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    Why C-stores Should Have a Mobile App

    The customer-friendly technology can drive more sales.

    By Chris Francis, Worldpay US

    About 77 percent of Americans were expected to hit the road by the end of summer 2016, according to a study by WalletHub. And with an increase in travel comes an increase in foot traffic — and perhaps sales — at gas stations, convenience stores, and other pit stops along the way.

    For convenience stores, the name says it all — customers want to buy what they need as quickly and conveniently as possible and get on with their day. One way to add flexibility to the customer experience is by integrating mobile capabilities. Mobile devices save customers the trouble of digging through their wallets or luggage for cash and credit cards, and present the opportunity for you, the retailer, to offer a more personalized, compelling customer experience.

    Road-trip season might be winding down, but this added convenience will make customers more likely to keep your store in mind when they travel throughout the year. The following are some key ways mobile can drive more business to your convenience store.

    GEOLOCATION PERKS

    Geolocation tracking can be used to market to customers in a specific location. It can be particularly helpful when targeting road-trip customers who might not be familiar with their surroundings.

    If customers are within a set radius from your store, you can tap into their mobile devices to send them information and drive business. For example, if a customer has an app for a convenience store such as 7-Eleven and is within 10 miles of the closest 7-Eleven, the customer will receive a push notification with the latest promotions.

    If your app also tracks previous purchases, you can use the push notification to suggest the customer stop in for his or her favorite fountain drink to stay energized while on the road.

    A social component can also be added to mobile apps using geolocation. For example, 7-Eleven can track when a user has checked into a location nearby and send push notifications letting them know a 7-Eleven is just down the road from where they are.

    ON-SITE PROMOTIONS

    Using mobile apps, gas stations and convenience stores can list the current promotions, such as discounted car washes, that are available at each location. On-site maintenance promotions also enable convenience stores to capitalize on customers who might not have otherwise made a purchase.

    For example, a customer might be waiting for a car wash and decide to browse in your convenience store to pass the time. This can in turn increase the likelihood of the customer buying a drink or snack while they wait, leading to a potential increase in sales.

    PAYMENTS AT THE PUMP

    If your convenience store is connected to a gas station, you can make the customer experience easier for those who want to quickly get back on the road by accepting mobile payment options at the pump. This can be done by adding a mobile payment option to your store’s app or simply accepting common mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay and Android Pay.

    According to the Worldpay Global Payments Report, mobile wallets are projected to be the most popular payment method of the future, accounting for an estimated $647 billion in sales by 2019. Mobile wallets are also expected to overtake credit card use by an estimated 3 percent by 2019, largely due to such factors as convenience, security, personalization and loyalty.

    YOUR NEXT STEPS

    Implementing these mobile features might be easier said than done, especially for convenience stores not already offering their own mobile app.

    Before taking the leap, there are a number of factors convenience store owners should consider. If your store already has an app, reassess it to make sure it has a clean design that fosters speed and usability. The last thing customers want is a complicated app when they’re at a convenience store. Also, take stock of the features your customers use most and ask for their feedback on how the app can be improved. Soliciting and applying customer feedback can eventually lead to higher satisfaction rates and increased sales.

    On the other hand, if your convenience store doesn’t already have a mobile app, consider your audience before working with an app developer to create and launch an app. You might even want to survey customers to find out which types of mobile wallets and mobile devices they’re using, as well as which features they value most so you can better determine how to make mobile payments a reality at your convenience store.

    Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

    By Chris Francis, Worldpay US
    • About Chris Francis Chris Francis is vice president of market development at Worldpay US, a global payments technology provider for any platform — in-store, online and mobile.

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