The oil and gas industry, or more specifically, the convenience store industry is an exciting industry to follow. The rapid shift from being a dimly lit place you avoided until seeing the dreaded low-fuel light after starting your car to the mega convenience stores of today — think Wawa or Sheetz — where you don’t mind stopping in for a made-to-order lunch or putting air in your tires. And it’s not just the mega-stores, all of the convenience stores of today are innovating their technology in attempts to secure a customer’s loyalty. They’re staying convenient, but also becoming helpful, friendly, safe, and even one might say — attractive.
One big driver of this movement in the convenience store industry is the technology behind the scenes facilitating better customer engagement and experiences — and loyalty programs are at center mass.
Convenience stores were severely impacted during the pandemic due to fuel prices plummeting and fewer people driving on the roads. Some convenience stores even reported 60-70% decreases in fuel sales. But with the bad, comes the good, as convenience stores are responding by investing in their loyalty programs and technology with the goal to create new loyalty incentives for customers to safely and efficiently fuel up and grab a snack or drink inside the convenience store.
Loyalty Programs are at the center of this investment because it’s now more important than ever to retain customers and deliver the best customer experiences, plus as loyalty programs have become described as the “carriers of data”, one could say, they are the feed to the technology’s appetite. A proper loyalty program encompasses many things, but two in particular are at focus in this piece: mobile payments and artificial intelligence. Both of these are not only enabling efficient and contactless customer experiences, but are also combating loyalty fraud.
As Comarch describes in their eBook, mobile payments are being used in three main categories: prepayment, post payment, and preordering. These are enabling not only fuel purchase, but in the case of preordering, they are going beyond the classic gas station experience by allowing the customer for example to place a coffee order or food order for curbside delivery while they’re pumping gas — now that’s convenience — plus its builds loyalty! Additionally, artificial intelligence is being used to predict behaviors to allow personalized offers and just as importantly, it is being used to detect and prevent loyalty fraud.
There is so much to discuss that we better stop here for now. If you want to read more in-depth on these topics, we recommend checking out Comarch’s 12 page eBook which dives into these loyalty and fuel trends with real examples and solutions for the everyday convenience retailer. It’s free to download and you can find it here.