The forecourt sector is facing huge changes. With shrinking margins on fuel and government initiatives to eliminate the sale of petrol and diesel cars in the next twenty years the role of forecourt retailing will need to shift from primarily, fuel to other services.
Leading forecourt brands are already planning for these changes. Many fuel brands have focused on adding good quality food and coffee offerings to their c-stores to encourage footfall and customer spend.
When it comes to food offering “68 per cent of C-store food and beverage purchases are unplanned and purchased on impulse once seen in the store”.
A good loyalty program can ensure customers choose your store over competitors, and once the consumer is inside the store, the food offering becomes paramount.
Traditionally, the fuel retail sector is price sensitive and the lowest price wins out when it comes to fuel providers. However, the shift from products like fuel towards services like food and coffee offerings are going to change this tradition and forecourts will have to focus heavily on customer experience to remain competitive. Including services like play areas for children, office meeting space, parcel motels and laundry services for commuters will become crucial, particularly for motorway locations.
Employing an effective loyalty program with an aim of delivering a compelling customer experience will ensure footfall and encourage spending at fuel retailing stores.
Once the consumer is incentivised to your franchise, your convenience food offering comes into play. Fuel retail outlets cater to a range of audiences. To make the most out of the footfall, c-stores need to prepare their stores with promotions. This begins by optimising their loyalty program and using integrated loyalty technology to capture valuable data.
Understanding customer data allows c-stores to enhance their food offering and services by accommodating the needs of the customer. This is paramount to ensure your meeting your customers’ expectations.
The implementation of integrated loyalty software provides the groundwork for productive c-store food offering and services. Integrated loyalty programs are the most effective and innovative way to ensure repeat custom as it is a convenient method for customers to engage with brand loyalty.
Ensuring that you provide tailored motivations for your customers is essential as they need to emotionally engage with your services. The successful implementation of a loyalty program is the difference between a good customer experience, a deeper understanding of your customers, repeat custom and competitive advantage, and losing your customers to another franchise.
To find a loyalty program that will engage the audience of your forecourt and convenience food offering, one must think more broadly about ‘spend’, customer tiers, and in what way you can integrate it into your digital platform:
How long/frequent are consumer visits?
At what times of the day?
What is the average spend?
What is the average age of consumer?
Loyalty programs are about creating emotional engagement between your business and the consumer. Ensuring that you know, and understand, your consumer’s behaviour is the most important factor in getting a loyalty program right. After that, it is about choosing the right structure to suit your business. A popular forecourt and convenience sector strategy is gamification.
Gamification has become increasingly popular because it places the rewards of loyalty within a gaming context, combining game design, loyalty concepts and customer data to engage consumers. Gamification has the power to change consumer behaviour to suit the needs of your business.
The evolution of technology has aided the implementation of gamification strategies, as more generations are exposed to the digital experience. ‘Play or Park’ by Topaz Energy, now, Circle K, is an example of a successful use of this program.
Read about some of the best fuel loyalty programs to date: