Self-ordering at the gas pump offers c-stores an opportunity to enhance customer experience, grow product purchase and boost profitability. It also can meet increasing consumer expectation.
Photo: Dover Fueling Solutions/Dover Corp. Air Cooled Chiller
Oct. 10, 2023 | by Judy Mottl — Editor, RetailCustomerExperience.com & RewardsThatMatter.com
Imagine you stop to fuel up at your local convenience store and, while gas pumps into your car tank, you use the time to order milk, a hot lunch item and maybe a candy bar for a treat. Once the order is placed you get a text message confirming the order.
After you return the gas nozzle into its holder, and put your gas cap back on, all you need to do is a quick stop into the store to pick up your items. You have eliminated time needed to shop and the time typically spent on a checkout line.
That's the promise of a self-ordering technology that aims to help c-stores and fueling stations enhance the customer experience, increase the purchase level and increase profitability all while a customer is at the pump.
The innovation, called DX Market, uses a Grubbrr self-ordering solution for gas stations and has been launched in tandem with a partnership with Dover Fueling Solutions. It is built into the DFS Anthem UX platform on the Wayne Ovation fuel dispenser.
Dover Fueling Solutions, headquartered in Austin, Texas, is part of Dover Corp. and a provider of energy dispensing equipment, electronic automation and payment systems, automatic tank gauging and subscription solutions to fueling and convenience retail customers worldwide.
Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, Grubbrr offers self-ordering solutions and POS systems. Its tech ecosystem includes kiosks, mobile ordering, online ordering and contactless smart lockers.
The Anthem UX Platform is integrated with Grubbrr's software which enables fuel retailers to offer customizable promotions and upsell opportunities with video and static content.
It's currently in pilot mode at gas stations in Michigan and Florida.
One station running a pilot is the 211 Rally-Shell station in Clearwater, Florida.
The Risser Oil Corp., which oversees the Shell site in Clearwater, learned of the technology at a recent industry show, according to Jill Sabol, director of marketing, brand manager, Risser Oil.
The station deployed the technology in August and is still in pilot mode. Things "seem to be running smooth," Sabol said in an email interview.
Deployment was "simple," and there was little staff training involved, she said.
The station is hoping the technology will deliver on all the potential promises — benefits that go beyond boosting the c-store experience.
One such benefit is that the shopping capability and ease of self-checkout drives foot traffic into c-stores and advertising on the screens has increased sales for promoted items by up to 50%, according to DFS.
It can also reduce friction in the store's checkout process and provides an innovative way to engage with customers.
But maybe, most importantly, the technology is something consumers will embrace and expect, according to a report, Future of Fueling Trend, from DFS.
The report revealed key trends shaping consumer behavior and preference:
A recent Acosta Group study revealed 45% of c-store shoppers are purchasing hot foods at least once weekly, with sandwiches, breakfast foods and pizza as top choices. The study also revealed 52% of c-store shoppers are shopping once or more weekly and nearly 30% are making more trips to c-stores than they did last year. It also noted that shoppers learn about promotions primarily via in-store signage and signage at the fuel/charging stations, in addition to retailer apps.
"The c-store channel is absolutely on a growth path," Hobie Walker, SVP, small format, Acosta, an Acosta Group agency, said in a press release. "This study informs us that in-store food, both CPG and foodservice, will be more important than ever to ongoing channel sales."
As the study statistics revealed, the technology addresses the convenience and speed expected by c-store consumers, according to Sam Zietz, CEO of Grubbrr.
"The trend is driven by consumer expectations and an untapped retail opportunity," Zietz said in an email interview. "The collaboration aims to generate increased revenue for fuel retailers by allowing customers to order food and shop while pumping gas. This is an untapped retail opportunity that will enhance the customer experience and increase profitability."
But, as with any technology effort, that doesn't mean there aren't challenges when interlocking shopping and self-checkout into the gas pumping experience.
"The challenge, as with any new technology or service, is user adoption and awareness. Grubbrr's solution helps address that concern with on-screen messages inviting customers to order right at the pump. In addition to the screen, signage is strategically placed around the premises to let customers know of this new service," said Zietz.
Any potential hurdles are outweighed by the gains for the retailer, according to Scott Negley, senior director, product management, DFS.
"DX Market powered by Grubbrr simplifies the order fulfillment process for store operators, ultimately improving operational efficiency to the benefit of both consumers and retailers," Negley said in an email interview.
"While consumers used to visit c-stores for a quick refuel, their expectations have shifted to focus on frictionless, simplified and streamlined experiences from the moment they pull up to the pump to when they drive away. C-stores need to evolve to meet these heightened expectations. Our partnership with Grubbrr is poised to create better consumer experiences while helping c-stores increase their sales."
Judy Mottl is editor of Retail Customer Experience and Rewards That Matter. She has decades of experience as a reporter, writer and editor covering technology and business for top media including AOL, InformationWeek, InternetNews and Food Truck Operator.
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