Consumers are dynamic not static and
today that means smartphones are fast becoming the food marketing platform of
choice according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant
Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice
In a battle for share of stomach C-stores,
restaurants, bodegas, and grocery store delis all need a fresh focus on smartphones.
Art Sebastian, vice president of digital experiences at Casey’s, stated, “Digital engagement is more important now than ever
because that is the way people live… “People expect to digitally engage with
restaurants, c-stores and grocery stores, and as a channel, we can’t be left
out of that.”
Today, digital engagement for grocerant
niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh food space is not just about getting
customers onto the lot, but also getting them into the store and influencing
their purchases once they’re there. Today that includes digital signage at the
forecourt, digital signage in the store — such as cooler screens and
foodservice menu boards mobile apps,
mobile marketing, loyalty programs and more.
Kevin Rice, chief marketing officer at
San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based Hathway, stated, “To be successful with
digital, c-stores need to think more holistically about consumer experiences
and avoid the shiny object of the week,”.
“Everything has to work consistently and
seamlessly across every interaction and touchpoint for your digital strategy to
be effective,” he said. “The industry is convenience, but it’s also the
expectation of the customer, and this needs to be part of the digital
How well do you know your customer?
Consider that one of the biggest benefits of interacting digitally with
consumers is the data that can be captured, which can then help c-store
operators make decisions on products, merchandising and marketing. Capturing
and analyzing this data must be part of an overall digital strategy.
Sebastian added, “For us, when you engage with a customer digitally, you
are building data and that is one of the most powerful aspects we have at the
moment”. “This might sound too simple, but our loyalty program is really doing
the job for us,” .. “We have 4.3 million members and if they use it, they have
the mobile app, so we can send push notifications. This has become the leading
driver of in-store conversions.”
has been collecting data through its loyalty program long enough that it can
now send personalized offers to individuals based on their past behavior, the time
of day they typically shop the store, and other metrics. The chain can also
track if those offers are opened and redeemed.
Rice went on to say, many
c-stores offering pay at the pump via a mobile app can utilize this type of
push notification to also get customers from the forecourt into the store. Once
in-store, it often results in them purchasing more than just the deal offered...“When
filling up the gas tank, customers are a captive audience, so give them a free
cup of coffee to get them into the store, or offer a car wash coupon, or
anything else you might have available to them,” … “Give them something to get
into the door and they will probably buy something else as well.”
Don’t stop just because they come in the
door. The same goes for digital engagement once a customer is in the store.
With consumers spending so much time on their mobile phones these days,
utilizing this to communicate to them allows retailers to create a personal
connection. When someone is logged into an app, the c-store retailer can know
they are there using geolocation, and many have access to past purchase history
and preferences, so they can send a relevant push notification to entice them
uses Salesforce’s Einstein artificial intelligence (AI) product to turn its
sales data into business insights, and the chain is optimizing message send
times using AI. Casey’s is also segmenting loyalty members by a variety of
metrics, such as when they open messages, to maximize open rates, Sebastian
“We do messaging as an app push, an
in-app message in the app mailbox, SMS for those who signed up, and email — all
depending on what a person responds best to,” according to Sebastian.
Personalization and customization is a
major area of focus for Casey’s is making sure its in-store digital screens and
menu boards are personalized and showing the most relevant content at the right
time. Sebastian’s goal is to be even more personalized in this area, targeting
what audience they are talking to, what day of the week, etc.
“We have digital menu boards, but there
is work to do to personalize them and make them more relevant as well,”
Solutions® to complete a Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or
placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®. Since 1991 Foodservice
Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the
Grocerant niche. Contact: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or 253-759-7869