Archive for the “Guest Engagement” Category

The Future of Gen Z and Convenience Stores

Convenience stores have been an American staple for close to 100 years, serving an important function for the average consumer. But with technology changing so rapidly and major retailers like Amazon making moves that threaten the market, will c-stores continue to be relevant to the next generation?

It’s necessary to answer this question because Gen Z (the next generation with purchasing power) constitutes nearly 27% of the entire U.S. population and is on track to be the largest generation of consumers. However, its shopping habits are substantially different from other groups. If convenience stores can’t capture the interest of this generation now, they’ll struggle to stay relevant … and stay in business.

Here are six trends that conveniences stores need to be aware of – and capitalize on – to create loyal shoppers among Gen Z.

  1. They are technology natives. Gen Z is the first true digital generation, and its members are accustomed to being able to use mobile phones, apps, and the Internet to do anything they need to do. That means, of course, that a c-store must incorporate technology into its interactions with customers, whether it be apps, mobile ordering, paying via mobile, or some combination of them.
  2. They expect diversity in their food. We already know that this is a “foodie” generation – perhaps even more so than others. But Gen Z has wider access to a variety of cuisines from cultures around the world, which makes it incumbent upon convenience stores to offer many different types and flavors of foods.
  3. They expect a mobile presence. Beyond a fondness for technology in general, the members of Gen Z are especially attached to their mobile devices. They expect the businesses they frequent to cater to them in the form of a mobile-optimized site, an app, a mobile loyalty program, and/or SMS messaging.
  4. They use online reviews to guide choices. More than any other generation, Gen Z makes buying choices based on online reviews. Studies have shown than a one-star increase for a business on Yelp leads to a 5-9% increase in revenue. C-stores need to constantly monitor their online reviews, as well as encourage happy customers to write them.
  5. They have an expectation of immediacy. Members of this digital generation are accustomed to being able to access what they want when they want it. Convenience stores, therefore, need to implement ways for Gen Z customers to get items as quickly as possible, including offering NFC Loyalty and mobile payment.
  6. They regularly order online. There has never been a time when Gen Z couldn’t place orders for things online. Just a few years ago, two-day shipping was a revelation, and now people can have a reasonable expectation of getting a delivery in less than an hour. A c-store that wants to stay competitive in the marketplace needs to offer store delivery, curbside pickup, or both.

Digital guest engagement programs are the key to making Gen Z (and all generations) feel as valued as possible. They enable c-stores to gather data and use it to deliver promotions, discounts, and messaging that is relevant on an individual level. These programs can include and/or integrate with an app, mobile payment, delivery options, and any number of other digital touchpoints.

Because the promotions are personally meaningful, customers partake in them and visit the c-store location more frequently. And encouraging those habits when Gen Z is young helps create loyalty for life.

Engaging Gen Z customers requires a comprehensive plan. To learn more about attracting this generation to your stores, check out our on-demand webinar, “Does Gen Z Have a Need for Convenience Stores?”

3 Data-Backed Marketing Tools for Connecting with Your Customers

In the age of Big Data, having a wealth of information can be both a blessing and a curse. There are a lot of valuable insights to gain, but you need a team with the right skillset to determine what is important and apply it to the creation of effective campaigns as well as your overall marketing strategy. Since no solution is going to work for every brand, taking a deep dive and developing a customized approach will always yield the best results.

Here are three data-backed tools that you should consider implementing to engage customers and increase sales:

  1. Subscriptions: Falling under the larger umbrella of stored-value payment, subscriptions are a growing trend. Some brands choose to let their customers load prepaid meals onto an account, which is not much different than preloading cash to spend. In both cases, when guests store value on a card or in an account that’s linked to a loyalty program, visits and spend typically increase. Prepaid meal passes have sometimes resulted in incremental spend being boosted by up to 80%. When stored value is paired with auto-reload features, it can produce additional benefits like a 15% increase in weekly visits.
  2. Artificial Intelligence: More than a hip term, AI is a tool that is helping marketers determine the most impactful ways to reach their guests at a reasonable cost. Taking individualization beyond bands and segments allows marketers to optimize promotions and maximize their ROI. One-to-one visit challenges that offer rewards based on individual guest behavior have generated remarkable results. One such challenge saw the number of visits increase 10.5% across all guests and almost 28% among those who were already visiting somewhat regularly. Choosing the right promotion can entice more visits and spend from even your best guests.
  3. Segmentation and Predictive Scoring: Targeting guests by likelihood to take actions can further refine any marketing strategy. Whether guests are inclined to visit once a week or once a year, you can craft promotions that will work for each segment. Thoughtfully structured campaigns typically drive a 15-25% increase in visit frequency and prompt behavior changes like visiting at a different time of day, spending more, and trying new products. Predictive models can also be used to identify segments that are likely to visit without receiving an offer, helping you avoid cannibalization.

In the hands of the right data insights team, these tools will motivate increased visits and spend, which ultimately leads to improved top-line sales. To learn more about building a successful loyalty program, download “Target Low-Frequency Guests. Here’s Why.

5 Ways to Make the Guest Experience Frictionless

Your guests increasingly expect frictionless experiences when dining out. Whether customers choose to visit a fast-casual or full-service restaurant in person or have their favorite meal delivered, making their interactions with your brand seamless from start to finish should be high on your priority list. Here are five of the top ways you can remove potential speedbumps and deliver the best possible frictionless guest experience.

  1. NFC Loyalty ID
    NFC Loyalty ID represents the intersection of convenient payment and guest engagement. Through innovative technology, retailers can provide frictionless guest experiences while at the same time capturing data and offering easy program enrollment. Many guests already have their phones in their hands while waiting in line, so a simple tap at an NFC-enabled payment terminal lets them make purchases without having to dig through purses or wallets for a means of payment. Enrolled guests earn and redeem rewards with that same tap, while those not currently enrolled will be prompted to join, making NFC Loyalty ID an easy way to acquire more members while keeping existing ones engaged.
  2. Pay-by-Mobile
    Did you know that guests at a full-service restaurant wait an average of 12 minutes between the time they request their check and when their transaction is complete? This time spent waiting often leaves a negative last impression for guests who might have otherwise enjoyed the meal. With Pay-by-Mobile, guests can load their bill onto the restaurant’s mobile app and pay as soon as they are ready. By eliminating the waiting period, the guests have better experiences, the restaurant can more quickly turn the table over during peak times, and servers receive higher tips.
  3. Online Ordering
    For guests on the go, the ability to place an order online and pick it up without having to wait provides the convenience they seek. In order to deliver the best possible experience for your guests, in-store pickup needs to be as quick and easy as the ordering process. If guests have placed an order online to avoid a wait, you shouldn’t make them stand in line to pick up their meal. Having a clearly marked designated area for picking up online orders eliminates the last chance for friction and ends the guest experience on a high note.
  4. Delivery
    For many of your customers, the most convenient option is often not going out at all, but rather, having their meals brought to them. Since delivery is predicted to constitute 40% of restaurant sales by 2020, many restaurants view it as a necessity. By making delivery available through your mobile app and coordinating it with your loyalty program, you will gain rich data for your marketing strategy and learn which promotions are likely to be the most effective.
  5. Stored Value
    Like NFC Loyalty ID, stored value presents another way that guests can pay for purchases without having to put down their phone. By loading money onto the mobile app, guests are making a commitment to your brand and ensuring that they will return for future visits. When their balances are running low, guests can be prompted to load more money onto their accounts or encouraged to sign up for auto-reload. These options provide guests with the peace of mind that they will always be able to cover their next purchase.

Learn more about ways you can make your guest experience frictionless by calling Paytronix at 617-649-3300, extension 5 or request a demo today.

3 Ways to Make a Working Lunch Work for You

 

According to a recent survey by Tork, millennials are three times more likely than baby boomers to believe that coworkers would judge them negatively for taking a lunch break. With millennials now constituting the majority of the workforce in the United States, their reluctance to eat during the workday is putting a dent in weekday-afternoon traffic. To counteract this mindset, brands are taking some interesting approaches. Potbelly, for instance, has partnered with UberConference to play hold music with humorous lyrics meant to make listeners crave a sandwich during afternoon conference calls.

How can your brand attract more lunchtime customers? Here are three proven ways:

  1. Drive on-premises visits. Timely messages containing lunch promotions should be sent through email or SMS. A buy-one, get-one-half-off promotion is likely to entice people to bring their coworkers and move their meetings outside of the office. Providing Wi-Fi and ample places for electronics to be plugged in will accommodate guests who are looking to get work done while they eat. Even the old promotion involving business cards being placed in a fishbowl can be digitized, enabling entry for the prize with each lunch order.
  2. Offer advance ordering and quick pickup. People who are hungry but don’t feel like they have much time to spare will appreciate being able to order ahead, whether online or through a mobile app. Advance ordering that is frictionless and easy to navigate makes it convenient for this segment of your guests to grab some lunch and take it back to the office.
  3. Focus on corporate catering clients. One of the most common office perks is company-provided lunch. The average business spends $1,100 per month on catering, so having that type of revenue can easily compensate for fewer individual orders. Since 30 percent of catering customers order weekly, attracting clients by offering a catering rewards program can provide a significant boost to sales. And if you make a good impression, those corporate employees are likely to visit you on their own time.

To learn more about what you can do to attract lunchtime business, register for our upcoming webinar, “How to Win the Lunch Crowd,” which takes place on July 9th at 1 p.m. EST.