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From Pump to Register: Exchange Tests Ways to Bring Shoppers Inside Expresses

A display of snacks greets customers at a Beale AFB Express in California.

For many Exchange shoppers, Expresses are a quick place to fuel up and go. But with the convenience of paying at the pump comes the challenge of bringing shoppers into the store.

“Seventy percent of people don’t leave the pump to come inside the Express,” said David Arens, division merchandise manager. “To address this challenge, we are developing new strategies to bring customers in stores for food and drinks rather than just fuel.”

In 2018, the Exchange’s convenience and specialty business, including gas, represented 35% of the Exchange’s revenue, with more than $3 billion in sales. Growing Express sales remains a priority for the organization.

To drive shoppers into the Expresses, the Exchange is experimenting with giveaways, product samples and promotions, which started last month and lasts through December, at the 250 Express stores where fuel is sold.

Promotions include:

  • Friday happy hours where shoppers receive a free drink with an in-store purchase from 2-6 p.m.
  • Nabisco November sweepstakes awarding $20 worth of snacks to weekly winners. To enter, shoppers filled out forms in the stores.
  • Free fuel Fridays in December gives shoppers a chance to win an Exchange gift card if they fill out a form in-store.

To turn drivers into in-store shoppers, promotional signage on gas pumps and Express windows as well as Exchange social media channels let customers know about deals and giveaways.

Shift Manager Paul Genschorck got the Soldier inside the store to pick up his gift card for free gas on Fridays at a Fort Riley Express.

Numbers are being tracked closely to see if these efforts are resulting in more in-store purchases. Feedback from customers indicates that they are enjoying the samples and happy hour.

“The goal of these promotions is to create a loyal local community that will continue shopping in the stores after these specials conclude,” said Eric Sidman, vice president of convenience channel merchandising. “We believe that when customers see all that Expresses have to offer, they’ll keep coming back.”

Arens said that on a local level, Express stores can use social media and product sampling to generate excitement and increase foot traffic.

Future promotions will be considered based on their success. As for long-term plans to make Expresses more appealing to customers fueling up, associates can expect to see more popular quick-serve restaurants in Express stores, such as Hunt Brothers Pizza, J. Walken Chicken and Austin Blues Bar-B-Que.

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