Take a holistic approach to improving customer experience that includes investing in your employees and technology.

With the winter holidays quickly approaching, more customers could be relying on digital tools—from mobile apps to websites—to do their shopping. That’s especially true for convenience retailers, many of whom saw a change in customers’ purchase habits and preferred payment methods this year. To ensure that your business offers the highest level of customer service, here are three of the most effective ways you can streamline and enhance the digital experience you’re providing your customers.

Implement a loyalty program

Consumers expect a rewarding experience for their patronage – and meeting that expectation with a well-executed loyalty program is one of the most effective ways you can turn a one-time shopper into a loyal customer.

According to the 2020 C-Store Shopper Report, c-store loyalty members love earning rewards more than other loyalty program members. In fact, earning rewards or saving money motivates them to spend more than they originally planned (51 percent versus 46 percent of all loyalty members), shop more frequently at stores where they can earn rewards (63 percent versus 60 percent of all loyalty members), and interact with their most-used rewards program at least weekly (59 percent versus 54 percent of all loyalty members).

As you’re planning your program, keep this mind: these days, loyalty is largely digital. In particular, mobile is playing a more significant role in c-store loyalty, with 40 percent of c-store loyalty members saying they currently use their app to track and redeem rewards, compared to all loyalty members at 37 percent.

The Future of the Consumer Experience in Convenience Retail

Invest in mobile capabilities

The popularity of mobile payments has been on the rise in recent years, but this year’s COVID-19 pandemic kicked adoption into high gear as businesses and customers looked for safe alternatives to make purchases. In fact, Fortune Business Insights projects that the number of mobile payment transactions will reach $8.94 trillion by 2027.

Accepting a variety of popular payment methods makes the shopping process easier. For convenience retailers, including private label debit programs with mobile payment options is a great way to build loyalty with your customers and increase the convenience of checking out at your stores. Our recent report found that 39 percent of consumers use a loyalty program’s mobile app to pay for purchases. In fact, it’s the third most popular use behind redeeming and tracking rewards. Aside from making the shopping process easier and safer for on-site customers, mobile payments also enable services like order ahead for pickup or delivery, thereby increasing the availability of your store’s products to customers who can’t or won’t visit your establishment.

In addition, according to the 2020 McKinsey Global Payments Report, the pandemic has also accelerated the adoption of mobile banking. Shoppers enjoy this type of convenience as they can make purchases and organize their budget right from their smartphone without hidden costs – making time for a painless balance-tracking experience. In order to offer a high-quality digital commerce service for customers, your business should provide mobile compatibility for loyalty, shopping consumer engagement and purchasing.

Improve customer communication 

If you’re looking to improve customer experience, communication should be an integral part of your strategy. One of the best ways to communicate directly with your consumers is by maximizing your loyalty program’s capabilities. With the right tools, retailers can deliver messaging, content and offers that resonate with their loyalty program members and encourage engagement and action.

So, the platform you’re using to execute your communications plan should be able to deliver messages across several digital channels while also personalizing those messages. You’ll also need the ability to test and optimize both content (the messaging itself, as well as subject lines and creative design) and offers (discounts, point bonuses, etc.). These capabilities allow you to continuously improve communications and maximize the performance of your loyalty marketing initiatives as well as the value customers receive from your brand.

To sustain an enduring relationship nurtured by regular communication, you need to manage those different channels effectively and consistently without a lot of manual intervention. That requires automation, and a marketing platform is likely the best way to help you standardize and streamline your processes.

Check out our 2020 C-Store Shopper Report to see what a basic communications plan should entail.

Going through a digital transformation can be difficult for any business, and embracing digital commerce doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. Instead, take a holistic approach to improving the overall customer experience that includes investing in your employees and technology to create a better, more valuable shopping experience.

You can thrive in today’s digital economy. Contact us today to learn how we can help you transform your business.