NATIONAL REPORT — As the use of smartphones becomes more and more ingrained in consumers' lives, convenience store retailers face the challenge of grabbing, and keeping, their attention in a crowded field of mobile apps.
In a recent Convenience Store News webinar entitled "How to Make Your Mobile App Stand Out in the Crowd", Ryan DiLello, a content specialist with Paytronix Systems Inc., noted that the c-store scene of today can be boiled down to three "Cs": COVID-19, competition and convenience.
While the mobile ordering and delivery business was expanding prior to the arrival of the COVID-19 virus, the pandemic "has only had a catalyzing effect," according to DiLello. Consumers want the convenience and safety of a mobile app.
As such, the field of mobile apps keeps growing and competition within the convenience channel is heating up, moving from other convenience stores down the block to now big-name retailers such as Amazon.
The average person checks their phone 157 times a day, DiLello cited. Building up a presence among consumers' multiple screens is a must for retailers these days. To be successful, a mobile app needs to be user friendly, adaptable to all formats, and easy to find.
Along with ordering and delivery capabilities, another integral part of any mobile app is a loyalty program. A study conducted by Paytronix in collaboration with PYMNTS found that loyalty program mobile app users typically spend 10 percent to 20 percent more a month, and visit 20 percent to 30 percent more frequently a month.
"Not only is a loyalty program an easy way to drive more customer engagement and revenue, it is also — as we are finding — an increasingly demanded service from a smartphone app," DiLello said.
But there is no one cookie-cutter approach to loyalty programs. "The best loyalty program is one that fits and accentuates the edge your business has over the competition and does well to serve what you want to deliver to your customers and what they care about," he explained.
C-store retailers also need to remember that any messaging through their app needs to follow the three "Rs": relevant, retention and revenue. Relevant messages lead to retention, which ultimately leads to an increase in revenue.
In-app payments should also play a role in any mobile app. "U.S. smartphone ownership is at 72 percent and that's significant because it shows this is growing to be an adoptable form of payment," DiLello pointed out, adding that in-app payments "strike a nice intersection between recent safety accommodations and the growing desire for speedier transactions."
Shifting to delivery, DiLello called out the four "Ps": products, price, place and promotions.
Products: Do you want to offer a full or limited menu? Consider age-restricted limitations, food safety, and preparation.
Price: Think through the various aspects of costs and handling of delivery, such as in-house vs. third-party services.
Place: Establish an area within the store to pick up orders. Control foot traffic with signage.
Promotions: The aim of the game is to get your customers to your app.
An on-demand replay of "How to Make Your Mobile App Stand Out in the Crowd" is available here.