Most c-stores use customer data to encourage participation in their loyalty programs.

Convenience store loyalty programs have come a long way in the last decade, from the use of paper punch cards to the ubiquity of mobile apps today. But the essence of driving customer loyalty is the same — creating an enduring connection between the consumer and the c-store. And one of the biggest advantages of a loyalty programs today rests on technology, and its ability to create efficiencies for c-store operators and generate valuable customer data.

Many c-stores already utilize technology for essential business intelligence, with 72 percent of operators collecting customer data, according to the 2019 C-Store Shopper Report. The report also found that more than half of c-store operators (53 percent) use customer data to encourage participation in their loyalty programs. What if, in addition to fostering engagement with program members, operators could use customer data to identify potential customers with similar qualities as their existing ones? The report shows that only 25 percent of operators currently do this. There’s clearly a great opportunity for c-stores that have not yet leveraged customer data this way.

Key Marketing Technology Takeaways

Let’s explore how the marketing technology and the value of data in loyalty marketing can help boost the results of your c-store’s loyalty program.

Use customer data to adapt to consumer behavior.

Convenience retailers ranked their inability to adapt to behaviors of loyalty program members as one of their most serious external challenges. They thought their members’ needs and wants changed too quickly for their programs to keep up. This is where a unified marketing platform with features built specifically for c-stores can make all the difference.

The right analytics and reporting capabilities can help you understand customers better to personalize your messaging and tailor promotions to what customers want. For example, since the majority of c-store shoppers (59 percent) joined loyalty programs primarily to earn rewards on everyday purchases, you could design your offers and rewards around core items that will get consumers from the forecourt into the store.

Agility is key to keeping up with innovation and the competition.

When asked to rank their external challenges, convenience retailers considered “keeping up with new technology and the pace of change” as their second biggest external challenge. “Competitors are innovating faster than we are” was ranked number four. In both cases, it’s best to be agile.

In software development, the Agile method calls for the release of software updates frequently but in small increments to get user feedback immediately. You can apply this best practice to any concern about innovation, technology and the competition. Introduce your loyalty program (or any changes to it) sooner than later, then adjust the offers, earning opportunities and functionality based on customer feedback and performance data. An Agile approach will also help you keep an eye on the competition’s loyalty innovations and be more proactive.

Use data-driven insights to improve engagement with loyalty members.

Many shoppers (52 percent) expressed their preference for using a mobile app to track and redeem their rewards. C-store operators appear to be on track because developing a mobile app was their number two priority in terms of marketing strategies, right below improving in-store experience.

The C-Store Shopper report shows a high level of loyalty engagement, with 66 percent of customers using their loyalty programs at least once a week. Knowing this, you should take advantage of the weekly contact to offer relevant promotions. Let customer data inform your point-of-sale (POS) messaging and personalize communications you send directly to individuals with offers on items they buy frequently.

Technology Empowers You

The introduction of loyalty marketing technology that allows convenience retailers to communicate with consumers through email, text, mobile app and social media have changed the loyalty landscape for the better. Technology tools that let you gain data-driven insights into customer behavior takes you a step further in accomplishing your goal of fostering repeat business and increasing sales. This is the kind of empowerment technology delivers best. Make sure your c-store is taking full advantage of it.

Did You Know: Your Source for PDI News provided by PDI the leader in enterprise management software for the convenience retail and petroleum wholesale markets.