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October 3, 2023

Consumer Experience at the Pump: The Future of Fueling

Retaining frequent fuelers and winning new customers are on every fuel and convenience retailer’s list of priorities. As consumers demand faster, more seamless and more personalized retail experiences — especially younger consumers — fuel station and c-store owners will have to keep pace to remain competitive.

In a recent report, Dover Fueling Solutions® (DFS) surveyed 1,003 consumers to better understand what they’re looking for from their fueling experiences. Understanding consumer behavior and expectations is critical to the success of fuel and convenience retailing, so we set out to answer questions like: Does the quality of a consumer’s experience matter when they’re choosing a place to fuel up? What kinds of technology or services at the pump do consumers truly appreciate? And which do they ignore?

Here are some of the top takeaways from our second annual Future of Fueling report that retailers can leverage.

Consumer Experience at the Pump: The Future of Fueling

Half of consumers would switch gas stations for a better experience

It will come as no surprise to most station owners that consumers prioritize fuel price and location most when choosing where to refuel. But, when asked how much their experience plays a role in the decision, many consumers had strong opinions. DFS found that 50% of consumers are likely to switch fuel stations if a competitor offers a significantly enhanced experience. Among millennial consumers, this number increases to 60%.

For retailers, these findings spotlight the importance of delivering exceptional customer experiences to retain and grow market share.

Ads at the pump are catching the attention of younger consumers, driving c-store foot traffic

Advertising and media at fuel dispensers have become increasingly common and more technologically advanced. How do gas station customers view them? DFS polled the perspectives and experiences of consumers, finding more than half (51%) notice ads on or around a fuel pump. Nearly one-third (32%) of consumers said fuel pump commercials and ads have convinced them to enter a convenience store. And that number jumps to 46% among Gen Z and millennial consumers.

Consumers are paying attention, and fuel station owners can capture and hold it even more by balancing advertising and entertainment or information, like weather and traffic reports.

Consumer Experience at the Pump: The Future of Fueling

Consumers predict a faster, more productive future of fueling

DFS asked respondents to make their own “future fueling predictions” by envisioning how technology or innovation might one day improve their experience. Common themes arose across consumers’ predictions, including improving productivity at the pump, speed, ease and accessibility — all of which retailers should evaluate in their customer journeys.

Productivity — Many consumers view the time they spend refueling as an opportunity to multitask, imagining technologies like on-demand TV, car maintenance “report cards,” and c-store ordering systems.

Speed — Consumers also see innovation potential in the speed of their gas station visits, with suggested improvements focused on quicker payments and faster-flowing fuel.

Ease — Many respondents envision greater convenience while refueling, such as having options for an email or text receipt, a more automated fueling process, and smart pumps that know their preferences without asking.

Accessibility — Some consumers believe technology can support gas station features that suit a wider variety of individuals, abilities and needs.

Consumer Experience at the Pump: The Future of Fueling

For more insights on consumer sentiment around the current and future state of gas stations and convenience stores, explore DFS’s full interactive report and research findings.

Read the full report at:

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