Choosing a Loyalty Program: Why Customer Loyalty Matters for C-Stores


As convenience stores become more data-driven, the challenge of understanding and influencing customer behavior has been the toughest to crack: from the pump to the carwash, to the convenience store, it becomes imperative to weave a common thread between many discrete transactions that happen within the same property. For this reason, most loyalty programs fail when it comes to driving real value for c-stores.

Thanx closes the data loop for convenience stores, seamlessly linking cross-property transactions and making it easy for c-store operators to track and influence customer behavior. Read on for a few key takeaways from one of our convenience store merchants on why they selected Thanx as their loyalty provider.

How C-Stores Should Evaluate Loyalty Programs

Convenience store operators understand the value of customer retention (25% of customers make up about 70% of revenue!); however, until recently, loyalty technology hasn’t caught up with the unique needs of convenience stores.  From tracking customer transactions at multiple attachment points to increase their spend in-store, a great convenience store loyalty program needs to check several boxes that don’t necessarily exist in other industries.

The challenge is: how can convenience stores learn who their customers are and incentivize them to increase spending across profit centers… all without discounting the brand at large? Additionally, how can they tie feedback to specific transactions and track customer satisfaction across all of their locations?

Walking through the thought process of one of our convenience store merchants, here’s how to think about loyalty programs if you’re looking into implementing one at your properties:

1. How can you gather better customer data?

Convenience stores are often looking for loyalty solutions because they want more visibility as to who their customers are and how they’re behaving — specifically, they want to understand how their customers are transacting across their multiple channels (gas, carwash, and store) and they want to use that data to drive more profitable behavior from their customers.

With the availability of new technology like Thanx, C-stores have access to that transaction data and real-time business intelligence. The ability to segment customers by habit and history, track store performance data, and deploy high-ROI campaigns are just a few of the ways in which convenience stores are using these insights to drive more business.

Thanx makes this possible by identifying each customer by their preferred method of payment, making it easy to link multiple different transactions to the same user. By linking directly with customers’ credit cards, customers don’t have to take extra steps to participate in your loyalty program, meaning there’s one less hurdle to collecting high-quality data. When customers can participate by paying as usual (no extra plastic cards, no scanning QR codes), the integrity of your data is preserved, and your business intelligence becomes that much stronger.

2. How can you drive increased attachment rate?

Getting your gas customers to come into your store is one of the best ways to create additional convenience store revenue. One of the best ways to drive increased attachment rates is to incentivize and reward customers that come in and make purchases. This is the basis for most loyalty programs, so the underlying psychology is unsurprising. However, as a convenience store looking to drive increased attachment rate from a separate entity (read: the gas pump), it’s necessary to be able to link transactions across all profit centers, and to detect the exact moment a transaction is happening so you can target customers while they’re still on the property.

The key to unlocking this immediate interaction is the ever-present mobile phone — c-stores need to be able to reach consumers on-the-go, and preferably before they leave your property. Imagine this case: as soon as a customer swipes their credit card to buy gas outside, they immediately receive a push notification on their phone that offers them 10% off at the convenience store. An important part of this type of program is the communication piece: being able to reach customers at the exact moment that could inspire additional spending behavior.

3. How can we generate more (and better quality) customer feedback?

Keeping with the theme of better data, c-stores are looking to more clearly understand how their properties are performing when it comes to customer satisfaction. Feedback, especially when you can tie that feedback to transactional data, becomes an incredibly powerful way to collect actionable intelligence on your businesses’ performance.

Collect data consistently by surveying customers via mobile phone after every transaction. Make it easy for customers to speak their minds – paper surveys and long questionnaires rarely result in the volume of feedback needed to answer questions like: How satisfied are your customers? Where is your operation thriving — or suffering?

When combined with loyalty and customer data, you can pinpoint feedback to individual customers and even respond to that feedback in order to keep your customers happy — maybe even offer a reward that they can redeem in-store to thank them for the feedback.