Pump-top promotions are great for taking a customer’s attention away from the high price of the fuel they’re pumping and onto a value-for-money product that they just can’t live without. Okay, that last part might be pushing the point a bit too much, but there’s no doubting these promotional items are popular, as DSL reports that some of its best customers are turning over £40,000 a year on pump-top promotions. Roy Landa, director of DSL, says that some lines out-perform even their own best expectations: "A good example is our recent car dash cam which has done extremely well, selling over 150,000 units in the past few months."

Asiffa Gadatra, sales director at Spot Promotions, says sales success comes from the ’captive audience’ as customers have nothing to do while filling their vehicles other than look at the pump crowners in front of them. "There are very few petrol stations that do not display some sort of pump-top promotion. We’ve been in the business since 2001 and the demand hasn’t diminished one bit in that time," she explains. And she adds that customer perception of the pump-top promotion market has changed as the market has evolved. "In the past the general opinion was that anything bought from a petrol station promotion would be poor quality, but this is changing as the quality of products has improved. We always strive to provide items that are desirable and of a decent quality at an attractive price."

DSL takes credit for coming up with the original pump-top promotions concept some 30 years ago. "We select a range of high-quality, well-known branded products which we promote on a four-weekly basis. We offer all products on full sale or return and deliver all the necessary stock along with display solutions this includes point-of-sale material meaning all our clients need to do is remove the old promotion and replace with the new one every four weeks," explains Landa.

He says DSL has the largest pump-top promotions sales force in the UK, comprising 14 territory managers and three national account managers who between them visit all of its 3,500 accounts on a four-weekly basis. During these visits they merchandise the ranges, pick up any returns left over from the last promotion and arrange for these to be credited the next day.

DSL has 10 different ranges of offers running at any one time and the sales force suggests which range a site should take. "With 3,500 accounts this allows us to ensure that different groups’ sites near to each other will not be competing or offering the same product lines," explains Landa.

"We work with the retailer to decide what stock levels are required. We can normally judge this by looking at the average weekly fuel volumes sold after all it’s in nobody’s interest to be carrying too much stock as it takes up unnecessary shop space and will get returned at the end of the promotion. That’s because the products are provided risk free to retailers as everything is supplied on a sale or return basis coupled with a ’no quibble’ customer product guarantee."

Big names

Link-ups with big names such as the AA, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Foster Grants and Spear & Jackson mean products are eye-catching and Landa says they allow his firm to keep ahead of the game.

"All of our ranges are trialled in up to 10 sites prior to any national roll out. This allows us to check average sales volumes and product quality, and ensure that our sales material is spot on prior to any national launch."

Some products’ success, such as the dash cams, can take the firm by surprise but even that’s not an issue. "We had a small transport company go into one of our client’s sites and purchase all of their stock of dash cams to give to each of their drivers. But our next day delivery service meant the client was re-stocked the following day."

Landa says they’ve received some great feedback from the end users, many of whom want to re-purchase products that have been on promotion in previous months for their friends and families.

His advice to retailers is to put new promotions out on the day they arrive. "They should ensure the pump crowners are changed and that the in-store display units are in a prominent position. This allows the customer to read the offer when they are filling up at the pump and gives them a few seconds to decide, on impulse, what they would like to purchase. This is then reinforced in-store when they can see the products in and around the till area while they are at the till point."

Gadatra agrees: "Retailers need to make sure that the pump crowners are in good condition, clearly visible and that any in-store pos material is well-positioned. These are impulse buys so having the current products on display at the counter is always a good way to encourage sales."

At Spot, they too have their own staff who deliver the promotions to forecourts, change the pump crowners and any other display materials and collect any returns from the previous promotion.

The offers normally run on a five-week cycle, but this is sometimes adapted to suit a particular group’s needs.

Like DSL, Spot is doing well with small techie items such as dash cams, selfie sticks, VR glasses and action cameras.

"Retailers get a fixed percentage profit margin of 35%. There is no financial risk," explains Gadatra, "as promotions are on a sale or return basis and we provide all pos material.

"We collect any returns from the previous promotion when delivering the next, so there is minimal stockholding. We deliver in manageable quantities so a site doesn’t have to allocate much space to stock, and if a product is selling particularly well it is simple to re-order by just phoning or emailing us we send the order out the same day by courier if ordered before 2pm."

Fast Trak, which has been established now for 12 years, considers itself to be an innovative pump-top promotion company, indeed managing director Asif Ayub says the firm was the first to introduce ecigs to forecourt retailers and these have become one of its biggest- selling products.

"Our current offering has all the elements forecourts need to run a successful non-food range from new and innovative products on a month-to-month basis, to regular products which sell all year round," says Ayub. Fast Trak’s regular range includes car chargers, car accessories, Flava car scents, e-liquids and e-cigarettes. "Our margins are high from 35% profit on return up to 60% on our e-liquid range. We carry recognised, well-established brands including Ev8, Vapouriz and Debang e-liquid."

The company currently has seven merchandisers across the UK servicing over 1,000 stores per month.

"Our USP is our floor stand which can hold our regular range and new promotions on three shelves. Our pump crowners are also bigger and this allows us to produce three-way, four-way, five-way and six-way pump crowners without losing impact.

"The big winners for us so far this year have been technology based products such as dash cams and VR googles. We have lots of other tech-based products being released in the months up to Christmas."

Fast Trak customers can choose to have between three and six promotions. Every five weeks they receive an email with details of the forthcoming deals. "If they have any clashes they have a chance to change to an alternative product," says Ayub. "Our merchandiser will deliver the stock and uplift any unsold stock at the same time allowing the retailer to receive their credit as quickly as possible. We don’t have a 60-day returns policy and we don’t use distributors so we can control our returns better."

With the Pound shops and bargain stores now firmly established in most towns and cities one might think it’s harder for pump-top promotion suppliers to compete, but Landa says that’s not the case as they always try and stay ahead of the market and won’t compromise on quality. "You may see products that look similar in some of these shops but they are often of an inferior quality."

Meanwhile, Gadatra is adamant that it’s a different market, so not a problem. "We are in the impulse purchase market, to tempt customers into buying a product they may not have thought of buying, whereas this isn’t necessarily the case with bargain and Pound shops. We’re also trying to increase the amount the customer spends by offering a better quality product, rather than produce something that can be bought for £1 or less. For example, the most successful promotions tend to be in the £3.99 to £9.99 price ranges."

Retailer view

Nick Powell, category manager, Moto:
"We currently have DSL offers running in 44 of our forecourt shops and 51 main amenity building retail shops. Our non-food offers are driven by impulse purchasing and DSL gives us a very strong, value-driven offer which is great.
"We rely heavily on DSL to have tested new lines, so we are offering products that are proven sellers. The offers run for four-to-eight weeks at a time so they need to be strong, especially at key holiday times like now.
"DSL promotions feature in seasonal FSDUs, on the shopfloor and at the counter. The majority come in pre-filled units so handling stock is easy and there’s a fast turnaround for re-orders of 48 hours.
"The use of pump-top advertising material has a major impact on our forecourt shop sales, as it allows us to engage with customers for several minutes before they even enter the store a big factor in an environment of fast transactions and low dwell time"

MAKING POS work for you

It’s not only pump-top promotion pos material that can be effective on the forecourt. According to Debra Jamieson, sales and marketing director of UK POS, things like flags are great for showcasing what’s inside the store and letting people know who, what and where you are. And positioning is important: "People often won’t be aware of your offers if they can’t see your pos. Placing a pavement sign or flag slightly outside the forecourt on the pavement can achieve great results by attracting people who’re driving by.
"Forecourts definitely need to invest in pavement signs to help grab the attention of passing trade. Our WPG7 pavement sign is great for forecourts as the water base adds stability through unpredictable weather but it’s still easy to move around."
Jamieson adds that outdoor seasonal promotions such as packs of de-icer or charcoal can benefit from a show card stand or pallet cardholder. "Again, these are items and offers people won’t always know you have without pos."
Jamieson also reckons it’s important that forecourt retailers have the facility to make their own pos. "When the weather is bad, sales might see a drop, so being able to print your own pos for a spur of the moment offer to boost sales is important. You need to be able to create timely offers."