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Pump to Store Conversion

Fuel Buyer Behavior Insights Drive Pump-to-Store Conversions

The current competitive landscape is driving the need for c-store retailers to get closer than ever to understanding their store performance and shopper experience.  A more precise picture can help inform on strategies designed to drive value, differentiate in a crowded market, and identify and remove barriers that could be diverting opportunities for revenue gains. 

You could say that to know thy shopper is to influence thy shopper.  Not all shoppers are the same, but starting at the shoppers’ origin provides an important first step to journey-specific marketing. 

The first question you should ask when trying to understand your customer:  Are they coming from the gas pump, or are they parking and coming directly into the store?   

In 2022, VideoMining observed an average of 27% of c-stores’ in-store traffic originating from the pump.  This provides a critical first step to understand shopper missions and behaviors so retailers and suppliers can more effectively market to customers with messaging tailored to their specific journey.  But even this does not tell the whole story. 

Customers at the Pump: What Happens Next? 

The moment a fuel buyer steps out of their car and pops the lid to their tank, a fuel sale has most likely been generated.  Pump-level transaction data gives us a piece of the puzzle on average spend and fuel volume (NACS CSX Database reports pump transactions were up 8.9 percent last year, while volume sold remained relatively flat).   

The next question you should ask is …..then what?  That all depends on where the fuel buyer pays for their fuel purchase: at the pump, or in the store?  Monitoring traffic patterns and shoppers’ step-by-step journey provides the missing link of the fuel buyer story, and exposes unique customer segments that retailers should observe and tailor messaging to.

Customers Who Pay at the Pump 

Customers who start their journey at the pump and complete the transaction there have, arguably, no reason directly linked to their fuel purchase to ever step foot in the store.  This reveals two customer segments that should be analyzed and understood to build data-driven and targeted marketing strategies at convenience stores. 

Within fuel transactions that close at the pump, several shopper groups emerge:   

'Gas-and-Gone' Customers 

VideoMining’s in-store behavior tracking found that the percent of fuel buyers who pull up, pay at the pump, get back in their car, and leave represented 55% of fuel buying trips in 2022. These customers might be the farthest away from being converted to in-store buyers, but effective marketing based on this knowledge can drive higher pump-to-store traffic and incremental in-store purchases. To get there, retailers must ask themselves how they are marketing to this captive audience at the pump, and continuously test messaging and promotions to uncover opportunities to win.    

Two-Stop Shoppers 

The final segment to look closely at are those who pay for their fuel at the pump, and then walk into the store.  These two-stop shoppers have made an intentional choice to cross the threshold, making them a valuable primed audience for cross-promotions, impulse purchases, and foodservice bundles.  Strategic testing of in-store merchandising placements and messages can uncover insights to unlock opportunities for incremental revenue and higher basket rings from these journeys.    

Fuel Buyers Who Pay Inside 

Fuel buyers who walk inside the store to complete their fuel purchase can either pay for gas and exit or become in-store buyers during that trip.  The merchandising that the fuel buyer is exposed to on their way to the counter will make or break their conversion to in-store shoppers.  Enticing messages that start at the pump and work their way through the store entrance and checkout area can encourage impulse purchases and drive traffic towards key categories.  An in-depth front end behavioral study, plus ongoing test and learns of various in-store solutions can help you evolve your strategy over time.  

Knowledge is Power 

The story of the fuel buyer can be expanded by looking at actual traffic patterns and the behaviors and actions of customers in each unique fuel buying journey.  At VideoMining, we’re passionate about unlocking insights around the actual behaviors of shoppers. We look beyond what shoppers say they’ll do, or report back they did, to analyze the most raw and true version of evidence: their actual actions and behaviors. This provides a one-of-a-kind perspective that is rooted in fact, not theory.