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Engage customers at the pump to drive connection at a time of distancing

Published November 17, 2020


It’s been months since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, with many twists and turns affecting c-stores since then. But, there is a constant: consumers want you to meet their social distancing demands which is a must for maintaining customer loyalty.

That’s why it’s important for c-stores to engage more with their customers at the pump as they safely fill up their gas tanks. And, with consumers visiting the pump less during the pandemic, c-store owners and operators need to find other ways to increase their revenue, by bringing them into the store and offering non-traditional services. Here’s how forecourt advertising can help.


How to maximize forecourt advertising

It takes an average 2 minutes to refuel a car. During that idle time, your customers are often mindlessly watching the scrolling numbers on the pump, looking at your store signs for relevant offers, sitting in their cars or looking at their phones.

Why not use this time to your advantage? Today's consumer craves constant content consumption. So, give them something interesting to look at, whether it’s eye-catching signage or at-pump video screens to promote in-store offers. Immerse your captive audience in a brand-driven narrative to increase sales and drive return visits.

  • Why not consider digital signage?
    Some c-store owners are investing heavily in digital signage that has the technology to strongly engage with their customers. When paired with “proximity beacons,” they can change ads as customers move around the store, showing them offers on things they’ve purchased in the past. Some are even going big with billboards that also can change as their customers drive near them, showing offers that get them off the freeway and into their stores.
  • What can your station offer to customers that the competitor cannot?
    Consider ways to make your store stand out. Whether that’s with a strong curbside presence coupled with contactless payments and engagement at the pump through your loyalty program, get your customers coming back and telling their family and friends to do the same. 


Advertise out-of-stock grocery items.

Some grocery stores are still experiencing selling out of high-demand items. And, c-stores can serve as a lifeline to consumers unable to find things like toilet paper and cleaning supplies elsewhere. So, when you have a consumer at the pump, take the opportunity to let them know that you have a well-stocked inventory of essential items waiting inside. With oil demand decreasing as more consumers stay at home, it’s a good time for c-store retailers to expand their in-store selection by offering items that are running low at grocery stores.


Increase gas station foot traffic during a pandemic

It might seem like a big task to bring in more business during COVID-19, but focusing on ways to increase speedy, safe ways to give consumers what they want can help during this time and in the future.


Get more customers coming to your store with curbside and self-service:

Offer contactless, quick curbside pickup. For many c-store owners and operators, providing services curbside hasn’t been a large part of their business plan—until now. And they join other retailers, like restaurant owner and operators, in having to quickly make a curbside plan that not only caters to their customers’ demands, but does so safely and in a way that promotes their brand rather than takes away from it.  For c-stores, you’ll want to consider the following when making a plan for curbside:

  • Examine your forecourt and restructure it (if necessary) to have very clear areas set up for curbside pickup. Make signs that lead customers to the correct lanes and direct them where to stop their cars.
  • If you have a mobile app, use it to communicate every step of the ordering process—find out when customers are on their way, give them an option to let you know that they’ve arrived.
  • Get your staffing set up to implement your curbside pickup. Pick a person to supervise each shift, decide if you want to have a stand for them as a constant point of contact for customers.
  • Decide what you’re going to offer your customers and how you’ll package it. This is an opportunity to expand your offerings and to push your brand with smart, creative packaging.

Supercharge self-service. Many c-stores were already starting to implement self-checkout kiosks in their stores and other self-service technologies, but simpler things like expanding roller grills to include more than just hot dogs can be helpful, too. Increasing ready-to-serve food and providing customers with contactless ways to pay not only addresses social distancing, it ups your convenience factor.

Take your store to them. In 2019, 7-11 started offering delivery services to their customers and it’s been a hit—especially during the pandemic. Now 90 percent of their stores offer delivery services from slurpees to energy shots. “How convenience is defined is completely different today than it was just a month ago,” said Chris Tanco, 7‑Eleven Chief Operating Officer. “Our customers are now looking for more convenient shopping solutions at home. Every day, 7‑Eleven is working hard to come up with new ways to ensure that people can still get the products they need and want in the most convenient way for them.” 


Above all, give them high-quality customer service that builds loyalty

Now is a good time to better engage your customers. Whether it’s investing in digital displays that offer vending and ordering at the pump, you’ll want to choose at-the-pump technology that allows customers to select, purchase, and pick up products right next to the pump while integrating with your POS system to streamline the payment process.

That way, your customers can seamlessly refuel their car and purchase everything from tasty treats to toilet paper without ever having to leave the pump, maintaining social distancing from other shoppers—and getting the customer service they’ve been wanting. And, with the support of outdoor payment terminals delivering targeted, engaging content and customer-specific offers—right at the pump, c-stores drive higher revenue by increasing opportunities to convert fuel-only customers and create greater brand loyalty.

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