How Loyalty Programs Can Help Drive Foot Traffic into C-Stores

By: Anthony Giampa


In the ever-evolving landscape of convenience stores, the key to success lies in understanding and leveraging changing customer behaviors. One key focal point of this transformation is the role of loyalty programs, which have proven to be a powerful tool for driving traffic and enhancing shopper experiences.

Today’s c-store customers are different in both how they shop and what they are shopping for. They are more tech-savvy, want elevated food options, and of course – they want convenience. Keeping ahead of trends and understanding their customers will help brands continue to drive traffic and improve their overall experience.

Recently, a fundamental shift has been observed in the reasons that customers choose convenience stores. The 2023 C-store IQ Loyalty Report highlights that one in three shoppers actively participates in a convenience store rewards program, presenting a significant opportunity for brands to tap into and influence consumer decisions by utilizing personalized offers, or discounts.

Influences on C-store Visits

Understanding the factors that motivate customers to visit convenience stores is crucial. Enrolling in a loyalty program not only influences why people visit specific convenience stores but also can play a role in when people visit these stores. The 2023 C-store IQ National Shopper Study identifies loyalty programs as a key influencer, with 20% of customers stating it as the reason for their visit. Brands can create personalized offers for customers that need to be redeemed within a specific time frame, creating a sense of urgency and increasing traffic either in-store or through mobile ordering.

C-store Mobile App Dominance

The utilization of mobile apps within loyalty programs is a game-changer. Three in five loyalty program members engage through mobile apps, underlining the importance of digital platforms in attracting and retaining customers. Convenience stores can harness this trend by incorporating emerging loyalty marketing strategies, such as in-app messaging, geotargeting, SMS, push notifications, and delivery services powered by loyalty programs. These strategies enhance customer engagement and provide personalized experiences, driving repeat visits.

C-store Tech Trends in 2024

Looking forward, technology will continue to shape the convenience store landscape. Loyalty programs, aligned with emerging tech trends, can be instrumental in driving traffic. Anticipated trends include an 81% expectation of increased delivery orders and high satisfaction levels (72%) with mobile coupons and discounts. Additionally, 81% of customers appreciate the convenience of mobile payments. By keeping these tech trends in mind while optimizing their loyalty programs, convenience stores can further incentivize customer visits.

C-store Marketing Next Steps

Loyalty programs are the cornerstone for convenience stores seeking to thrive in a dynamic market. By strategically implementing and optimizing loyalty initiatives, businesses can not only attract but also retain customers, ultimately driving increased traffic. Embracing the digital realm, capitalizing on customer trends, and offering innovative loyalty rewards will position convenience stores at the forefront of the industry, ensuring sustained success in attracting and retaining a loyal customer base.

To learn more about how PAR Punchh is helping c-stores optimize their loyalty strategies, check out our latest c-store infographic for a complete look at all the growth opportunities for chains.

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