An inviting forecourt, clean restrooms and good customer service help draw fuel customers inside, GasBuddy survey finds
By NACS Online // March 28, 2019
BOSTON, Mass. – Convenience retailers generate nearly three-fourths of gross profit dollars from in-store sales, according to GasBuddy, a tech company featuring apps and websites that provide real-time fuel prices at more than 140,000 gas stations in the United States, Canada and Australia. Unfortunately, the company reports, a similar percentage of fuel customers never come through the store’s door, and this is a core challenge facing the industry today.
A GasBuddy survey conducted in July and December 2018 finds that whether gas customers go inside the store hinges on consumers’ needs for safety, cleanliness and hospitality, as well as their response to certain promotions and strategies. In fact, 83% of frequent c-store customers form their opinions of the operation based on the overall design and upkeep of the store.
Survey respondents said that the forecourt makes a big first impression. If gas customers think a store is dirty, boring or unexceptional, they’re unlikely to go inside. GasBuddy concluded that retailers must prioritize the basics first before addressing other customer needs.
Reputation also is important. What customers say in online reviews and the stories they share with friends have a major impact on brand perception. By providing first-class customer service and monitoring customer feedback, retailers can boost their store’s reputation and drive sales.
Clean restrooms bring customers inside, and that may be the only opportunity to connect with a fuel-only patron. Shoppers who use a c-store’s restroom will frequently (22.6%) or occasionally (56.8%) make an in-store purchase. Outdated, dirty or poorly maintained facilities cast doubt upon every other aspect of the operation – especially foodservice.
If your restroom is clean and inviting, let customers know. Most female customers (75%) surveyed said their decision to visit a store would be influenced if retailers promoted restroom cleanliness.
Pumping fuel is a time when 73% of consumers ages 18 to 34 take a moment to check their phones. According to survey respondents, mobile phone ads would influence them to visit a c-store if those ads promoted healthy food options (69.7% for women vs. 56.9% for men), redeemable coupons for store products (81.3% for women vs. 72.5% for men) or loyalty rewards for store products (81.4% for women vs. 73.8% for men).