August 25, 2023
Utilizing Customer Behavioral Trends in Shopping to Drive C-store Profits
As North American c-stores vie for consumer share among continuous industry shifts, foodservice proves an ever-increasing opportunity for elevated customer experiences and increased basket size. No matter where a particular chain or site might be in its journey toward adding pre-packaged and made-to-order options, achieving the seamless and complete forecourt-to-store interaction customers expect is critical for converting would-be fueling-only patrons into loyal shoppers. A little unconventional marketing and assistance from the newest in ordering and advertising technologies – designed with consumer behaviors in mind – can help speed up conversions and solidify a site’s success.
App Adoption Carries Upside for Convenience Retail
Understanding what customers expect when visiting the c-store is integral to encouraging sales and driving profit, and technology is key. Today, ordering food or drinks via an app is second nature to many people. There’s a certain appeal to instantly accessing a varied menu on your phone, making payment digitally (thanks to integration with payment systems such as PayPal and Apple Pay), and then receiving your order as soon as it’s ready. No waiting in line and no pressure of making a last-minute decision at the counter. It’s simple, it’s instant, it’s convenient and it works.
Recent research into consumer app shopping highlighted by CStore Decisions and conducted by Bounteus + NAG finds users are primed to make add-on purchases – 52% are likely or extremely likely to purchase candy, while about 44% choose alcohol or tobacco products. Apps don’t rely on complex store layouts to encourage add-on purchases; they make use of strategic ecommerce and advertising experience, as well as data gathered from past app usage, to increase the average order value. Upsell and cross-sell during the digital ordering process – also known as ‘suggestive selling’ – are an effective method of increasing order size and encouraging customers to trial new products or make use of current offers. There’s no need to rearrange the whole store when ads can be pushed instantly, thanks to simple back-end software.
The C-store’s Power is Unmatched Convenience
Tapping into the psyche of when people make food and drink purchases is also key in driving c-store sales. It will be of no surprise that food and drink sales peak at mealtimes. Research shows lunchtime is the most popular daypart for foodservice orders with 27% of survey respondents saying they actively prefer ordering from their local c-store (3 Keys to Growing C-Store Foodservice - CStore Decisions).
What the Bounteous + NAG data also shows is that 47% of specialty coffee app users purchase breakfast with their order, showing strong upside potential for morning daypart breakfast add-ons. If commuters are refueling both their vehicle – and themselves – in the morning, then fuel retailers have a huge opportunity to drive food sales by building out their offerings. One daypart that might remain largely untapped is the dinner crowd. In September of 2021, CStore Decisions reported data from GasBuddy showing for an overwhelming majority of states across the U.S. the most popular hour for fueling up is between 4-5pm (Study: Evening fill-ups Most Common for US Drivers).
Variety is where convenience stores can outshine their restaurant counterparts to bring in increased footfall and drive greater in-store purchases. Where else can customers order and pay for food and drink, gas up, get a car wash and even buy a cold beer, all in one stop? Convenience is instrumental in influencing purchase decisions and digitization is only serving to intensify this. Leveraging forecourt and c-store footprints combined with foodservice helps create a hub customers choose; the place they prefer over other options. Why go elsewhere when one easily accessible site can provide it all?
Turn Fueling Customers into Regular C-store Patrons
Modern fuel dispensers now make use of media at the pump, but it is (DFS) that is offering its own built-in at-dispenser ordering solution in partnership with GRUBBRR®, a cutting-edge provider of self-ordering technology. Together, we have released DX Market™ powered by GRUBBRR® for DFS Anthem UX® platform on the Wayne Ovation® fuel dispenser.
Time spent refueling can often be seen as wasted for the customer, and getting them to walk the extra distance into the c-store where profit margins are much higher can be a challenge. Break down the barrier of the extra thirty feet and optimize those precious minutes at the pump by delivering foodservice and SKU options to them where they stand. While modern fuel dispensers now make use of media at the pump, the next ‘next-level’ for fueling customers is now at-dispenser ordering.
Dover Fueling Solutions® (DFS) in partnership with GRUBBRR® – a cutting edge provider of self-ordering technology – is taking c-store shopping further by integrating ordering capabilities at the dispenser itself. DX Market™ powered by GRUBBRR® has the potential to further increase conversions by enabling ordering at the pump - reducing the lag between seeing an ad and making a purchase, decreasing a customer’s wait time, and therefore increasing the likelihood of add-on food purchases and a visit into the store or through the drive-through.
Understanding customer behavior is integral to driving c-store sales. Investing in the right hardware, software and solutions that embrace consumer behavioral trends can ensure maximized sales potential and drive your business forward.