Sales have been lackluster for lottery games customers can play while filling up their cars
By NACS Online
Last January, the North Carolina Education Lottery helped c-stores make it more convenient for customers to play Cash 5, Mega Millions and Powerball by adding an option to play the lottery at the pump, News & Observer reports. The cloud-based payment platform, Play at the Pump, let customers swipe their debit or credit card (plus a $1 transaction fee) while getting gas.
Developed by Linq3, Play at the Pump touted that it would interact with the 70% of customers who only get gas at convenience stores. “It’s about convenience and security,” said Matt Lovelle, chief operating officer for Linq3. “Families don’t have time to go in the store.”
But that added convenience hasn’t made Play at the Pump popular in North Carolina. Nearly two years later, 208 gas stations have the option, out of approximately 6,330 locations in the state. When the Powerball jackpot ballooned to a record $1.5 billion in January 2016, less than $150,000 in sales were made at Play at the Pump, compared to more than $86 million for regular tickets.
Part of the slowness in convenience store owners adapting to Play at the Pump is that lottery ticket sales bring customers inside the store. “The two lowest margin products in a convenience store are fuel and lottery tickets,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. “You want to be mindful of how you offer them, because they lead customers to other items.”
“It’s a decision that each retailer has to make,” said Gary Harris, executive director of North Carolina Petroleum and Convenience Marketers. “Outside sales give retailers a smaller percentage than indoor sales. That’s a disincentive.” For example, retailers receive a 3% commission per sale for Play at the Pump transactions, so they must consider what they are losing in terms of ancillary sales for in-store lottery dollars.
“We sell convenience,” Lenard said. “It’s about a customer coming to your store and not someone else’s. You’ve differentiated yourself, you’ve made yourself more convenient and you may have even taken pressure off of your gas price.”