The secret to fuel retail success: more than competitively priced gasoline

7 October, 2019

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Fuel retail success depends on more than the price of your fuel or the brand that you fly. Your convenience offering provides a huge hook and, as retailers seek to make their sites destinations, convenience only grows in importance. With a consumer that is more demanding of convenience than ever, the use of data to inform decision making becomes more important than ever. 

Convenience retail projections are considerably more complex than fuel. There are so many variables to consider, your value proposition can be one of many things. Ultimately though, a successful convenience offer comes down to convenience. You need to give your demographic what they are travelling to your site for, or what they didn’t know they needed as they pass through.

But first, what do we mean when we categorize ‘convenience’? At Kalibrate, we exclude hot food, but include the grocery store, impulse buys, coffee and drinks. Cold food is included, and is a category that’s growing in importance as the trend towards healthy food continues. 

There are four phases in approaching and improving your convenience offer, forming a virtuous circle of data and growth:

  1. Gather data
  2. Understand customer
  3. Align offering
  4. Build loyal community (get more data and refine steps 2 - 3!)

Gather data

There is a wealth of data available to retailers as they seek to enhance their convenience offerings. Big data abounds and it’s readily available at the category level. However, obtaining data is one thing, analyzing it effectively is something else. Using it to forecast - to be forward looking - is another thing again, and these are not simple tasks. 

Accurate forecasting requires simulation to understand what you’re plans will look like in reality - you can’t achieve this just by buying data, no matter how good that data is. It isn’t enough in isolation. 

One of the most useful kinds of data available today is customer purchase data. Modeling and understanding your demographic definitely improves with purchase data and thanks to loyalty and reward schemes, there’s a good amount of it available. At Kalibrate, we often take a customer’s loyalty scheme data and append it to our modelling, so we can build a really clear picture of the demographic in that area and what people are buying. 

Understand customer, align offering

Understanding what will draw your demographic in is key. The first factor that’s important to consider is the start and end points of your customers’ journeys. Look at your site in terms of where your customers are coming from and where they’re going - what might they need? 

If you have a highly local population - for example, if your site is based in a city centre - people are likely to come in for day to day items. Laundry detergent, for example. If you’re on a highway - think about the things people might need on road trips. Coffee to go, pre-packaged food.

Next, consider nearby points of interest. Maybe there’s a beach nearby? Couple this with it being summer and seasonal demand dictates stocking cheap sunglasses or sunscreen. 

Now you know a bit more about why your customers are on site, look a bit deeper at who they are. Demographics become more important at this layer. A really exciting development that Kalibrate is working on at the moment is Affinity Analysis: what is the affinity of your demographic with certain convenience offerings? Perhaps you service an affluent neighborhood that would appreciate an artisan deli? Or your store is in a very suburban, family centred area, in which case you might want to cater to the latest kids’ crazes. 

Finally, make sure you’re always keeping your competition in mind. Going above and beyond is key to creating a unique value proposition that will appeal to your customer base. Bear in mind that your competition within the convenience space goes beyond what you might usually consider it to be when assessing fuel alone - so explore businesses you wouldn’t usually, such as the local Starbucks or fast food restaurant. 

Build loyal community

Once you know your customers and have aligned your offer, it’s time to start optimizing and refining, to keep pulling them in. Remember that convenience extends beyond the products: make your offering easy to buy. And with it, make it easier for your business to collect data. Do this by introducing mobile payment options, contactless payments and incentives like advance ordering through mobile apps.

Once your offering is better aligned to the customers you’re serving, you can really start to build momentum in this virtuous circle: know them, serve them, know them better, serve them better. Considering your convenience retail offer in these terms will help you to keep drawing customers in.

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