Get Customers From the Forecourt Into Store

It’s all about the messaging and how it grabs the customer attention.

July 07, 2022

Rutter's Forecourt Advertising Messaging

By Sara Counihan

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—A recent NACS survey found that traffic and sales inside c-stores are down, but there are ways retailers can overcome these challenges, particularly around communications.

According to Rick Sales, president of Abierto Network, a digital and engagement solutions company, c-store retailers have a well-defined process for communicating with customers inside the store, and most retailers have a good understanding of how they’re going to help that consumer through their shopping journey. However, when customers are outside on the forecourt, it’s like they’re on “another planet”.

“How do I change the medium and how do I change the message to achieve the desired result in a world where I have a more distracted consumer that I need to convey more to?” said Sales on this week’s NACS Convenience Matters podcast episode.

Sales indicated that customers are distracted while fueling up, so the messages they receive need to be large and simple to understand with clear calls to action. Common promotions, such as two for $2, aren’t enough to get customers through the door because those types of deals are available everywhere, he said.

Chris Hartman, senior director of fuels, forecourt, advertising and construction at Rutter’s, said that they ask specific questions when choosing what messaging they’ll use to drive the customer from the fuel pump into the store.

“You have to say, who am I trying to market to? What am I trying to market to them? And then, what do they want to hear and see? We really focus on those keys for our market to get our message across of the new products that we have, the core products that we have,” said Hartman.

With gas prices at historic highs, customers are seeking the least expensive place to fill up. So what keeps customers coming to a c-store because of what they offer inside the store despite high gas prices? Sales says the “secret sauce” to loyal consumers today is brand messaging. It’s what’s going to create an emotional connection that will bridge the gap of price.

Abierto offers window signs that allows retailers to “daypart” the window. These digital displays are made of flexible, transparent, adhesive LED panels and it can be applied to a window from the inside to create an exterior image.

“Traditionally in the past, you would send people to merchandise different messages. Today, automation can handle that distribution of messaging so your people can focus on being creative and thinking about the right brand message as compared to putting up the right message at the right time,” said Sales.

Rutter’s uses Abierto’s technology and has a message on the forecourt that says, “Our beer is at 29 degrees.”

“A simple message that speaks volumes about what’s going on inside the store. It tells you I have a beer cave, which means I have a variety of beers, including potentially your beer in cans and bottles and all sorts of different choices,” said Sales.

Listen to this week’s NACS Convenience Matters podcast episode “How to Drive Sales With Forecourt Communications,” to hear more about how Rutter’s is utilizing messaging to get people in the store and what tactics they’re using to live up to their motto of “Why go anywhere else?”

Sara Counihan is contributing editor of NACS Magazine and NACS Daily. She can be reached at