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Among the many retail changes that the pandemic has spawned, increased c-store sales volume is a positive one for operators. Some may look at this as a once-in-a-generation windfall. But, without a way to stay connected to those new customers, many operators will be leaving years of potential revenue on the table. Loyalty programs are intended to drive increased and ongoing purchases. And they work. According to PDI’s 2020 The Road to Rewards Report, 63% of consumers surveyed said they belonged to a c-store loyalty program, with 60% of all loyalty members saying they would shop more frequently at stores where they could earn rewards. At the same time, the report found that only 64% of c-store retailers have a loyalty program in place. If you’re one of the 36% who are still without such a program, here’s some guidance on how to set one up, maintain it, and gain all the benefits these programs offer. Customers Value Value Per the report, over half (51%) of loyalty members surveyed said they would switch brands or shop at a different store if they could earn more valuable rewards. That number was even higher for fuel savings members (54%). These shoppers are definitely looking for value. But “value” doesn’t necessarily mean discounting. Alerts about special promotions and bundles, or special recognition at check-out make for a more satisfying shopping experience. High-value loyalty programs feature smooth, efficient transactions at the pump and inside the store as a benefit for their members. Testing and learning customer preferences can yield increasingly higher returns—which brings us to the data. Dissecting the Data While increased sales and profits are always welcome, the greatest return on a loyalty program investment is the customer data it generates. According to the Shopper Report, 81% of retailers said they plan to use the data gathered from their loyalty program to power their offers, advertising, or promotions efforts. And 37% of US operators said they were using or planned to use loyalty member data to develop cross-brand insights and selling opportunities. In order to seize those opportunities, you’ll want to have a POS data capture and analytics system that can integrate with customer/member accounts. These types of systems have become table stakes for groceries. Similar systems for c-stores can actually be even more sophisticated, leveraging time of day and item data to provide carefully targeted loyalty rewards. When integrated with marketing platforms,…

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