Recent studies reveal that consumers are purchasing more food from gas station c-stores than they did 4 years ago, driving additional revenue for gas station owners.
Americans love a quick bite. Pizzas, wraps, fries and hot dogs have become major parts of the American diet. And while quick service restaurants have traditionally been the go-to spots for most Americans for their fetch-and-munch adventures, gas station c-stores seem to be catching up in popularity with their more established food serving counterparts.
The Quick Bite Rush at Gas Station Convenience Stores—In Numbers!
According to one study, American consumers spent more than $54.3 billion on c-store food service in 2018. Compared to 2014, that’s almost a twenty-eight percent increase, which is quite significant for an industry that primarily sells fuel and fuel products.
People aged between 18 and 44 years are the largest demographic group driving this trend. They purchase food at convenience stores more frequently than people from other age groups. To elaborate, twenty percent of those aged between 18 and 29 purchase food from c-stores 3–4 times per month, while twenty-five percent of those aged between 30 and 44 purchase food at convenience stores 5 or more times per month.
So what’s causing this quick bite rush at gas station convenience stores?
The Quick Bite Rush—Explained!
Data shows that the main reason consumers are choosing convenience stores over quick service restaurants is convenience. Gas station convenience stores serve as an all-in-one stop for fuel customers, allowing them to shop for both fuel and food under one roof.
The quick bite rush can also be explained by the varied food menu offered by gas station convenience stores.
Unlike fast food restaurants, gas station convenience stores serve more than one type of cuisine to customers. This allows the customers to enjoy a more varied menu and order whatever they might want to eat.
What do American consumers usually order at gas station convenience stores?
Most Popular Food Items at Gas Station Convenience Stores
According to a study from GasBuddy, following food items generate most sales at gas station convenience stores:
Wraps or sandwiches
Burger and fries
So, is your gas station taking advantage of the quick bite rush?
As the October 2020 EMV liability shift at the pump draws near, the cost of not taking action grows clear.
No other industry has as many unattended outdoor payment terminals as we do in the convenience store and petroleum industry in the U.S. There isn’t even a close second.
This becomes increasingly relevant to the data security conversation as the payments technology and security landscape continues to evolve. Outdoor payment terminals are steadily increasing in value as a tool used by the criminal underworld.
The October 2015 inside Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) liability shift in the U.S. moved a material percentage of retail payment card transactions from traditional magnetic stripe swipe to inserted, chip-card read. While attackers moved to exploit chip where they could, through techniques like swipe fallback, the retail shift to chip added cost, complexity and reduced feasibility for the criminal hacking groups and gangs who perpetrate most of the large-scale payment-card breaches.
That’s not to imply that inside EMV solves the payment card data security problem. In most cases, payment terminals are just as susceptible to a costly compromise as before EMV. Typical breach methods like memory scraping point-of-sale (POS) malware remain a threat, and the data captured in such an attack remains valuable, even from a chipped card. Really, the biggest shift in the move to inside chip is that your outlet becomes less attractive for criminal syndicates to perpetrate the final step of the payment-card data-breach fraud — actually spending the money or using the compromised account to buy goods or services to then sell or trade for cash.
That said, today, few of us have fully-operational EMV-capable payment-card terminals at the pump. Many of us have some sites and lanes with chip-capable hardware, but few retailers and payment networks are conducting an actual chip-card read at the fuel island.
The EMV liability shift at the fuel island currently stands at October 2020 and is unlikely to be extended further. Until the liability shift actually takes effect, so long as we follow current acceptance rules (things like not authorizing over allowed limits), we’re largely protected from stolen account numbers being used for purchases at our outdoor payment terminals.
This conceals the reality that our c-store sites are seeing higher incidences of stolen or breached payment cards being used for fuel purchases. Thieves are finding more obstacles at their traditional outlets, which have fully converted to chip-card acceptance, so the non-EMV-accepting fuel dispensers have increased in value to them. Because the issuing banks behind the stolen cards being used are bearing the cost of most of this fraud, we are often blind to it — even as it rises steadily.
This sets us up for a troublesome late 2020. Those who do not make the necessary investments in chip-accepting hardware at the fuel island, as well as those who have, but whose POS and payment processing partners have not, will find a shock in November 2020 as they bear the full burden of payment-card fraud at the fuel island for the first time.
What’s A Retailer To Do?
If you are branded, ask your fuel brand what your options are and what the current state of their technology programs are when it comes to EMV at the pump.
Talk to your POS software and hardware providers to determine dispenser EMV options and when they will be ready.
Talk to your dispenser partners about your specific dispensers and what your specific options are.
Talk to your payment-card processors about your specific technology mix and when they will be ready for your specific setup.
Talk to Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. If you do not have an assigned representative from each payment brand, ask your payment-card processor to put you in touch.
Ask each payment brand to share the burden of Automated Fuel Dispenser (AFD) fraud at your sites for the past year. Normally, you do not see this data, as you didn’t bear the burden of it, but they have it and are generally able to provide it.
Use all of the above to apply pressure where needed to get various stakeholders to get you ready in time. Also use it to build your business case and ROI needed to fund the necessary investments to be prepared.
Do you have further questions about EMV capable and compatible equipment for your customer’s forecourt and in-store transactions? Give us a call at 1.800.451.4021!
The John W. Kennedy Company appreciates your business and continued support!
NOTE: While the Shop By Image (here forward, referred to as “SBI”) feature will work on a smartphone or tablet, you do not get the full dynamic experience as you would on a desktop or laptop with a mouse. The one caveat to anything online is trying to create a unified experience across all browsers and platforms but that is just not realistic. Basic browser functionality and common code found throughout the web does not always translate the same on all devices and browsers as well as the fact that not everyone sets up their devices and browsers the same.
For nearly 2 decades the Kennedy Company has quietly worked to provide some of the most unique dynamic online solutions for our customers that make identifying and ordering/reordering equipment, parts and accessories much easier and quicker. We have created everything from customer specific online gas station configuration tools that provided complete quotes in seconds, real-time online equipment tracking solutions to image-driven point and click reorder solutions.
…And as the saying goes, a picture IS worth a thousand words so now we’d like to bring some of these dynamic solutions in to the light by incorporating our SBI feature, not only in to our web store but throughout our online presence and digital marketing materials that will allow you to scroll across an image to click on the highlighted portions to go directly to a single specific product or a category of products in our web store. As you scroll around an image to discover links, you will also notice as you “hover” your mouse over one of those clickable portions of the graphic, you will get a part number and description of what it is you are hovering over (this “hover” feature may not work in all browsers).
Our first SBI example was recently sent to us from our friends at Omntec. It was just part of their regular email marketing campaign and we just thought it was a great opportunity to see how quickly we could manipulate the graphic into our SBI format. This type of generalized graphic is great for pointing people in the right direction for general products within multiple product categories. Many of the products within the various product categories shown in this graphic are still being loaded to our site (a very manual process) but you will find a representation from each category as you scroll around the graphic and click on the choices (some will bring you to specific products).
Morrison Brothers provides some of the best layouts to quickly assess how to dress typical variations of aboveground tanks. In this example, we use Morrison Brothers’ horizontal aboveground tank suction system layout graphic. As you scroll around the image, you’ll find you can click on just about anything to see your product choices and options. Definitely keep your eyes open for more Morrison Brothers’ AST layout SBI’s as we have 3 more currently in the works and we have had specific requests to get these online as they get referenced often!
Fairfield Industries is our example for using exploded view “parts breakdown” diagrams for SBI. Everything you can click on in this diagram goes to a specific part for this specific model of Fairfield Industries’ 5 gallon double wall spill bucket. The only components in the graphic you can’t click on are numbers 11 and 12 as we do not currently have these loaded into our system. Here is where SBI can be most useful for the many variations within a product model where the differences are very slight yet extremely significant so NOT getting it right the first time can be costly in both time and money! Look for more and more of these SBI’s as we acquire more parts breakdown diagrams.
This brings us to where the idea of Shop By Image came from. It goes back to around the year 2000 when a major player was looking to move into the area and was acquiring a great number of stations. Not being from this area, they would have had to send people into the New England region to check out every location. At the time, when John W. Kennedy, III heard of the dilemma, we sat down to hash out a solution where we could survey each location for the customer and build a database of those locations, what equipment was at each one and the serial numbers of the pertinent equipment the customer wanted uniquely identified for each location.
It was significant number of locations and for a few months, we sent a tech out with a camera and survey sheets (no smartphones or tablets back then and laptops cost a fortune). The photos would get uploaded to our website and a database was created to store all the information from the survey forms and the reference links for each location’s photos. When it was all put together, the customer would go to a web page, see an image of each location along with its current name and address. They could then click on a location, see various images from the islands (like you see below), ATG, POS, etc. As they scrolled over portions of the image, it identified the piece of equipment, it’s configuration and serial number.
The customer was very pleased as there was enough information for them to assess the worthiness of a location remotely without having to spend a ton of time and money to send one of their own people in to survey all the locations. It was done much quicker than the customer anticipated as well. And so the idea of Shop By Image was born (we didn’t know that at the time of course). Until now, it has only been used for special projects. With eCommerce exploding, SBI is a natural progression to where the online shopping experience is headed. Below is the first gas station we applied this approach to. We have substituted links in a few places for equipment that is no longer available such as the older canopy lights and the particular configuration of Gilbarco dispensers at the location. It isn’t the highest quality image as this was taken more than a decade ago when digital photo technology was just beginning to come into its own so the quality was hampered by the technology of the day. This example also shows how SBI’s from a single location can be combined to create a detailed “SBI Catalog”of equipment and associated replacement parts and/or accessories. See what happens when you click on one of the dispensers!
These two dispenser examples are part of the above gas station example and are actual images of both different model dispensers from this specific location. Again, the previous station example has been restructured for the purpose of this blog post. In the above example, when this was first designed, if you clicked on one of the dispensers, you would be taken to a page of just the dispenser model to shop from. And while vapor vac is not as relevant as it once was, we kept all the original links in place as we still offer all the linked products through our site at this time. Give it a go!
As we have come to find out with computer technology, images and the web, anything in a photo or graphic can be isolated for identification to provide the details and a much easier path to purchase. This solution has not made it to prime time on our web store yet as we are working with our developer to work out the integration at this time. If there is enough interest in SBI, we plan to integrate the approach into more areas of the Kennedy Company’s digital world to make your online ordering experience with the Kennedy Company as simple as possible.
And as always, we invite you to contact us at 1.800.238.1225 with any questions or feedback on the SBIfeature, our web store and the available products you find. And if you don’t find, we may still be able to get what you need or point you to someone who can. You can also drop us an email using our contact form. The John W. Kennedy Company appreciates your business and continued support!