Industry Terms
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C-store - Convenience Store

According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), the definition of a convenience store is as follows: 1) While building size may vary significantly, typically the size will be less than 5,000 ft; 2) Have off-street parking and/or convenient pedestrian access; 3)Extended hours of operation with many open 24 hours, seven days a week; 4)Stock at least 500 stock keeping units (SKU s); and 5)Product mix includes grocery type items, and also includes items from the following groups: beverages, snacks (including confectionery) and tobacco.

Branded Fuel

Retail fuel sold under a major brand name (i.e. BP, Chevron, Shell)


The structure covering the pump islands

Category Manager

Person responsible for a particular or several specific categories within the convenience store operations for their chain.


Card Readers in Dispenser. Originally a Gilbaco (manufacturer) term, now used generically.


Dealers purchase and maintain an inventory of the merchandise to be sold and therefore share the costs of marketing and distribution with the manufacturer and wholesaler. Dealers differ from manufacturer's representatives and brokers, who never take title to the merchandise.


Dealer Tank Wagon-Wholesale price of gasoline delivered to a retail outlet (transportation costs are included)

Downstream Operations

Operations concerned with oil refining, transportation and gasoline marketing.


Electronic Point Of Sale.


1. license granted by a company (the franchisor ) to an individual or firm (the franchisee ) to operate a retail, food, or drug outlet where the franchisee agrees to use the franchisor's name; products; services; promotions; selling, distribution, and display methods; and other company support. McDonald's, Midas, and Holiday Inn are all examples of franchise operations.

2. right to market a company's goods or services in a specific territory, which right has been granted by the company to an individual, group of individuals, marketing group, retailer, or wholesaler.

3.specific territory or outlet involved in such a right.


Full-service — means food is prepared on site, and at the point of purchase, for a specific customer. Store personnel prepare and serve food. This could be a QSR like a Subway in the store.

Limited-service — means there is food preparation in the store, but NOT at the point of purchase by the customer. An employee may be dedicated to preparing sandwiches a few hours a day, or burritos, etc. — but the customer buys it off a warmer or package. 

Self-serve — means there is no preparation of food in the store. A customer may buy a hot dog from a roller grill or a doughnut from a case. No employee is dedicated to foodservice. They may put hotdogs on the roller or doughnuts in the case as part of the rest of their job.

Independent marketer

A petroleum retailer not affiliated with a major brand

Independent Refiner

A petroleum refining company that is not a major brand.


Pump islands typically have one or two MPDs. (multiple product dispensers — associated with fuel).


A local company that owns or supplies properties with petroleum products obtained from local supply points (wholesaler); or by a third party, non-oil company (i.e. convenience store chain such as 7-Eleven or Quik Trip) that sells gasoline, does not produce product, and usually buys at the branded or unbranded rack or is supplied indirectly.  May or may not own and operate retail outlets.  Also known as a distributor or marketer or middleman. Middleman in the sale of goods; one who buys from a wholesaler and sells to a retailer. A jobber, who actually purchases goods himself and then resells them, is distinguished from a broker or agent, who sells goods on another's behalf. "Jobber" is also called a marketer or a wholesaler.

Rack jobbers

Merchant wholesalers providing merchandise and rack displays at retail locations. Rack jobbers own the merchandise and work cooperatively with retailers in terms of sharing profits, thus relieving the retailer of the need to acquire merchandise while allowing him/her to benefit from the sale of the merchandise.

Lessee/Lease Dealer

The dealer owns the business. A major or regional oil company or a distributor owns the land and building (i.e. gas station) and leases it to a dealer. The dealer operates the location and pays rent to the owner (as opposed to an open dealer that owns the property). This arrangement gives the oil company or distributor a guaranteed supply outlet for their petroleum products, pursuant to a supply contract. A typical lessee dealer operates 1-2 stores and does not wholesale gasoline. Also known as company controlled, contractor-operated, and direct serve dealer.


Any company or person that retails (sells) motor fuels. May or may not sell branded gasoline. Term is used interchangeably with fuel wholesaler. An older term is jobber.


Large multinational oil companies involved in all aspects of oil production, including both upstream and downstream activities

MPDs Multiple Product Dispenser

Many people believe these to be pumps. Most MPDs have six hoses and dispense all three grades of fuel.

Open Dealer

An individual (who may own several properties that retail gasoline products) owns and operates the building/facility/property (as opposed to a lessee dealer who does not own the property). The typical open dealer operates between 1 and 10 locations. A major or regional oil company, or a large local wholesaler supplies the facility directly. Open dealers can evolve into a distributor if they achieve a large enough volume.

POS system

Point of sale computer systems, which typically include bar code scanners, automated price look-up, and inventory tracking components.


Petroleum Marketing Practices Act . Federal law offers certain protections, somewhat similar to franchise protection laws. Keep in mind that some oil companies are technically franchisers, for example, Arco AM/PM, Texaco Star mart and Jackpot Convenience Stores. Franchisers must comply with state and federal franchise laws as well.

Pooled Margin

Weighted average cents per gallon from all fuel grades, usually with the exception of diesel.

Rack price

Price at which the majors and independent refineries sell branded or unbranded gasoline to jobber/wholesalers. It is related to the commodity spot price, but adjusted for transportation, overhead, and profit.

Retail price

Petroleum price set by a marketer selling to the general public.

Salary Operation

A major or regional oil company owns the building/facility and business. The company pays a salary to the managers/proprietors and usually produces and supplies petroleum products to the location. Also known as company-operated and direct operating retail.

Service bays

Where auto repair is done at a service station.


Inventory/merchandise loss resulting from theft, spoilage, short deliveries, etc.

Spot Price

Petroleum price on the commodity market. Rack price is based on the spot price.

Starting gate

A modern design of positioning pump islands so that cars are facing the c-store while refueling.

Stock keeping unit (SKU)

A number given to each item (by category and brand) stocked in a retail outlet for inventory and tracking purposes.

Store margin

Profit margin in convenience stores, typically ranging from 30% - 35%.

Supply contract

The agreement a dealer makes with a supplier to secure fuel.


Tires, batteries and accessories.


A physical storage facility for petroleum products, typically supplied through a pipeline from a refinery, where jobbers/wholesalers purchase and obtain gasoline at the rack price.

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