How Convenience Stores Can Drive More Foot Traffic Over The Holiday Season

Gas stations automatically see more traffic at the pump over the holiday travel season. But a few simple details appear to affect how much customers will spend.

Gas stations and convenience stores saw a 56 percent uptick in foot traffic during the summer travel season, according to GasBuddy and Cuebiq’s Q3 Foot Traffic Report — and that trend is set to repeat itself over the holiday season as consumers hit the road to visit family members and take winter break vacations.

It’s no surprise that gas stations see more payments at the pump during popular vacation times; filling up the tank is a simple necessity. But through targeted and timed mobile promotions aimed at reaching customers during the “last mile” of their journey, they can turn these visits into repeat business — and drive sales of convenience store products from snacks to coffee.

For example, a combination of rich media and location targeting last holiday season helped RaceTrac generate a 47 percent lift in traffic at the gas station convenience store chain’s 450 outlets across the southern United States.

The December 2016 campaign was run by full-service digital agency Vert, along with design firm R/GA, and geo-data ad and attribution platform NinthDecimal. As we wrote at the time, the trio collaborated on developing “a dynamic, engaging ‘drive-to-store’ mobile ad unit that was both eye-catching and easily trackable. The rich media ad was designed to guide mobile users to the nearest RaceTrac convenience store using their current location.

NinthDecimal then built an audience segment comprised of consumers who were most likely to respond to the ad based on previous visits to RaceTrac and its competitors’ locations. Using NinthDecimal’s Location Graph data set of mobile audiences’ devices, it served the ad to those “qualified users” when they were within 10 miles of a RaceTrac convenience store.

Check The Signage — And The Restrooms

In addition, “today’s leading convenience stores are in a position to compete with coffee shops, QSRs, liquor stores, and even grocery stores,” the report states. “With the busy Q4 holiday season around the corner… and with customers spending an average of 2-3 minutes to refuel, [also] consider your signage at the pumps. Appeal to a broad audience by highlighting the full range of your in-store offerings.”

Besides location-based ads and signage at the pumps, what else influences the amount customers are likely to spend during a gas station stop? Perhaps surprisingly, it’s restroom quality, GasBuddy finds.

In fact, with summer road trip drivers, there was a strong correlation between
restroom quality and foot traffic. Stations near interstates with above-average ratings on GasBuddy saw a 33 percent increase in foot traffic over those with below-average ratings — meaning that customers are checking the reviews, and even those who aren’t are influenced to spend more and stay longer because of this (seemingly) simple experience.

“Leading brands like Buc-ee’s and Kwik Trip not only provide a superb restroom experience, but incorporate it into their marketing efforts,” says Frank Beard, retail and convenience store trends analyst at GasBuddy. “It affects everything from the sale of hot food and cold beverages to brand loyalty.”

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.