Selling gasoline is an uphill battle for retailers. Volatile costs and fierce competition along with consumers’ focus on finding the best deal means convenience stores have to work extra hard to ensure their regular customers—as well as new ones—find exactly what they’re looking for at the right price. One retailer, Sheetz, with 590 stores in six states, is doing just that.
Since 1952, when Bob Sheetz founded the company, Sheetz stores have been providing what the community clamored for, starting out as dairy providers then adding convenience items, food and finally gasoline. In 2015, the chain started offering E15 gasoline, a cleaner-burning, higher efficiency fuel, in its North Carolina locations, and now, more than 265 Sheetz locations offer the fuel. “We’re building 20 to 30 new stores a year and they all will have both E15 and E85,” said Mike Lorenz, executive vice president of fuels for Sheetz.
Why the addition?
“When we added E15 andE85 to our offering, it was not at the expense of any other grade. This was because we wanted to give our customers more choices at the gas island. Customers have five grades of gasoline to choose from: 87, 89, 93, E15 and E85—plus diesel,” said Lorenz. The choice to offer E15 came down to giving customers more options. “Part of our brand promise is to offer our customers a choice of quality products. We believe that E15 has a strong value proposition and therefore met that criteria. Why would you not buy a product that’s cheaper, environmentally friendly and better performing?”
Increasing customer loyalty
One big benefit of offering E15 gasoline is that it is generally sold at a lower cost than traditional fuels. When it comes to retailing gasoline, a lower price translates to increased traffic. “The consumer is highly sensitive to gasoline prices and will change their behavior for as little as three cents per gallon,” Lorenz said. “One of the biggest obstacles a lot of retailers face today is foot traffic. So being able to offer a product that can be a differentiator can provide a competitive edge bringing in new customers and help retain current customers.”
Expanding fuel offerings has to be done strategically to ensure success. “Without Growth Energy’s involvement,” Lorenz said, “We probably would not have entered the E15 market. They have been a good partner and a valuable resource since the very first step, and still are today.”
By partnering with an expert in E15, retailers can seamlessly add additional fuel options to their lineup and set their stores up for continued success.
Lorenz said, “The sales growth and performance results speak for themselves. We’ve sold millions of gallons to thousands of customers. A consumer votes for a product they like by purchasing it, and they like E15.”
With retailers being able to sell E15 year-round now, the fuel’s growth in popularity is only expected to continue
This post is sponsored by Growth Energy