20 Dec 2021

Drive C-Store Inside Sales and Track Category Growth with Your Loyalty Program

By: Brittany Maroney

Strategy

Loyalty sales can not only be a major driver of frequency, it also can help you identify trends and grow retail categories

Despite a return to normality and the fact that many consumers are starting to resume everyday shopping habits — c-stores have still seen challenges when it comes to foot traffic within their brick and mortar stores. U.S. commuters will spend 36 hours in traffic congestion this year, up 10 hours from last year but down 63 hours from 2019, according to Inrix’s 2021 Global Traffic Scorecard. This continues to test many convenience store locations as owners look to encourage spending beyond the pumps. More time in the car means less time to navigate shelves and make purchasing decisions.

The average customer spends less than three minutes inside a c-store, so it’s essential that retailers offer the latest and most requested products in order to stay competitive and relevant. It is equally challenging to identify merchandising opportunities and how to maximize customer touchpoints, as well as how to communicate with them- often digitally.

Because digital stickiness can be the savior when it comes to attracting new customers and driving incremental purchases, developing a well-honed digital strategy has become a critical component for many gas station and c-store operators. The goal? Cut through the noise, capture attention, deliver craveable experiences while ultimately building a loyal following. 

The adoption of digital strategies for many c-store brands have allowed them to engage their consumers through experiential apps that provide push notification on new product categories, locally based CPG items (think hot beverages for cold climates or regional flavors) and target time-based offers like breakfast sandwiches. These apps are often integrated with loyalty programs that provide users incentives like cashback on preferred items, point-based gamification, or even tiered rewards to incentive frequency. 

In addition, many industry leaders are expanding their offerings into the meal and grocery category that utilize their loyalty programs to target and drive new consumers to these product lines. The growth in grocery and general merchandise sales like salty snack and meat products has proven to be integral to continuing to grow revenues for many brands. 

These targeted campaigns, through loyalty programs, have also proven beneficial to mitigate supply chain issues. As shortages in things like styrofoam cups, paper goods, and baked items have become a challenge, operators are able to flex promotions to drive sales in other categories, alleviating some of the pressure on these product restraints. 

Through loyalty, categories can drive awareness by providing valuable information about their consumers’ shopping behaviors and purchases. The insights they provide c-store operators can help them drive more profitable growth when they opt to share information. For instance, when operators are looking to grow an age-based category, such as alcohol or tobacco products, loyalty programs are able to help these marketers identify specific demographics by age or purchasing history to offer promotions that can make the most impact. 

By gaining a deeper understanding of shoppers, c-stores can also create loyalty strategies that match their queueing lanes, creating offers that duplicate their stocked inventory. The queue allows customers to look at the top-selling items (ones that have the most loyalty rewards) without having to walk down the aisle, giving them a plethora of reward options while they wait to cash out.

By increasing basket size per trip, retailers can make use of merchandising based on customer data and loyalty insights, for example, by bundling confections with coffee or carbonated beverages. Developing such strategies comes not only from a well-designed marketing plan but also from the collaboration of category managers and marketing teams that can utilize their loyalty programs to examine the store’s overall performance rather than just the snack aisle.

The ability to know the customer as a whole is beneficial not only to sales but also to the business. It helps mitigate the risk of having excess products and provides operators with more data about their consumers. Data that they can use to help run a more seamless business model and one that puts craveable products at the consumers’ fingertips and creates an experience that is truly memorable and enjoyable. Loyalty programs are built to deliver that- to you and your customers.

Interested in learning more about how loyalty programs can revolutionize the buying experience within your c-store locations? We’d love to show you how! Book a personalized demo today, and you will be on your way to a more streamlined and effective merchandising experience.