Published November 16, 2020
It’s been five years since industry standards mandated EMV compliance to combat credit and debit card fraud. But, for convenience and fuel retailers, adoption has come more slowly than it has for other merchants—making c-stores a target for thieves. Fortunately, 2020 has seen much more EMV compliance for these retailers. According to Digital Transactions, there’s been a steady increase this year—just 31 percent of c-stores don’t have any EMV pump readiness compared to 70 percent in 2019. So, now that you’re EMV compliant, it’s time to reap the rewards.
More and more consumers want to engage with brands who create modern, personalized experiences. That’s proven to be a challenge for c-stores, where an estimated 70 percent of consumers don’t make it past the pump and into the store. But, that’s changing through more engagement at the pump, via mobile apps and in loyalty programs (which customers love). And now that you’re EMV compliant, you have another opportunity to engage with them.
To start, let them know you’re EMV compliant—that alone can help increase your customer’s loyalty, since you’re showing them you care about protecting them from fraud. Here are some ways to do it:
Your customers already appreciate that you have a loyalty program that rewards them for choosing your store over other brands. Use this opportunity to give them another way to earn something. Invite them to come by your store and dip their EMV card X amount of times for a discount at the pump or a free item in your store.
Make sure to lead your messaging by letting them know you have their protection in mind and that you’d like them to see it for themselves. It’s a great way to engage with them and build trust. If you, like many other c-stores, are using loyalty programs to capture customer information, you can create more personalized offers.
Related: Unlock the full potential of your forecourt with at-the-pump advertising. Get the white paper to learn more.
Becoming EMV compliant isn’t a small thing for your employees who, until now, have had to tell customers repeatedly to swipe the mag stripe—instead of inserting the chip like customers are used to doing by now. Once you have your EMV chip readers in place and running smoothly, do some test runs with your employees and even create signage (“We care about your financial safety. Now you can dip your chip instead of swiping, for more secure transactions!”) to let customers know. When your employees are excited and engaging your customers, it’s another way to build customer loyalty.
It’s always a priority to give your customers what they want, knowing you’re providing them with great service, but let’s face it. Now that you’re EMV compliant, it’s nice breathing easier when it comes to shelling out money on chargebacks. Now that you can accept EMV debit and credit cards, you won’t be the liable party when a counterfeit card is used. And, it’s not such a bad thing to say goodbye to fees charged by your merchant service company—either monthly or annually—for not being EMV compliant.
You’ve already made a big tech change that will increase your customer loyalty. So why not take it further by enabling your POS system to accept contactless payments? Already on the rise, the pandemic has quickly pushed demand for contactless to new heights and it’s only going to increase. So, while your customers appreciate your efforts to protect their payments, they also want all the convenience and safety of contactless payments and to be able to use their digital wallets.
There’s been a movement towards delivery in the c-store space for a few years; the pandemic has just increased the demand for it. One of the largest convenience stores, 7-11, tested an app-based delivery service in 2017. Today, they’re delivering to more than 23 million households. That’s an impressive result. And with the pandemic increasing demand for delivery, it’s a savvy move for c-stores looking to differentiate their customer experience—and their brand.
When your customers are pumping their gas waiting for the tank to fill, you have the perfect opportunity to engage with them. With a forecourt payments solution like NCR’s OPTIC that runs personalized loyalty offers and other engaging content on your pump display screens, you can drive them past the pump and into your store—which helps boost revenues. You can also offer them useful information that helps build relationships with your customers.
Train your employees to use the EMV chip reader well enough to easily show your customers how to do it. And prep them to handle times when your customer’s chips are rejected—likely, it’ll be because their chip is dirty. Have employees explain that, if that’s the case, they can gently wipe their chip on their sleeve and try again. If it’s rejected after three times, your employees should ask customers to use their mag stripe.
It’s not likely going to be a common issue, but some of your customers may be somewhat new to “dipping.” Either through your employees or signage, communicate the simple steps it takes to insert and use their chip.
After you have your new EMV chip readers installed, have your service provider on speed dial in case any glitches come up. If you’ve chosen a solid provider, they should be able to trouble shoot any problems very quickly (hopefully you researched well and choose wisely). Make sure your employees have your service provider’s contact information readily available, too.
When your customer’s chip isn’t working, they may want to know why their mag stripe still works. You can have your employees explain that using their stripe is always an option, but the chip is more secure. If they can’t dip their card and they must use their mag stripe, have your employees explain that it’s just temporary and apologize for the inconvenience.
Congratulations on making the move to EMV compliance. Hopefully now you can see that it was the right decision with many benefits that go beyond reducing fraud (although that’s a good enough reason alone). More customer loyalty, increased opportunities for engagement and a move towards a more innovative store can be just the beginning of your retail transformation.