Recently I came across an article titled with the question “Convenience Store Loyalty on the Skids?” The article points to data from Colloquy’s Loyalty Census that reports on consumer participation in loyalty programs across all verticals. In 2012 25.3 million consumers participated in c-store rewards programs showing a decrease of 21% from 2010 and 34% from 2006.
Even though the census shows a decrease in consumer participation I think the article takes a leap when they say loyalty is on the skids for c-stores. What I see is an opportunity for evolving c-store rewards programs to better meet consumer’s needs. Colloquy also points out that focusing on member engagement and rethinking rewards beyond just fuel discount can help grow consumer participation.
From my experience as a consumer and a loyalty marketing professional I see 4 key factors for c-stores to focus on.
1. Quick and Easy Enrollment
The transaction time at c-stores is quick (21 seconds to pay) and enrolling in a rewards program needs to be seamless so customers will be willing to enroll. There are a number of ways to make enrollment in your rewards program fast. Ideas include: VeriFone terminals used to swipe a driver’s license, customers entering their phone numbers on a mobile app or online through the website.
2. Collecting Customer Information
If you are going to go through the effort to have a rewards program and have your customers enroll, you should be collecting information that will help you market to them. While it is important to enroll your customers quickly in the store don’t be tempted to give them a physical rewards card that is not tied to any customer data and send them on their way. If you are going to have a rewards program you should know the customers that are using it.
3. Connecting with Customers
Now that you have their information, send your customers email and text promotions to bring them into the store. One of the key issues facing c-stores is getting consumers away from the pumps and into the store. Gas discount programs may bring them to your parking lot, but a rewards program with promotional specials, free items and merchandise discount can bring your customers in your store.
4. Rewarding and Learning
Sending customers promotions and communications about their rewards will increase the frequency of their visits. Set up a reward reminder promotion that automatically emails or texts your customers when they have spent enough to earn a reward. Send out promotions for a donut or banana with the purchase of a coffee in the morning. Once you are sending communications and using your rewards program to track participation and redemption back to the customer, you can learn more about what promotions are effective for your customers.
The evolution of c-store loyalty rewards programs falls in line with the evolution of all loyalty going on currently. Businesses are using their rewards programs to learn more about their customers and how to market to them effectively. This includes everything from knowing how your customers want to receive communications from you, to what kinds of rewards they will redeem, to what customers like about your business.