Current and anticipated retail technologies are speeding up convenience-store checkout lines while providing additional bonuses.
Simplicity is at the center of a frictionless retail experience: The fewer barriers between your customer and what they want, the better.
But for many convenience-store operators, including those operating gas stations, “friction-free” poses challenges. Besides getting over the tech learning curve, it takes time and money for owners to install and maintain digital equipment across multiple locations.
So how can you create a consumer-centered experience without becoming tech gurus? Consider these up-to-the-minute strategies for reducing long lines, easing purchases at the pump, and creating happier, more loyal customers.
- Loyalty software programs can collect data on your customers’ purchases and incent them to shop more. With the rise of “big data” tools, you can use a loyalty program to collect more information than ever on customers’ shopping habits. For example, you can personalize marketing, messaging, and rewards based on an individual shopper’s buying patterns, including how often they buy gas and what they usually purchase.1 If a group of weekly ice-cream customers starts to wander, for example, your well-planned loyalty program can win them back with a special discount offer.
- Digital payments let shoppers pay with their smartphones in store and at the pump, avoiding the hassles of taking out cash or a debit/credit card. The shopper calls up their digital wallet or payment app so a point-of-sale device can scan their code.1 This purchase method is on the rise: payment-app sales reached $7.8 billion in 2012 and are forecasted to reach $175.4 billion in 2022.2 Find out more about how M&T can help merchants work more easily with customers using payment apps.
- Mobile take-out ordering lets customers order and pay for items via their smartphone for pickup so they can skip the line. Experts say that stores offering this option win increased customer loyalty and sales volume. Taco Bell, for example, sees the average order increase by 30% from apps vs. in-store orders.3 Sales via mobile ordering apps are expected to hit $38 billion in 2020.3
- Automated age-verification is a forthcoming technology that will be able to confirm that your customer is old enough for age-restricted products such as tobacco and alcohol. The systems will be able to store proof-of-age information on a data company’s remote database, allowing automatic age verification of the purchaser’s age during checkout. This simplified process can encourage customer loyalty.1
A well-chosen retail technology partner can manage the implementation of one or all of these tech solutions. Look for a vendor with specific expertise in convenience-store operations—and the scope to provide several integrated solutions. However, if you opt to go with multiple technology partners, request demonstrated proof of integration experience.
With so many options available for consumers, removing any hurdles that stand in between them and their purchases will help your convenience stores and gas stations compete with the most technologically advanced market newcomers. The above tech solutions are being implemented now—or will be soon—by owners and operators nationwide.1 To best compete in the current market, consider which of these technologies are the best fit for your locations.
Contact M&T Bank Merchant Services to help you find the payment technologies and services that work best for your business and its customers. Call 1-800-724-2240 or visit us online.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not designed or intended to provide financial, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice since such advice always requires consideration of individual circumstances. Please consult with the professionals of your choice to discuss your situation.