BOSTON — While nearly three-fourths (73%) of convenience-store revenue comes from in-store sales, a similar percentage of consumers don’t enter the store after they fill up on gas, mobile app GasBuddy said in its new report From Canopy to Store: How to Turn Fuel Customers Into Store Customers.
The study examined approximately 20,000 c-store visits from July to December 2018 to convey what encourages consumers to enter the store, and what keeps them away, after fueling up.
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“GasBuddy has studied this issue extensively,” the company said. “Our findings indicate that forecourt conversion rates are highly sensitive to whether or not retailers meet consumers’ basic needs for safety, cleanliness and hospitality. Furthermore, consumers show strong interest in specific strategies and promotions that can help convert fuel-only customers and drive incremental visits from those who already visit the convenience store.”
Here are four ways to bring consumers into c-stores after they fuel up, according to Boston-based GasBuddy …
1. Clean the forecourt
Eight in 10 consumers said cleanliness of the fueling area has a strong or moderate influence on their opinion of a c-store before they go inside, the report said. Tidying up this area may sway consumers to enter the store after they get gas, and vice versa.
“The forecourt is the first handshake that welcomes customers to the store,” GasBuddy said. “If consumers perceive a store as dirty, boring or unexceptional, then they’re unlikely to come inside.”
2. Clean the restrooms
Two-thirds of consumers said they’ve visited a c-store with the intent of using the restroom but decided to leave and go elsewhere, the report said. Moreover, 42% said they’d probably visit a c-store if it were promoted as having clean, quality restrooms. Clean restrooms are expected among consumers who visit c-stores, GasBuddy said.
“When retailers fail to meet the need for safety and cleanliness, it casts doubt upon every aspect of their operations—especially foodservice,” GasBuddy said. “As retailers continue to place increased emphasis on hot dispensed beverages and proprietary foodservice, quality restrooms are nonnegotiable.”
3. Advertise rewards programs
Boosting loyalty rewards for fuel savings via smartphones is likely to bring consumers in to c-stores. Nearly 73% of consumers said they use their phones while fueling up, and 92% of women and 86% of men said mobile advertisements regarding rewards for fuel savings would influence their decision to visit the store. Promoting fuel discounts opens up many opportunities to drive in-store sales through relevant offers and promotions, GasBuddy said.
4. Build a reputation
More than half (58%) of consumers said a brand’s reputation has a strong or moderate influence on their opinion of a store before they go inside. Also, 55% said the same regarding the opinions of friends and family. Providing a quality customer experience allows retailers to boost their brand’s reputation and drive sales, GasBuddy said.
“Retailers no longer own their brand—the customers do,” the company said. “What they say in online reviews and share with friends and family has a significant impact on brand perceptions.”