Forecourt as Front Door

How to drive increased traffic to the store and get customers to buy more.

By
Steve Holtz, Online News Director & Beverage Editor

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Get Them to Buy

Once inside the store, retailers have to be blatant in promoting specials or combo deals. “People are making quick decisions,” Baboo said. “Either they have planned their purchase or … they are creatures of habit; they know just what they’re going to get.”

Retailers should study what products complement each other—such as a soda and a bag of chips—and consider appropriate merchandising adjacencies to drive more cross-purchases.

“Every trip tells a story, but if we look at every trip, we can get a better idea of what is happening at every departing every area of the store,” she said.“We can see: This is what people do, and we can capitalize on that to sell more products.”

VideoMining data shows 89% of consumers have been influenced by ac-store promotion. The most successful: buy one, get one free.

Meanwhile, Hawtin of KSS endorsed using predictive models to consider how various strategy changes might affect store sales.

“The trick to better managing our sites is to understand the interrelationship between all the categories,” Hawtin said. “Fuel is the main driver of traffic to the site, but it can also drive merchandise sales, work as a promotion device and drive loyalty.”

KSS collects data—some of it hard data, some of it observational—from the stores it serves, as well as from neighboring stores, local census information, consumer preferences and more. Putting it all together, the company is able to paint a picture of whom a retailer is serving and whom they maybe missing as a customer.

“This helps to understand the demand opportunity around your stores,” Hawtin said. It then can create “scenario models” that forecast what fuel, c-store, QSR and car-wash sales should be.

“We determine the winners and losers in your store,” he said. “These tools become the basis for why you make a change at a store or not. … We look at where there is demand in a market and then ask: How good are our sites at meeting that demand?”

Overall, meeting consumers’ needs means having what they need, but also letting them know you have it, and that it’s a value to the consumer.

Toward that end, Baboo said, “Traffic does not equal audience. We need to know who the audience is, when it’s peaking, and design content [and promotions] around that.”


Best of the Best

Promotional ideas that rose to the top during CSP’s “Forecourt: A Marketing Vehicle with Unlimited Potential” meeting:

  • Think of the forecourt and fuel as a category and how it can complement other store categories.
  • Make your stores’ best attributes part of your value equation. If foodservice is a hit, tie promotions in to other categories.
  • The best-performing coupons typically center on free gasoline.
  • The most-appreciated promotions are buy-one-get-one-free offers.
  • Anything “free” is an attention-getter.

Calculating the Opportunity

Store-traffic researcher Priya Baboo started out CSP’s “Forecourt: A Marketing Vehicle with Unlimited Potential” meeting by establishing that there is a $21-billion opportunity within the convenience store industry’s grasp if it can just convert more gasoline buyers into in-store purchasers. Here’s how she figured the amount: For every 100 customers who purchase gasoline, only 31 make a purchase inside the store—21 of them having paid for gasoline at the pump and 10 of them paying for gasoline inside the store.

According to Baboo, an average c-store selling gasoline has 277 fuel customers a day. If only 31% of them (86 customers) make an additional purchase inside the store, with an average transaction of $4.82, that leaves a loss of $920 per store per day in potential sales to the other 69%. Assuming there are 150,000 c-stores in the United States, that leaves about $21 billion per day for the entire industry.

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