May 04, 2021
6 min read

How Convenience Stores Can Better Support Summer Travelers

How Convenience Stores Can Better Support Summer Travelers

With Memorial Day serving as the unofficial start to summer, convenience retailers have less than a month to ensure their stores are ready for the road trips the season will bring.  

Fifty-two percent of convenience store retailers say that summer travel will be close to pre-pandemic levels, according to NACS. And as of March, Deloitte noted 33% of U.S. consumers had plans to rent a car in the next three months.    

However, consumers' habits and expectations have changed drastically since their last road trip, so convenience stores must be prepared to meet their new needs. 

Combine fuel and in-store offerings 

In the same NACS study mentioned above, retailers surveyed anticipated growth in categories including cold beverages, coffee and pre-packaged foods. This can be tied directly to the fact that they expect families to make a pit stop during road trips, as they'll be looking for refreshments and foods that don't require any extra preparation. Mr. and Mrs. Jones might want coffee after an early morning start to their road trip, but their kids might ask for a muffin or breakfast burrito.

When opting for a convenience store over a fast food restaurant, fuel is often a major motivator, as consumers can fill both needs with one action. Retailers must have a unified POS that can account for both a fuel transaction as well as an in-store purchases. This enables the kind of frictionless experience customers demand: whenever, wherever and whatever the payment requirement. 

Enable contactless payments 

Contactless payments can be used to offer order ahead options and reduce the length of checkout lines.  

Instead of wasting time letting her children pick out snacks, and then wait in a potentially long line to check out, Mrs. Jones can use her phone in the passenger seat to preorder – and pay for - exactly what they want. This ensures they're back on the road faster than ever, which is particularly important as the pandemic has increased consumers' desire to limit their time spent indoors.

As a result of this need, retailers must ensure their business can support a number of payments – including tap-and-pay credit cards, mobile pay and even QR codes. What's more, they must be able to add these and any other new capabilities without a disruption to their current processes.

Provide beneficial mobile offerings 

Since consumers are already using their devices for preordering and payments, convenience retailers can further drive loyalty by reaching these shoppers directly on their phones. If Mr. Jones usually fills up his car with a specific retailer, this road trip is a perfect chance to drive further loyalty.  

A retailer can offer discounts on any items he's previously purchased, or promotions for similar items. For example, offering a discount on his preferred bag of chips to go with a sandwich or a BOGO on candy can incentivize Mr. Jones to stop with that specific retailer on his road trip. What's more, Mr. Jones and the retailer both reap benefits of this type of loyalty.

Where the rubber meets the road 

The summer season is approaching quickly, and the Joneses, along with many other families, are preparing to hit the road. Make sure they stop and do business with you – whether that's for fuel, snacks, prepared meals or all of the above – by preparing your point of sale, payments and mobile offerings. 

Not sure where to start? We can help