onvenience stores have become one of the great American institutions providing travelers with anything they need on the road, and neighborhoods with a quick solution for food and various supplies without going to larger stores. In the United States, consumers have 3.8 billion memberships to loyalty programs and c-stores are part of that number. Over 43% of consumers report that they shop at convenience stores because they belong to their loyalty rewards programs and 51% say they shop there more often because of that program.
So, how can a c-store take advantage of the popularity of loyalty rewards programs?
Consumers like for everything to be easily accessible and all in one place. So, it makes sense to have an app on the phone consumers are consistently using throughout the day. Once the consumer has the app, they need to see its value, or they will delete it for something just as simple as needing more storage space on their phones.
Once the app is installed, it becomes the job of the store to continue interacting with the consumer through the app. Specialized deals, advertisements, and free offers must be a continual process to keep the consumer interested in what the company has to say.
In a recent study, 87% of consumers reported that they did not mind having their personal shopping preferences tracked if it was used to personalize their shopping experience. Convenience stores may be at a disadvantage with loyalty rewards programs that simply reward customers with the frequency of their visits.
The trend of consumers wanting personalized shopping experiences is an advantage to the c-stores because they can use the rewards programs to make connections with their customers. They can offer advertisements to the consumers on items they buy most often. They can provide points based on certain products.
Loyalty rewards programs are only useful to consumers and c-stores if they are utilized. Consumers want quick and easy. If a loyalty program can only be accessed by visiting a website to sign up or a consumer has to seek out a loyalty program on their own, they are more likely not to use it. Consumers are more likely to sign up for a rewards program if it is a seamless process that can be done in one application.
Some businesses ask consumers, through digital means, if they are reward participants at check out. If consumers are not, they are offered a link or text that takes them immediately to where they need to be to sign up and give the consumers rewards immediately. Others offer a scannable QR code that does the same thing as a quick text. Over 48% of consumers want notifications of offers in rewards programs to come via text messages.
It costs five times as much to gain a new customer as it does to keep an existing customer. Studies show that 50% of existing customers are more likely to buy a new product and 31% of existing customers spend more money on purchases than new customers. When customers receive and utilize effective loyalty programs, the c-store will spend less on traditional advertising campaigns and spend more money and time in building trusted relationships with existing customers which is what customers want and what truly benefits the store.
When existing customers are happy with a company, they tell their people. More than 83% of consumers make purchases based on word of mouth from a trusted family member or friend. When existing customers feel that the rewards program truly speaks to their individual purchases, saves them money, and offers incentives that keep them coming back, they want their friends and family to be a part of that too. With less advertising, a c-store can generate more new customers that will then become frequent buyers.
As an owner of a c-store, it is vital to know the shopping habits of the surrounding customer base. When utilizing a successful loyalty rewards program, the c-store gets valuable insight into what products and brands need to be stocked and featured, what incentives are important to the customer base, and how much inventory to have at particular times of the year.
While the loyalty rewards programs help consumers save money, they also help the c-store save money because they do not have to waste precious shelving space stocking products that are not purchased often or losing items to freshness dates due to declining demand from the customers.
Effective loyalty rewards programs are easy to promote due to technology. Social media is a fantastic way to promote a loyalty program. Create a seamless process in which the store can promote the program while giving away prizes as well as creating a need for the person on social media to sign up to receive the prize. Some of the promotions can be:
Consumers want to know they are wanted and valuable to a company or business. It is the modern-day equivalent of a local grocery store knowing their name when they walk in the door. Consumers want to have ease and be supplied with incentives that mean something to the way they shop and the items and brands they buy. Customer loyalty rewards programs are the new coupons and are a terrific way for a c-store to gain a loyal customer base, attract new customers to the store or chain, and gain real-time data they can utilize to improve their inventory and bottom line.