6 Features Your C-Store App Must Have

Did you know that c-store apps are the 4th most visited e-commerce apps across the board? 

That’s right. And it’s likely due to the industry’s large number of stores and high frequency of foot traffic. After all, c-stores often see the same customers in the morning and afternoon, sometimes even coming back again for dinner. 

This puts c-stores in a unique position to connect with consumers — a position even better than grocery stores who usually only see customers once a week. 

So, without apps, consumers already enjoy shopping at c-stores. But when you introduce an app for them to use to shop at your store, you make shopping even easier for them. And the easier your app makes shopping for them, the more they want to buy from you.

That said, it’s not enough to just create an app, slap your name on it, and call it a day. There are certain features your c-store app must have to remain competitive. But many c-store apps are falling short, with 56% lacking any digital capabilities to support critical features like contactless payments, online ordering, or loyalty reward tracking. 

If your app falls into that camp or if you’re still trying to figure out what to include in your app, this guide is for you.  

The 6 features every c-store app must have

When it comes to what consumers expect from your app, it’s all about convenience. So you want to include content that results in an easier and faster shopping experience. Let’s check it out. 

1. Loyalty rewards tracking


Image credit: Mindgrub

Loyalty rewards tracking is an effective feature to incorporate into your app because 50% of consumers rank mobile loyalty programs as the #1 most important technology. 

Why would consumers rank mobile loyalty so high? Mostly because of convenience. After all, an app that tracks points and rewards is infinitely more convenient than any other system. 

Consumers don’t have to carry around a punch card or fumble through their key chain at the checkout. And they don’t have to visit a website to look up points or remember to bring a paper coupon with them to get their free coffee. 

And according to data from Hathway, consumers want to be rewarded during all aspects of the c-store experience — fuel, retail, food, even carwash. In fact, Hathway’s data shows that nearly 51% of c-store shoppers want more ways to earn rewards points. 

A good example of a c-store chain that’s getting this right is Royal Farms. Their app includes a scannable rewards card that allows customers to earn or redeem points at the checkout using just their phone. 

And as you can see in the image above, it keeps track of everything in a user-friendly way — from a digital punch card system to showing progress towards specific offers. All this combines to make their loyalty program easy and convenient for customers. 

2. Foodservice menus and online ordering

Image credit: Wawa

Since the beginning of the pandemic, online foodservice orders have skyrocketed in the c-store channel. And what started as a safety precaution has since continued out of sheer convenience. 

After all, it’s much faster to order ahead through an app as opposed to trudging through the store, standing in line to order, and then standing in line to pay. 

That said, some c-store retailers were ahead of the game and already had mobile ordering in place before the pandemic. Wawa is a good example of this, launching mobile ordering on its app way back in 2017 in the name of convenience. 

Jim Morey, Wawa’s executive vice president, said at the time of the launch, "We recognize that our customers are increasingly busy and constantly on-the-go, and by offering mobile ordering, we will be able to offer a convenience that allows our customers to order wherever they are, at any time they want." 

Meanwhile, others have been playing catch up, adding the capability to their apps to meet the burgeoning demand for contactless services during COVID-19. 

Kum & Go, for example, just added mobile ordering to their app in the summer of 2021 — including a variety of Kum & Go staples like breakfast pizza, coffee, soda, beer, and more. 

Customers can receive their orders car-side as they fill up, or grab and go at the front of the store. And Kum & Go promoted the launch by offering 25 cents off per gallon for customers who made a mobile order within the first month. 

3. Biometric login 

Image credit: Progress.com

Supporting biometric login on your app is another feature that makes it easier and more convenient to use. Customers don’t need to remember usernames and passwords, they can just sign in using Face ID or Touch ID. 

If you’re able to include biometrics on your app, Apple suggests setting it as the default and letting people opt-out instead of the other way around. This makes it easier and faster for the majority of users to get started. 

And speaking of getting started, Apple recommends delaying login as long as possible when people first download your app, biometric or otherwise. People often abandon apps when they're forced to sign in before doing anything useful. 

So you want to give them a chance to use your app and feel the benefits before making a commitment to it. For example, you should let people browse and explore immediately upon launch, and require sign-in only when they're ready to make a purchase. 

Another option is to allow users to “sign in with Apple.” 7-Eleven’s app, for example, gives this option on the login screen as an alternative to creating a username and password — taking advantage of the biometric login already enabled on the device. 

4. Pump activation and fuel payment features

Image credit: VoiceBot AI

Features that improve convenience and safety at the pump are another must-have in your app. These can include things like mobile pump activation and payment so that customers don’t have to use or touch the keypad. 

A good example of this comes from Kum & Go. They added mobile fuel pay to their app in May 2020 in response to the pandemic. The feature allows loyalty members to activate the pump with their phones. The app then verifies credit card information and accepts payment. 

Here’s how it works: 

  • When the customer arrives at the pump, they open the Kum & Go app and select “fuel.” 
  • Then, the customer selects the pump number and follows the in-app prompts to begin fueling.
  • Once fueling is complete, customers pay directly on the app and earn loyalty points. 

"Let's be honest, no one gets joy from starting a pump. On a cold winter's day, the last thing you want to be doing is standing outside paying for gas," said Kum & Go’s President Tanner Krause

"Today, in our current moment, limiting common contact points is essential. So we created an app feature that significantly reduces the time to activate a pump and allows you to do most of it from the comfort of your vehicle. It’s the latest way Kum & Go is able to make your day better."

5. Scanning and self-checkout features

Image credit: Sheetz

Another major convenience you can offer customers within your app is the ability to scan items and checkout themselves. Not only does this save time by eliminating standing in line, but it allows customers to avoid contact with a cashier — something very valuable as COVID continues to circulate. 

A good example of this comes from Sheetz, who recently launched a new mobile checkout feature called, “SHcan & Go!”. This feature allows shoppers to scan and pay for products through the Sheetz app while minimizing the need for person-to-person interaction during the checkout process. 

“This new feature continues to deliver on our mission to be the ultimate in convenience, allowing customers to scan and pay for items they need easily and quickly,” said Travis Sheetz, president and COO. 

6. Contactless payment options

Image credit: C-Store Decisions

As with mobile ordering, expectations for contactless payment options have been accelerated by the pandemic. Customers don’t want to pull out their wallets anymore, they want to pay with their phones. 

So incorporating a contactless payment feature into your app is effective because it gives consumers what they want — a convenient and safe way to pay. 

Bindu Gupta, head of Loyalty Strategy Consulting, explains it this way: “Incorporating the payment functionality within a fuel retailer’s mobile app can help boost convenience store sales in addition to fuel purchases. This creates a friction-free experience and saves time for the customer which means more brand recognition and loyalty.”

7-Eleven has been leading the way in this department, adding a mobile wallet to their app in December 2020. The mobile wallet allows customers to pay using cash (loaded onto the app at the register), debit and credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and prepaid 7-Eleven gift cards. 

Running a c-store? See how Koupon helps c-stores drive more sales

Consumer behavior is evolving. And it’s challenging retailers to grow and adapt. At Koupon, we provide the technology you need to reach shoppers, attract them to your store, increase sales, create data-informed strategies, and drive digital impact.

No matter where you are in your digital transformation for your c-store, we have the solutions you need to grow. We can help you: 

  • Collaborate with CPG brands: Attract incremental promotion dollars, funded entirely by leading CPG brands. You can launch these promotions across your own channels and grow sales.
  • Drive shopper engagement: Reach new shoppers beyond your current loyal base and gain a greater share of wallet from existing customers. Digital promotions help increase basket size and drive store trips.
  • Simplify promotion execution: Don’t stress over the details. Our team takes care of it all, from offer set up to post-campaign analysis, and everything in between.
  • Make data-driven decisions: Evaluate consumer patterns across products, stores, and channels. We’ll help you use these insights to benchmark, adjust and launch strategic data-driven campaigns.

Our solutions grow with you. So whether you’re just getting started or fully accelerating, we can help. Get in touch to learn more