2018 Convenience Store Trends in Prepaid

We break down some game-changing trends to look for in the convenience channel this year.

Date:Jan. 29, 2018

The role of the convenience store has changed drastically over the past few years. Because of the growth of digital and the evolution of consumer expectations, convenience stores have grown beyond just being a spot to grab gas and a snack during a road trip.


Convenience stores are now a destination, a one-stop shop where consumers can cross several items off their to-do lists in one trip.


The evolution isn't over. Convenience stores have the flexibility and versatility to continue to adapt to the needs of their customers by offering more solutions and products. Through conversations with our partners, data analysis and old-fashioned experience, we have painted a picture of the emerging trends in prepaid for the convenience channel in the coming year:




Growing gift card products

Gift cards were as popular as ever in 2017, and we expect that to continue into 2018. They still offer the convenience and versatility consumers have come to count on. But the biggest, and most exciting way gift cards have evolved recently has been in the types of gift cards stores can offer. It isn't just restaurants and department stores. Now consumers can find gift cards for new, popular services like ride-sharing apps and streaming entertainment channels.


These new categories have added even more assortment to what convenience stores can offer, and consumers have taken notice. They are quickly becoming some of the most popular cards available, and stores would be wise to keep them in stock.




Enhancing category management

It isn't enough to just have the right prepaid products in stock. Convenience stores need to present them in a way that makes them easy for consumers to find. We regularly work with our convenience store partners to make sure their prepaid products are displayed effectively and consistently. This requires ongoing maintenance and analysis, all of which often result in increased sales.


As convenience stores expand their prepaid assortment in 2018, category management will become even more important. Customers will be thankful they don't have to look hard to find exactly what they need.




Embracing the digital side

Convenience stores that are solely focused on door swings and consumers pulling prepaid cards off pegs are missing a large opportunity. Exploring and embracing the digital side of retail creates new opportunities to drive both loyalty and revenue. For example, stores that allow customers to redeem points in store, on an app or website are continuing to capture their customers' attention once they've left the store. Additionally, a positive digital experience encourages additional in-store experiences.


A more robust digital side also enables convenience stores to offer products like experiences or travel opportunities that are not, or can't be, in store.


We've seen more interest and adoption of this side of retail in the past year, but many stores are still missing out. The benefits of a digital loyalty-driven prepaid program will travel fast and result in a significant shift in the convenience channel.




Improving fraud prevention

One of the most important and encouraging convenience trends in the past year has been an increased focus on fraud prevention.  InComm arms its partners with the best fraud prevention technology and information in the industry, resulting in significant decreases in fraudulent instances and losses from fraud.


More stores are taking the necessary steps to combat fraud, and partnering with us to help, saving them valuable revenue in the process. With this attention, we expect to see additional decreases in fraud events among our partners next year.




Driving consumer loyalty

Many of the largest and most popular convenience stores are relying on programs that drive loyalty by utilizing prepaid cards to keep customers coming back. These programs come in many forms – buy a card, get a $10 card free; buy a card, receive more loyalty points; free reloads to loyalty members; and more.


We have seen many of our retail partners leverage these kinds of programs to drive foot traffic and revenue during non-peak shopping seasons.


What new strategies can you use in your prepaid program next year to generate additional revenue for your convenience store? Need ideas? Our InComm account team will be happy to assist.