REPL here to find out more.

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