Consumers love convenience stores. By serving up many different products and services in a one-stop-shop environment—gas, drinks, packaged foods, grab-and-go meals, lottery tickets, propane and more—these establishments brought in a record $705.7 billion in sales in 2021. Broken down, that number includes $277.9 billion of in-store sales and $427.8 billion in fuel sales for that 12-month period.
Convenience stores that sell about 80% of the fuel purchased in the U.S. have been challenged as rising fuel costs reduce foot traffic in their locations. Consumers are spending more time researching low prices and are going out of their way to take advantage of those deals. They are turning to mobile apps to find the cheapest gas and are opting in to SMS programs to receive just a few cents off per gallon.
Convenience stores are looking to boost revenue despite high gas prices and come up with creative customer acquisition and retention strategies. With 3.2 billion people worldwide currently using messaging apps, mobile messaging gives convenience stores a powerful sales and communication channel.
“Since they have little new to offer customers, loyalty programs and customer engagement practices are getting the most attention,” VentureBeat points out in Mobile technology rides in to save convenience stores. “Robust mobile strategies are now a must-have, and cover everything from marketing and social media to loyalty programs, ordering and payment.”
Increase Loyalty at Convenience Stores with SMS and Mobile Wallet
Text messaging enables consumers to receive timely rewards, promotional texts and transactional information, while Mobile Wallet allows them to easily scan an offer or their digital loyalty card at the register. Convenience stores can utilize these interactions and more to collect zero party data and use it to send more targeted text messages and product recommendations. This helps enhance the customer experience and keeps them coming back for more despite external factors like rising gas prices.
5 Mobile Messaging Strategies
Here are 5 mobile messaging strategies that will instantaneously increase convenience and transform your customer experience.
1. Acquire SMS subscribers at the pump with clear CTAs and incentives.
Convenience stores can offer customers five cents off per gallon or a coupon for in-store use, if they opt in to text messages. Simply display the SMS keyword and short code for easy signup. Once subscribed to the fuel rewards program, the customer types in his or her phone number at the pump to get the discount. Having a frictionless way for customers to join an SMS program, like this, is crucial since 54% of consumers demand SMS marketing.
2. Send personalized Mobile Wallet offers and coupons via SMS.
Thanks to Mobile Wallet offers, you can always keep your customers up to date on the latest promotions, flash sales, and limited-time offers based on their purchase history, deepening their brand loyalty and motivating them to step away from the pump to shop in-store.
3. Deliver interactive experiences with SMS, MMS, and Mobile Wallet.
From eye-catching MMS messages that prompt a reply, to strategically asked questions, you can learn a lot about your customers when you inspire them to take action. Reveal experiences, such as tap-to-reveal or spin-to-win, allow consumers to participate in an interactive experience before receiving a mobile wallet offer, which can easily be added to their phones and redeemed in-store or online.
4. Send timely text messages with valuable information.
Once shoppers compliantly opt-in to receive texts from your c-store, you then have an ongoing communication channel through SMS and MMS. When a new product arrives, you can use a text message to announce the news and even share a photo or short video so they can see what it looks like. Or, if there’s a limited-time hot food item being served that day, sending a timely text message right when they start getting hungry can can help get them in the door.
For customers who take advantage of buying products online and picking them up at a physical location, they want convenience and speed. By opting for this fulfillment option, they are aiming to save time by eliminating delivery wait times and expect to save time during the pickup process. SMS can streamline curbside pickups and order fulfillments by:
- Delivering Mobile Wallet pickup passes that store customers’ order and pickup information
- Identifying customer arrivals based on their unique description
- Securely serving store-side customers without building complex integrations
- Turning stores into a high-functioning distribution center
5. Place push notifications front and center.
Automated push notifications inform users about upcoming deals and events by placing the information front and center in a banner on a phone’s lock screen or notification center. Geofencing and location-based marketing can be used in combination with push notifications to connect with customers at gas pumps, alerting them to deals happening inside.
How Kwik Trip’s Unified Mobile Strategy Increased Foot Traffic
With its 650 convenience stores, Kwik Trip knows that maintaining a competitive edge in the marketplace means being able to cut through the noise and use mobile experiences to drive excitement and engagement. According to David Jackson, Digital Marketing and Loyalty Manager, Kwik Trip kicked off its SMS program about six years ago. The company quickly saw that mobile messaging generated more foot traffic than its email and social marketing campaigns were producing.
“Using SMS, we were able to create instant reactions to our messaging and communications and drive really big traffic to our stores or our website based on that content,” said Jackson. “Since then, we've moved forward with mobile because of all the successes that we've seen with our SMS program.”
With the introduction of the Kwik Rewards program, the company opened up even more channels and started using push messaging, mobile wallets and a mobile app. “We knew from our SMS program that the more subscribers you have, the bigger the channel you're going to be able to communicate with,” said Jackson. “By introducing our mobile app and push messaging, we knew that being able to communicate with our customers on different channels would be huge.”
The company, which also wanted to promote its products, drive sales and get a return on its investment, uses a multi-pronged enrollment approach. Guests sign up either in-store or at the pump and receive exclusive offers, while others are enticed to sign up through limited eligibility offers. It uses both SMS and MMS messaging, the latter of which allows stores to “say it through a picture” versus just words, said Jackson.
When it introduced a new cold brew product recently, the company used pictures to show customers which cups to use for that new drink. “People like to know what that product looks like. And if it looks good, it's going to sell—especially from a food or drink standpoint,” said Jackson. “We had 88% redemption from that cold brew MMS message.”
The Bottom Line
If your sales and foot traffic has been crimped by rising fuel costs, you’re not alone. The good news is, 62% of U.S. mobile consumers have shopped in-store more after opting into a mobile loyalty program. As they seek out more convenience, loyalty perks and one-stop-shopping experiences, consumers will also be expecting more digital experiences and interactions.
So what are you waiting for? Contact our sales team to learn more about how you can use the power of the mobile to stand out from the crowd.