- Enhanced payment security and a fast payment process are among the top features customers value when buying items from c-stores, according to a recent survey from fueling systems and technology firm Dover Fueling Solutions.
- Nearly 80% of respondents cited safe payments and a lack of credit card skimming devices at the pump as features they value when making purchases, up from 70% last year.
- Experts suggested checking dispensers every day, making sure software and hardware is up to date and employing basic protocols like changing passwords frequently to help retailers combat bad actors.
"There is nothing more frustrating than having to cancel credit or debit cards due to fraud, and retailers risk losing loyal fuelers if their gas station is perceived as a risk,” said Scott Negley, senior director of product management for Dover Fueling Solutions, in the report.
If gas stations can’t live up to consumer expectations, those customers aren’t afraid to move on. Half of those surveyed and 60% of Millennials specifically said they’d switch to a competitor if the experience was better. Top determining factors included safety, amenities, cleanliness, easy access, friendly staff and a wide selection of food and drinks.
“I’d advise retailers to figure out who your customer is and super-serve that target segment,” said Kristin Ghere, director of marketing and brand management for c-store chain Jump Start Stores noted in the report. “Define what makes you unique in the space and focus on that.”
Top 5 features
When looking at the features that consumers want in gas stations, many top picks were important to even more people in 2023 than in 2022.
The survey also found that younger customers are interested in self-service options. Nearly 60% of Millenial and Gen Z respondents said they were more likely to use technology to order, rather than placing their order with a staff member.
However, only 42% of customers preferred self-service ordering, with the number dropping to 30% among the Baby Boomers. Those who disliked that feature mostly cited losing the human connection as their reason, according to the survey.
A little over a month ago, Austin, Texas-based Dover Fueling Solutions partnered with Grubbrr to begin offering ordering at the pump. When the survey’s respondents were asked what features might make them place orders directly from the pump, top responses were time savings, convenience and access to special offers.
When it comes to advertising at the pump, customers are more interested in weather, traffic reports and information on a company’s loyalty program than the in-store offers that many retailers currently rely on.
Retailers should also make sure the overall ad experience is a pleasant one.
“Edit your ads to ensure a consistent and reasonable volume, and stay conscious of what audio plays in the forecourt when people aren’t actively fueling,” said Keelye Gaither, brand and marketing director for fuel and lubricant distributor Key Oil Company, in the report. “Is it chaotic or pleasant?”
Other potential improvements at the pump noted in the survey include:
- When getting gas, some consumers would like it to flow faster, or to be able to pump preset amounts or fill the tank with a button press.
- Consumers also expressed interest in all types of payments being accepted at the pump, even cash.
- Some were interested in user-friendly options, including controls for display brightness, since sometimes the displays are hard to see, as well as clearer credit card instructions and volume controls for on-pump videos.
DFS surveyed over 1,000 U.S. consumers in July 2023 to compile its report.