COVID-19 brought the global economy to a grinding halt, spurring stay-at-home mandates and decreasing the demand for fuel as many workers shifted to remote work and others became unemployed.
But despite the understandable decrease in sales caused by the pandemic, fuel and convenience store (C-Store) merchants continued to serve as an essential source of commerce in 2020 for consumers in need of gas, food, beverages, and other quick-stop shopping experiences.
Now, the second half of 2021 promises a return to normal sales volumes. How can C-stores and fuel merchants ensure they earn their full share of sales while protecting consumers and themselves from risks?
In an upcoming webinar, expert speakers Dan Coates, Omni-Commerce Solution Evangelist at ACI Worldwide, and Raymond Pucci, Director of Merchant Services at Mercator Advisory Group, will answer this question and offer exclusive insights from a newly released Mercator Advisory Group whitepaper sponsored by ACI Worldwide.
The whitepaper, “Payments Success: Solutions and Strategies for Fuel and Convenience Merchants,” addresses the fuel and convenience retail vertical and the must-have transaction security tools that merchants need to enhance the customer experience and drive revenue.
The importance of payments for fuel merchants and C-stores
2020 was not easy for anyone, and C-stores were no exception. According to The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, fuel merchants totaled $549 billion in sales in 2020. This was a 15.9% decrease from 2019’s $648 billion. Even so, store counts are strong for C-stores. With over 150,000 convenience store locations, the market is the largest retail category of brick-and-mortar in the United States.
It is crucial for convenience stores to provide a positive customer experience. As is the case in many other verticals, enabling more payment options is one way to keep customers coming back.
While many customers have gotten into the habit of pulling out their plastic cards to make purchases, that should not be the only option. Payment systems with omni-commerce solutions are a must for fuel and convenience merchants looking to drive revenue and profits.
Mobile apps are a particularly promising way to engage with consumers. This rings particularly true given the fact that contactless payments were widely adopted by consumers during COVID-19. These apps can be used not just for payments, but also for other experience-enhancing perks, such as personalized marketing, loyalty programs, and remote order and pick up capabilities. C-stores that build customer loyalty will reap the benefits of having individuals come back for multiple visits.
Fueling fraud prevention with a multilayered approach
Also crucial to the payment and customer experience is fraud prevention. This is an ongoing area of concern for fuel merchants. In fact, as of April 17, 2021–the extended EMV liability shift deadline–less than half of fuel merchants had met the EMV automated fuel dispenser (AFD) compliance mandate. Mercator Advisory Group estimates that noncompliant fuel and convenience retailers could lose an average of $17,315 per site in fraud losses in 12 months following the liability shift.
Ultimately, a multi-layered security approach will be necessary to maintain the delicate balance between retaining and gaining new customers and defending against payment fraud and liability in an increasingly sophisticated world. Payment security tools such as enabling EMV at the pump, point-to-point encryption, advanced fraud detection, and card data tokenization can be powerful fraud fighting methods.
Interested in learning more?
Findings from Mercator Advisory Group’s ACI Worldwide sponsored whitepaper highlight the need for improved transaction security measures in the growing fuel and convenience retail market.
These findings will be discussed in depth in an upcoming webinar, “Payments Success: Solutions and Strategies for Fuel and Convenience Merchants,” which will take place on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT.
ACI Worldwide’s Dan Coates and Mercator Advisory Group’s Raymond Pucci will also explore the need for contactless and mobile payments, lay out why mobile apps are increasingly essential for loyalty and cross-selling opportunities, and highlight the key elements of multi-layered security and how these tools come together to prevent fraud. Click here to register for the upcoming webinar: “Payments Success: Solutions and Strategies for Fuel and Convenience Merchants.”