How C-Stores Can Fight Competition

C-Stores must proactively encourage customers to visit more often and spend more

Following are six best practices that can take your C-Store to the next level and keep your customers coming back.

  • Focus on getting your gas customers to come into your store

Getting your gas customers to come into your store is one of the best ways to drive additional convenience store revenue. One of the best ways to drive attach rates is to incentivize and reward customers that come in and make purchases. To do this, you will need to offer a loyalty program that tracks customer visits and spend. While this sounds like a Herculean effort for resource-starved stores, today’s loyalty programs are automated and require no integration or hardware. To begin, offer your gas customers an introductory reward, such as a free cup of coffee or a free soda, just for coming in and joining your customer loyalty program.


  • Invest spectacularly in catalyzing repeat visits from existing customers

Once you have gas customers visiting your store, you need to keep them coming back. Any customers that you already have are your best source of future revenue. It’s 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to drive an incremental visit from an existing customer. Reach out to customers immediately after they transact to incentivize the next visit.  A customer loyalty program works brilliantly in this situation, but only if it’s effortless for customers and provides clear value to them. When a customer is enrolled, each transaction brings them closer to a high-value incentive. Unlike traditional customer loyalty programs, like punch cards, modern loyalty programs can capture actionable customer data and serve as the central nervous system of your business.


  • Unlock insights from your customer data.

Unearth intelligence about your customers by capturing and using transaction data. Until recently, offline retailers haven’t had the tools to be strong in this area. However, with the availability of new technology, like Thanx, C-stores have access to 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 offline retailers are using these insights to drive more business.

  • Ditch impersonal email campaigns.

How can you put customer data in practice? Do away with the one-size-fits-all email campaign as a marketing strategy. While your competitors are sending “batch and blast” discount campaigns that don’t take the recipients’ past shopping experience into account, you can use your data to send powerful emails.

Segment customers in a way that allows you to craft personal, timely messages. Better yet, implement a solution that does this for you, and reaches out to customers at a time that’s delightful and useful for them (right after a purchase, for example), not just convenient for your marketing team. The result will be less discount-driven email campaigns and more customer engagement.


  • Focus mercilessly on delighting and retaining your VIP customers.

For retailers, the top 25% of your customers make up about 75% of your revenue. This means that those individuals must be identified and very deliberately retained to protect this revenue stream. How do you keep these customers out of the clutches of your competitors?

First, you must know exactly who these VIP customers are. If nothing else, this is one of the most valuable ways in which your data can start working for you immediately. By identifying these high-value customers, you’re now able to reach out to them and provide perks that other businesses cannot – introductions to new products or specials, accelerated rewards when they come purchase with you, and other perks.

  • Operationalize customer feedback

Customer feedback comprises a valuable piece of the data puzzle for offline brands. Guest experience isn’t just about giving patrons a warm and fuzzy feeling — it’s a litmus for the health of your brand and the performance of your stores. Soliciting 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. A great way to collect data consistently is 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.

To learn more, get our free guide,  How to Overcome the Customer Engagement Challenges of C-Stores.