5 Business Challenges of Convenience Stores in Driving Sales

By: Melissa Canellis


Today’s c-store customers have a proliferation of options to meet their shopping needs, and a customized convenience store loyalty program is just the ticket to drive same store participation and sales. Additionally, the pandemic has accelerated an increased reliance on digital interactions. This has created an environment in which c-stores must expand their definition of “convenience” to include online ordering, curbside pickup, personalized mobile offers and more.  

Punchh helps top c-store brands enable a seamless and frictionless shopping experience to drive increased customer engagement and sales growth by building a strong c-store loyalty program. Read more to find out why c-stores are turning to Punchh to accelerate their digital capabilities. 

C-stores that want to stay competitive need to build meaningful customer relationships across multiple channels and touchpoints. Meeting the growing expectations of time-strapped and tech-savvy shoppers has raised the bar for brands to create a path of engagement that optimizes their loyalty through mobile channels and in-store experiences.

Achieving true loyalty today requires giving customers a reason to drive to your location. This means c-store chains need the ability to learn the digital identity of each individual customer, harness technology to get to know them better, and in turn, create relevant, real-time offers based on their behaviors and preferences. Customer relationships grow by delivering personalized messages and customized experiences that delight shoppers into engaging with your brand in-store, at the pump and online.

Very simply – c-store customer loyalty isn’t going to just happen today; it must be earned.

A digital c-store reward program can help chains deliver a rewarding omnichannel shopping experience by solving many of their pain points. 

Here are the Top 5 Convenience Store Retail Marketing Obstacles and How to Overcome Them: 

Pain Point #1 Customer demand for mobile convenience

Most customer lifestyles involve mobile devices and c-stores need to make the investment to position themselves on this channel. Amidst increasing competition from QSRs and grocery stores, c-stores must recognize that in order to compete they need to leverage digital technologies that capture loyalty and drive profitability. A mobile rewards app provides a digital connection that can be leveraged through the sending of offers, which customers can even view while at the pump to help drive them into the store. 

Punchh SolutionPunchh develops and powers mobile loyalty apps to run programs for customers to receive personalized offers, points and rewards for their everyday purchases and delivers a frictionless mobile check-out. Punchh customers can send SMS and push notifications to deliver personalized offers to consumers right at the pump. Innovative features such as Huck’s Bucks Reward Program’s exclusive in-app access for loyalty members 21 years and older, allows the brand to offer tobacco, lottery, alcohol and video gaming promotions. This section of the app helps ensure Huck’s has a wide range of redemption options to increase satisfaction and promote engagement among their customers, while staying true and committed to responsible retailing.

Pain Point #2 Accelerated interest in online ordering 

C-stores are striving to keep pace, as more grocery stores and restaurants are offering mobile order ahead, curbside pickup, and home delivery in addition to a host of online 3rd-party food delivery services standing ready to meet these needs. C-store customers now want this convenience from their brands too.

Smart c-stores have begun a digital transformation to compete for wallet share with mobile and online ordering. However, to deliver a seamless, frictionless experience brands need an integrated online ordering system with their current tech stack. Without the integration between the convenience store loyalty program and ordering system, the process is clunky and doesn’t allow for customers to earn/redeem points. This can cause customer confusion and does not incentivize online ordering, which may lead to a lack of online loyalty sales.

Punchh Solution – Our integrations with online ordering partners are powered by Punchh API integrations, which allow for seamless SSO, native ordering experience interface, and effortless real-time earning/redeeming for verified loyalty purchases. Punchh integrated with Casey’s, the fourth largest c-store retailer and the fifth largest pizza chain in the U.S., online ordering system through NCR to ensure their customers have a contactless, consistent in-app ordering experience and curbside pickup option. 

Pain Point #3 – Lack of POS and loyalty system integrations for real-time offer validation 

Brands need access to robust data, which is provided from POS transactions. Without the ability to gather and analyze this data, brands lose out on valuable information about their customers’ behaviors and preferences. In order to build meaningful relationships, c-stores need to create highly-defined customer segments and personalized offers that drive sales lift and increase lifetime value. With offer creation also comes the stress of remembering to correctly set all the SKUs and modifiers within the system. Integrated systems provide marketers with the ability to make real-time adjustments to receipt criteria or the offer on the fly, without the help of IT.       

Punchh Solution – Punchh has out-of-the-box integrations with all leading c-store POS and payment providers, including Gilbarco, Verifone, NCR, Bulloch POS, and others, to accelerate time-to-market and ROI for c-stores. Through membership with Conexxus, Punchh also provides secure API integrations and interfaces to support specific c-store needs. 

Punchh’s POS integrations are best-in-class because of the richness of data we receive and the complexity of offers. This allows brands to have unique offers tailored to their customers for optimal changes in behavior. Our customers experience 99% uptime with our POS API’s and therefore do not suffer from server connectivity issues to validate offers or allow guests to earn/redeem points, reducing fraud and unnecessary discounting. 

Pain Point #4Disparate solutions for customer messaging and offer delivery

Marketers need a single platform that does all the heavy lifting for them. Marketing programs running on outdated legacy systems that lack system integrations will no longer succeed. Marketing spend on technology is on the rise as brands embrace cloud technology, data collection and analytics, automation, and security, which provide cstores of all sizes the ability to know their customers and scale.  

An innovative platform delivers a 360-degree customer view by bringing together data on customer demographics, geographics, in-store purchases, sentiment analysis, loyalty status, etc. and organizes it around individuals for brands to personalize their marketing initiatives and serve-up real-time, relevant offers. 

Punchh Solution – The Punchh Loyalty, Offers and Engagement Platform provides marketers with a single, scalable platform to execute their marketing and loyalty strategies with ease. It creates an important hub that unifies data from multiple sources and makes it actionable to drive and optimize customer loyalty interactions that increases participation and ROI.  

Working from the Punchh Platform, c-store marketers have the right integrations and tools to create personalized offers executed through automated campaigns and delivered in real-time over customers’ preferred channels. This type of personalization connects brands with their  customers through omnichannel interactions that drive foot traffic from the pump into the store. 

Pain Point #5 – Leaner marketing teams and little IT support

The pandemic has left many c-store marketers working on leaner teams. The value of a loyalty solution is not just the tech and tools it provides, but also the ease of integrations that don’t require IT support and the customer’s ability to effectively use and understand the platform. On-demand training, such as the Punchh certification program, provides marketers with video instruction to learn the platform, create customer segments, and build out campaigns with specific offers. Often smaller brands are not provided the training and guidance they need to deliver effective loyalty campaign ROI. Once this becomes apparent it forces brands to reach for outside support from multiple vendors, which becomes very costly and cumbersome. 

Punchh Solution – While Punchh is enterprise-scalable it’s also SMB-flexible. And because marketers often work on lean teams, Punchh Managed Services provides help with the creation and delivery of a brand’s campaigns. Customers gain access to best-in-class practices and resources to drive their marketing efforts and grow the acquisition and retention of their rewards members. A dedicated CSM helps marketers track and measure recency, frequency, and spend so daily marketing initiatives are optimized for targeting all three aspects of CLV. 

C-stores that work hard to cultivate long-standing, personal relationships will create the sense of specialness needed to drive genuine customer loyalty. The kind of loyalty that increases customer frequency, order size, and same store sale through enhanced and sustained program participation rates. The key measurements that are the pulse of a c-store’s financial health and enduring success. 

Learn more about how the Punchh Platform helps brands drive profitable relationships through customized convenience store loyalty programs.


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