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Convenience Store Owners—At the Pump Promotion to Keep Profits Flowing

November 5, 2018  - C-store & Gas Stations
image of man with gas pump and dollar sign coming out of pump nozzle

Since margins on fuel sales can be small, it's vital that c-store operators get those customers to go in-store to make purchases. Programs to convert gas-only customers into gas-plus customers can be as simple as increased signage at the pump. Bright LED lighting makes a business stand out and appear safer, which can entice consumers to pull into your store over other options.

image of gas pumps outside of convenience store at night

In the media-saturated world, people expect visual and verbal stimulation throughout their day, and c-stores are following suit. Retailers are installing media stations at the pump to entertain, inform, and engage consumers in their purchasing decisions and, most importantly, get them inside the store. Studies show that consumers who visit gas stations or road-based convenience stores are doing so primarily to get gasoline. C-stores have an opportunity to tailor media station messaging at the pump to cross-promote food and beverage items before a customer enters the store. Naturally, appealing to customer buying behavior is paramount to making cross-merchandising and promotions effective. The key is to identify consumer preferences and tailor offers to individual buying patterns.

Common Pump Advertising Tactics

  • Discount gasoline: Some retailers are offering a discount on fuel that increases based on the number of gallons purchased to motivate consumers to fill up their tank.
  • Offer combo purchase discounts: If a customer is purchasing coffee each day, it would not make sense to discount the coffee. Instead, discount a complimentary item, such as a breakfast sandwich or a bakery item to motivate the consumer to make the additional discounted purchase.
  • Promote high-frequency products: Owner/operators can increase the number of visits by providing high-frequency products that customers need beyond fuel. Coffee, ATMs, lunch and breakfast are all diversified offerings that make a location attractive to consumers.
  • Communicate: Communication is also important for motivating in store visits. Leverage in-pump screens, fuel-station speakers, and receipts to communicate product availability and promotions to motivate in store visits and increase purchases.
  • Focus on quality: The key to increasing frequency is delivering quality, convenience, and reliability that will get customers to come back in between fill-ups. If a location can deliver quality and value around desirable high-frequency products, there may be tremendous opportunities to increase purchase amounts and frequency through timely and relevant data-driven promotion. Emphasize the quality of food and bakery items or that items are locally sourced.
  • Cross-promote: Consider cross-promoting a bakery message with destination categories to make it more influential. During breakfast hours, bakery items could be bundled with coffee for a combo price. During mid-evening, promote it with a fountain drink or smoothie.
  • Showcase your brand: Display brand messaging in a location where it gains maximum traction. A gas pump topper harnesses the power of effective advertising to represent your brand through eye-catching visuals that reach a wide audience. Fuel pump ads sit at eye-level on top of the pump, which is an area usually viewed several times during the refueling process.
  • Put your brand in consumer's hands: Gas nozzle advertising allows you to literally place your brand message directly into consumers' hands as they refuel their vehicles. Attract attention and engage audiences using powerful messaging that resonates. This type of advertising lets you convey a strong message to daily commuters in a high traffic hub that gets multiple and repeated impressions.
image of gas pump nozzle with money flowing out of it

Cumberland Farms and Costco are Americans' favorite fueling stations, according to a new study by Market Force Information. Over 11,500 consumers participated in the annual study, which ranks gas stations in two categories: 1) Traditional gas stations and convenience stores, 2) Grocery stores and big-box retailers with fuel pumps. The study also includes trends in food purchases, customer loyalty and technology. Note that statistics and demographics vary by store, brand, and location. Many businesses mistakenly rely on industry-wide statistics that don't apply accurately to their own locations.

It's no surprise that fuel price continues to be the most important factor for drivers deciding where to fill their tanks. Good lighting is also a strong consideration, and LED lighting can save money in utility costs. Payment options, gas quality, and the ease of getting in and out of a location are also key considerations. See the results in the graph below.

Most Critical Factors in Deciding Where to Fill-Up

graph from Market Force Information on reasons why consumers select gas stations

Source: Market Force Information

When you utilize fuel pump advertising, the audience comes to you, allowing your product or service to be widely viewed by everyone who stops by to refuel. Engage consumers in undistracted moments as they go through their daily routines. Reach on-the-go consumers directly before they make purchases.

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