Once upon a time, not that long ago really, getting gas for a vehicle looked much different. Gas pumping has progressed from having an attendant pump the customer’s gas, to customers going into the store and asking for “$20 on pump two,” to today’s pay-at-the-pump technology.
While that’s been a great time saver—the average convenience store fuel customer spends 5 minutes or less filling up a gas tank—it certainly cuts down on the potential for in-store sales. A few customers may venture in and pick up an item or two, but the vast majority pump gas, replace the gas cap, and drive on. In fact, 300 people visit a convenience store’s gasoline pumps a day, but only 35% of those customers step foot inside the store, according to industry experts at Convenience Store Products.
One of the toughest nuts to crack for gas station convenience store marketers is how to pull those customers from the pump to the store. Finding effective and convincing ways to move the in-store needle can make a huge difference for a business’ bottom line. Take those 300 customers mentioned above. If 35% are going in the store, that’s 105 customers. If each of those customers spent even just $1, that’s an extra $105 per day—or over $38,000 per year.
So, how can marketers find ways to convert gas pumpers to in-store purchasers? Here are a few potential methods that may help out.
Implement Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs are a great way to motivate those members to stay true to the brand, thereby increasing the visits they make as well as their spend. However, if the reward program is going to work, it must be of value to the customer. Something like a free cup of coffee or lower-margin food item on the fourth visit or earning points that can be used towards a gas card can make a customer feel like their participation is valuable to them. It can also be a key way to get already-loyal customers in the doors of the store. While they are redeeming that free cup of coffee, make sure the fresh donut display is close by or the grab-and-go breakfast items are shown off.
Cash Payment Discounts
Credit card processing fees are a big pain for any small business. Some gas stations have taken to eliminating that specific pain point by offering special discounts on gas prices for those customers who come in the store and pay cash. According to a study by Cardtronics, cash transactions still make up 63% of all convenience store purchases. Also, a report by NACS says that 23% of surveyed gas consumers primarily use cash to pay for their fuel. Offering a discount for those who pay with cash can not only take care of credit card fees, but can also get more customers—who already are shown to use cash for convenience store purchases—in the door with cash in hand.
Take Advantage of Pump Advertising with Audio Announcements
Customers are already at the pump and tend to be a captive audience. Why not take advantage of that and incorporate at-the-pump audio announcements? While digital displays and signage can certainly help, more often than not, the customer is looking around or is on their phone and may not see it. Using audio helps to ensure they know about the special two-gallon milk price or the daily deal on coffee and a pastry. Marketers can even work to daypart those announcements to hit key customer needs at certain times. For example, that coffee and a pastry deal? Great for the morning. But a pizza or a dinner item would better attract an evening commuter heading home.
Create a Positive In-store Vibe and Experience
No matter the business, the more pleasant the customer experience, the more likely they are to keep returning. This is just as true for convenience stores. Making the experience enjoyable by creating a great in-store vibe can keep customers coming in again and again. Create a playlist that appeals to the target customers, keep merchandise fresh and expertly displayed, and always keep things tidy. Also, make sure to keep customer wait times down, no matter what the time of day. Above all, keep the “convenience” in convenience store.
With the right in-store vibe and at-the-pump marketing tactics, customers will be much more likely to make their way into the store the next time they stop to grab gas. It just takes some planning and creativity along the way.
Interested in learning more? Request a demo of Vibenomics today and learn how you can start creating on-brand music and messaging for your in-store customers.