Fuel sales bring in customers, but margins are razor-thin. For many convenience and gas operators, the real money is being made most often at the car wash or in-store with sales of soft drinks, confectionery, tobacco and take-out prepared foods. Getting customers from the forecourt to the backcourt cash desk is essential to business performance. Marketing at the dispenser helps create impulse purchase decisions operators can take to the bank.
“When your customers are fuelling at the forecourt, they are available for up to five minutes of media impressions,” says Tim Walker, principal of Soapy Brushy, a Toronto-based car wash consultancy that offers advice on marketing and media for car wash and fuel site operators.
Walker often advises operators to consider a pump topper to deliver key messaging about in-store specials, coming promotions, and store news.
"A pump topper is right at eye-level. Toppers are easy to see and hard to ignore. Over the course of fuelling, a customer reads the pump talker several times. This information helps trigger and cement impulse purchase decisions that can be maximized in-store with further messaging such as well-placed digital media screens."
Pump toppers are highly economical and use printed materials that fit into durable sleeves attached to dispensers. However, new technology is coming to the forefront with digital messaging that is timely and on point.
Dover Fueling Solutions (DFS) is piloting both DX Promote and Anthem UX in the Canadian market.
The DFS Anthem UX (user experience) platform on the Wayne Ovation fuel dispenser features a 27-inch colour touch display, loyalty abilities and marketing opportunities delivered by a Microsoft Azure cloud-based platform.
Launched in the fall of 2021, the Anthem UX system provides personalized experiences in content and targeted advertising, right at the dispenser. The innovative platform has multi-language capabilities that allow customers to interact with equipment in their language of choice. Returning customers are recognized and can be offered products based on their purchase history, purchase a wash or receive marketing and loyalty messages that drive in-store business. And, it accepts contactless payment options for gas purchases, including Apple Pay and other digital wallet tools to protect your customers and your business.
DX Promote was launched in July 2020 with the DFS Anthem UX user experience platform and is a core solution in the DFS DX connected solutions platform. DFS DX uses the latest generation of their iX Media and Media by DFS offerings for stations that want greater control over their customers’ in-dispenser media experience. By using DX Promote’s open infrastructure and integrating it with a subscription to DFS collaborator Shep Digital Solutions’ merchandising platform; fuel retailers can drive in-store traffic by using their sales data and predictive analytics to amplify promotional messaging. The automated scheduling and content distribution process makes it easy to manage content and tailor it to customers' needs.
According to Brian Nelson, president and chief operating officer at Shep Digital Solutions, “These new solutions allow convenience retailers the opportunity to take back control of their forecourt and focus on converting fuel-only customers to in-store, multi-product purchasers, leading to increased profits.”
Gilbarco Veeder Root has stepped up its dispenser system capability with Encore Experience. The company reports Encore Experience delivers more than 100 million promotions per month, driving demonstrated traffic and in-store sales lift. Recent market research at one U.S.-based retailer shows Encore Experience drove a 39% increase in sales of in-store promotions to gas station c-store customers.
Encore Experience can be factory-installed to support media in new Encore 700 S dispensers or on FlexPay IV retrofit kits for existing Encore 300, 500 units. The system will work with any point of sale system and does not require changes to existing POS systems. Encore Experience supports all major file types, allowing operators to develop their own video or graphics to create messaging or promote their brand.
Pompe Media is a Quebec-based company that is bringing new merchandising tools to the forecourt through the introduction of several unique technological innovations. Pompe Media improves the customer shopping experience by displaying news, weather and other content such as c-store specials and promotions in front of customers as they fill their gas tanks. Recently the company rolled its system into Ontario, with plans for further market expansion.
According to Sylvain Béland, vice-president of development, Pompe Media, dispenser-top systems offer a 21.5-inch display screen that delivers content to motorists while they spend up to four minutes fuelling. “All our customers are happy about the “wow effect” that our technology is providing to their gas stations. But more importantly, they are very satisfied with the impact of their overall sales that we are generating. For example, we increase lottery sales by 16% on average as well as have a strong sales impact on energy drinks, candy bars, car washes and even on gasoline.”
Last year 7-Eleven Canada became the first convenience group in the country to launch a chain-wide national payment and marketing app. Mobile Checkout installs free on mobile devices and offers methods for contactless payment for gas and car wash as well as in-store purchases. Once open, the app delivers targeted marketing messaging to drive in-store sales.
"We're reinventing convenience with the 7-Eleven Mobile Checkout, and this is yet another example of how we're developing digital innovation to actively exceed our customers' needs,” says Norman Hower, VP and GM of 7-Eleven Canada.
Canada is the second market to introduce the feature after a successful launch and expansion in the U.S. earlier in 2021. Mobile Checkout has been used by over a million 7-Eleven customers at all of their 3,000 participating stores in the U.S.