Connect with customers via email and loyalty apps to inform, build trust and entertain.   ~ Courtesy of NACS Daily Magazine

Impact 21’s Jeannie Amerson shares her insights with NACS Daily Magazine.

While convenience and fuel retailers are focused on managing the ever-changing COVID-19 safety procedures at store level, loyalty programs can be an overlooked or underleveraged tool for building trust and brand goodwill. Loyalty members spend more per visit ($11.17 on average), or 29% more than non-members ($8.66), according to PDI’s 2019 C-Store Shopper Report. In addition, 57% of loyalty members make an in-store visit to buy merchandise each time they fill up at the pump.

Retailer loyalty programs can provide a direct link to a significant portion of a retailer’s customer base during a crisis and provide lifesaving information, appropriate incentives to help inform buying decisions and avenues to make working at home more entertaining and convenient. Below are some potential loyalty program practices to keep in mind when navigating employee safety and serving customers’ needs during this crisis:

  • Customer Communications
    Retailers should be leveraging emails, push and in-app messages in tandem with in-store POP messages to communicate the following:
    • Steps being taken to ensure store, employee and customer safety are a top priority
    • Reinforce contactless experiences being offered such as delivery, curbside pickup, drive-thru, mobile order and pay
    • Information on community support activities during the crisis
    • Job openings, including links to apply
    • Relevant offers or notifications of high-demand product availability and value promotions
  • Communication Strategy
    Ensure all communications platforms and messaging are monitored and updated frequently
    • Content should be updated continually to inform and be relevant to the customer needs
    • Messaging on all communication platforms should always reflect the same content as in-store signage
    • Ensure end-to-end communications by listening to customer and employee feedback and reacting to it quickly to change the experience
    • Cancel or postpone any communications that may appear insensitive or irrelevant
  • Assortments and Store Layouts
    Use loyalty data to assist in developing new product assortments and floor-plan adjustments based on the temporary rise or decline in customer needs and wants
    • Temporarily free up additional cooler and/or shelf space for items that are in high demand during the crisis
    • Evaluate changes in customer shopping patterns and utilize valuable floor display space for key crisis purchases (e.g. large take-home packages of snacks and drinks, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, paper towels and toilet paper)
    • Reposition products in high traffic areas so customers can have adequate distancing and feel more comfortable shopping 
  • Website, Mobile and Social
    Quickly and effectively react to new customers’ changing needs through these digital platforms, including contactless shopping experience options
    • Add website, mobile and social media ordering capabilities
    • Ensure customers have the right product assortment availability for their purchases
    • Implement curbside pickup and delivery
    • Offer alternate payment options within the website or mobile environment
    • Work with CPG vendors to create value-added digital offers
  • Unique Offers for Loyalty Members
    Engage and serve them in different and unique ways
    • Provide entertaining content on the website and mobile app to take advantage of time spent at home
    • Tailor personalized messaging and individual promotional offers
    • Enhance gamification and instant rewards on your app or website
    • Provide free delivery or curbside incentives
    • Notifications or alerts on new items or restocked items
    • Offer earn and/or burn reward options for donations to community programs

Jeannie Amerson is a principal consultant, Impact 21. NACS and Impact 21 partner to deliver the NACS Certified Convenience Category Manager Course and NACS Certified Convenience Advanced Category Management Curriculum for NACS members. Click here to register or learn more about the basic CCMC course for managers, and click here to register or learn more about the advanced CCACM course.

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit their coronavirus resources page.

Jeannie Amerson

Jeannie Amerson

Principal Consultant

Spend five minutes with Jeannie and you will know that she has a true passion for what she does. A customer-driven senior brand management executive, Jeannie applies her comprehensive skills in loyalty program design and management, integrated marketing campaign design, (social, SEO, website, and in-store), marketing analytics, and social media strategy development to client engagements.

Read more about Jeannie here.