Lagging c-store sales? Here’s how upgraded loyalty can help.

Competition among fuel and convenience retailers is fierce. If your c-store brand lacks an engaging loyalty program, you’re missing out on opportunities to increase revenue and build brand affinity.

Lagging c-store sales? Here’s how upgraded loyalty can help.

One of the best ways to keep your convenience customers happy and solve for business problems is through a great loyalty program. Take Lou Perrine’s Gas & Grocery and their Monday dilemma—without fail, every week, business was way down on that day of the week.

Casting about for solutions, they decided to introduce “Double Points Monday” to their loyalty program. The result? They turned Mondays into money makers. And that’s just one way c-stores can upgrade their loyalty programs so they incentivize their customers and build their business.

 Tips for building a successful c-store loyalty program

The psychology behind loyalty programs is pretty easy to understand; people respond to motivation. And what’s more motivating than getting something seemingly for free? It explains why an estimated 43 percent of consumers belong to c-store loyalty programs.

And while motivation to get rewards from your convenience store brand is the primary reason why your customers sign up, successful programs go way beyond just rewarding points customers can use for discounts on gas and goods. It could mean the difference between fuel customers just driving off after filling up—or being compelled to come into your store to spend more.

 Yesterday’s loyalty punch card is today’s engagement opportunity

Outdated loyalty programs had consumers carrying around a beat-up piece of paper stamped or hole-punched each time they made a particular purchase—and that’s it. Today, however, a c-store loyalty program should involve much more than that: it should offer ways to engage with consumers.

A recent Gallup poll shows customers who have emotional ties to their brands spend 46 percent more in the store and are more likely to visit it frequently. So, when you’re planning a loyalty program, make it personal. And the best way to get there is to capture your customer’s data, turn it into insights about them and then engage them in ways you know they’ll respond to. Here are some tips.

 Up the rewards.

An easy way to frustrate your customers is give them a loyalty program that, after they’ve invested in it, ends up giving them virtually nothing. They will remember how many times they made purchases, all the times they had to fish out their loyalty card, only to eventually realize their effort was for nothing. It’s an easy way to lose a customer. So, pack your loyalty program with real benefits that they can use as early as possible. From gift cards to cash back to points and VIP programs, incentivize in ways that will set you apart.

 Make it easy to use.

One way to pique your customer’s interest in your loyalty program is by not asking them to perform a lot of steps to join it. So, just ask for their basic information and make it as easy as possible for them to provide it. You can always capture additional data over time. If you have an app, make it as simple as a quick download that doesn’t have a ton of sign-up fields to activate. Either way, keep in mind that most of your customers always feel pressed for time, which is why they’re coming to your convenience store in the first place.

 Fuel rewards are still king.

According to a 2019 Roads to Rewards report, 66 percent of consumers are enrolled in a fuel rewards program and they actively use it regardless of whether gas prices are high or low. In fact, fuel savings has been the largest driver of customers joining loyalty programs for years—and that’s not likely to change.

People enjoy finding ways to save money on fuel; it’s a regular part of many of their conversations and they also know which convenience stores offer the best fuel rewards program. So, if you don’t have a fuel rewards program, now is a great time to add one and make it competitive.

 Amp up your app.

With a huge uptick in the use of mobile payments (especially in a contactless, COVID-era world), many of your customers will appreciate the option of having an app they can use to access their benefits. Give them the ability to scan coupons, get gift cards and pay using their app and more, such as getting a loyalty offer in their app that’s triggered when they pass a geofence. They’ll appreciate it that much more since they won’t have to touch a screen or a keypad to engage. This is not only a safety measure for your customers, it’s faster, more convenient and makes it easy to engage with brands they love on demand—so make sure you’re one of them.

 Put the control in their hands.

You’ve already given them the incentives that they want, now give them choices on how to use their rewards. They’re way more likely to return to your store when they’ve earned enough points or cash back to pick out something they would normally buy—and pay nothing for it. It’s like giving your best customers a gift and why not? It’s a simple strategy that works.

 Make sure it seamlessly interacts with your POS.

When you enable your point-of-sale system to scan an app or a card, you make it easy and safe for your customers to use their rewards. And, with an advanced convenience store POS system, you can effortlessly integrate mobile payments that happen in your loyalty app, delivering more customer purchase data that improves your loyalty program, while making your systems more efficient.  

Fighting your competition for customers isn’t always easy—especially when consumer behaviors (and even loyalty) are changing so much amid the pandemic. Without a great loyalty program that engages your customers, you could miss out on added revenue and the chance to keep your current customers.

But with a stellar customer loyalty program, not only do you stand a much better chance of keeping your best customers, you’re more like to gain new ones when current customers brag about all the great things they’re earning and saving from your c-store. After all, loyalty is something that’s earned for a reason: once you’ve got it, it’s hard to lose.