Putting convenience into the c-store of the future.

                                                                                   

As c-stores expand into food services and becoming mini grocery stores, let's think about the technology you should have and the staffing levels you will need to support this.

Scenario #1, customer pulls up to the store, parks outside the store, goes in, orders a sandwich at the kiosk/self-checkout at the food counter, swipes his loyalty card, suspends the transaction, takes a bathroom break, gets himself a coffee and a few snacks, returns to the kiosk/self-checkout, pays for the sandwich, coffee and snack, swipes his card for $30 and puts the change onto pre-paid gas. The pump # is not known at this time. A receipt is printed showing a receipt number and the transaction is recorded on the customer's loyalty  card. The customer leaves the store, drives to an empty pump, enters the receipt number or swipes his loyalty card, gets his gas, leaves.

Scenario #2, customer pulls up to pump 5, goes into the store, orders a sandwich at the kiosk/self - checkout at the food counter, optional bathroom break etc., gets himself a coffee and a snack, returns to the kiosk/self-checkout, pays for the sandwich, coffee and snack, swipes his card for $30 and puts the change onto pre-paid gas. When prompted, he selects pump 5. He returns to his car where the pump is pre-authorized to the dollar amount.

Scenario #3, customer drives up to the pump, presses the pay inside button, and as the customer has pay inside privileges through Sigma's Pump Start, then e/she can immediately dispense fuel. (The customer will have got his Pump Start card by having the store's loyalty card and swiping his D/L in association with it at a Pump Start enrollment process either at a kiosk/self­ checkout or at the checkout on a previous visit to the store). Pump Start will prompt the customer to swipe his card, pay inside privileges are confirmed and the customer fuels up. Customer orders a sandwich at the kiosk/self-checkout at the food counter, gets himself a coffee and a snack, returns to the kiosk/self-checkout, pays for the sandwich, coffee and snack, and as he swipes his loyalty card, the pump transaction is added to the bill. Customer pays and leaves.

As a member of the VIP rewards club, the customer is part of a program that gives him his 6th coffee free and his 8th sandwich free. He/she will get a gift on his birthday, have a chance to win sporting tickets and you will be able to email and text him personalized offers as well. His purchases are also monitored, so he/she is upsold on what he/she or others who conform to the same buying pattern as he does, also purchase. He is also alerted at the kiosk/self-checkout that he can have a second bag of chips at half price and so on.

This VIP customer might also want to get cheaper gas, so he/she can sign up at the kiosk/self-checkout for the ACH or ACH/gift card program. This is where you sidestep your credit fees and either run an ACH transaction every time the customer visits the store or offer a re-loadable gift card, that, like an EZ Pass card, the card is recharged automatically, every time it drops to a specified dollar value. Then the card is recharged. And as a valued customer, if the card goes negative, we don't mind as the next ACH run will put the account back into credit.

And for card, let's optionally substitute mobile app, so instead of swiping his card at the pump or at the kiosk/self checkout, NFC reads his/her phone or the phone scans a QR code or barcode.

Any Starbucks customer will be familiar with the process.

Now the customer is getting discounted gas, buying and prompted to buy more in the store, checking himself out and you have saved credit card fees, at least some of your plastic card fees and the cost of a cashier or two. The customer doesn't have to stand in line behind people buying lottery tickets and cigarettes, so the customers in line also get processed quicker. You can expand your stores from food service into other grocery offerings. Fast and convenient for the customer, great for your gross margin. Even better for your net margin.