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EL DORADO, Ark. — Convenience store operators have long fought the difficult battle of finding ways to draw customers from the fuel pumps to inside their stores. But thanks to a new program called Play at the Pump from manufacturer Linq3, they no longer have to when it comes to lottery sales.
Another source of revenue is now in play at Murphy USA Inc. locations that does not require customers to set foot inside the c-store.
The program, which sells lottery tickets at the dispenser, has given Murphy USA a new way earn potential additional revenue from 1 million customers who previously drove away following a fill-up, Steve Desautels, category manager of nonfoods for the c-store retailer, told CSNews Online.
“At Murphy USA, we serve about 1.65 million customers per day at our fueling islands,” he said. “As an industry standard, 65 [percent] to 72 percent of all these customers never come inside the store. So that’s 1 million customers who never come into our locations.”
El Dorado-based Murphy USA implemented Play at the Pump at its first site on Feb. 3. Since then, the c-store operator has expanded it to 134 Murphy USA and Murphy Express locations.
Play at the Pump is currently approved in North Carolina, California, Missouri and Minnesota. Murphy USA has Play at the Pump available in all of these states except California, where it does not operate.
A fifth state, Pennsylvania, will be coming onboard in mid-October, with a half-dozen more states expected to approve lottery at the pump in the next quarter or so, according to Daniel Cage, CEO of Linq3. And he expects many more states to approve lottery sales at the dispenser in the future.
Thus far, Murphy USA has hit the proverbial jackpot with the new offering. “Among the three states [in which we have Play at the Pump], the lift provided at the pumps is about 4.5 percent of our overall lotto sales,” Desautels said. “Think of how big that is. Normally, you’d have to do all sorts of promotions and initiatives to grow your sales by 5 percent. We grew lottery sales by 4.5 percent simply by adding a new technology.”
In addition to higher sales, the Murphy USA executive noted that lines to purchase lottery tickets in-store can be long especially when lottery jackpots reach large potential payouts in excess of $100 million.
“It really can tie up our cashiers, who have to keep printing out tickets one after another. Play at the Pump gives you an additional lottery terminal at every pump. Also, every transaction completed at the pump requires no employee interaction. So there’s no payroll needed to do it. That’s a huge plus,” Desautels added.
Conversely, he pointed out that lotto enthusiasts are still coming into the store to buy their tickets, with very few opting for Play at the Pump. Hence, Murphy USA’s in-store sales have not suffered as a result of people no longer buying beverages or snacks along with their lottery purchase.
“Big lottery fans also have a lot of habits and superstitions,” said Desautels. “The people who always came inside to play their numbers continue to do so. The people who use Play at the Pump are often ‘ATM customers’ — people in a hurry who are willing to pay ATM fees just to avoid going to the bank. That’s the customer we are targeting.”
Linq3 doesn’t sell tickets for all games at the pump, so customers still have reasons to purchase lottery tickets in-store, said Cage. Play at the Pump currently allows consumers to play Quick Picks for PowerBall and MegaMillions in all four states. North Carolina also allows consumers to play Carolina Cash 5.
“More than half of the lottery tickets sold in-store are instant-win tickets,” Cage said. “We are not selling those.”
EASY TO PLAY…AND WIN
Play at the Pump is easy to both offer and use, Cage stressed. For c-store operators, it is difficult for single-line dispensers to offer the technology, but otherwise it mainly requires only point-of-sale updates.
On the customer end, no pre-registration is required for the program, nor do they need to download a mobile app. When a customer selects lotto numbers at the pump, they are printed out on a receipt. Linq3 also asks for a consumer’s cell phone number and sends a link to the number via text message.