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Attract More Customers by Offering EBT & eWIC

The issuance and redemption of these benefits are at an all-time high.
6/21/2023

Electronic benefits transfer (EBT) is an electronic system used by state welfare departments in the United States to distribute benefits through magnetically encoded payment cards.

EBT provides food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and cash benefits for general assistance. EBT has become the primary method for issuing SNAP benefits by replacing the paper stamp system.

eWIC is specifically designed for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, while EBT is used for various government assistance programs, including food stamps.

Both EBT and eWIC are electronic benefits transfer systems for purchasing approved food items at authorized retailers. Participants receive a card with their benefit information, which they swipe at a store's point-of-sale system. The system deducts the cost of approved items from the participant's benefit balance.

The Advantages of eWIC for Independent Gas Stations

eWIC offers several benefits for independent gas stations participating in the WIC program. Firstly, it provides convenience and efficiency for WIC participants, enabling faster purchasing at the register. Secondly, it eliminates the need for manual recording and vendor stamping, streamlining the transaction process.

Additionally, eWIC ensures that participants only purchase allowed foods by adhering to the Approved Product List (APL). Moreover, eWIC significantly reduces returned and canceled checks, benefiting participants and retailers by minimizing administrative burdens and associated costs.

Overall, eWIC enhances the shopping experience for WIC participants while supporting independent gas stations in effectively serving their customers.

The Advantages of EBT for Independent Gas Stations

One key advantage of EBT is that it provides a discretionary amount for food purchases based on household income, enabling participants to buy items directly from retailers, including independent gas stations.

Accepting EBT cards as a means of payment offers convenience for customers and retailers, similar to debit or credit cards. This enhances customer service and facilitates streamlined transactions at gas stations.

By accepting EBT, independent gas stations can attract a broader customer base and provide a more inclusive shopping experience for individuals receiving government assistance.

Compliance & Legal Considerations

Compliance with EBT and eWIC regulations and guidelines is crucial. To maintain compliance, retailers should educate their staff on proper transaction procedures and guidelines.

One key aspect to emphasize is that charging sales tax, surcharges or card processing fees from an EBT SNAP account is strictly prohibited by law. Other best practices to ensure compliance with the regulations and guidelines are:

  • Apply and meet federal standards and guidelines to participate in the EBT program.
  • Educate your staff on EBT transaction procedures and compliance.
  • Ensure that the items sold are approved and labeled adequately for EBT purchases.
  • Regularly review state-specific laws to ensure compliance with EBT regulations.
  • Ensure timely and accurate issuance of benefits to certified eligible households, including EBT system compliance with the state agency responsible for EBT issuance.
  • Ensure your store is eWIC capable of permitting electronic access to WIC food benefits using a plastic card.

Integrating eWIC and EBT into a store's point-of-sale (POS) system is a valuable strategy that can bring numerous benefits and contribute to the success of independent gas stations in today's market. The issuance and redemption of eWIC and EBT benefits are at an all-time high, highlighting the significance of having a fully integrated POS system.

With over 42 million people in the U.S. using the EBT program, a grocery, convenience store or gas station minimart could be missing out if it doesn’t consider the value of offering EBT, especially at this time when the demand is so high.

Accepting EBT not only provides an opportunity for merchants to increase revenue, but also attracts more foot traffic and boosts overall sales. By offering eWIC and EBT, independent gas stations can serve a broader customer base and enhance their shopping experience.

Elie Y. Katz is founder, president and CEO of National Retail Solutions (NRS), a provider of intuitive point-of-sale systems custom built for independent retailers across the United States. Since 2015, he has brought his many years of experience as an executive at various companies in diverse industries, plus strong leadership, interpersonal and organizational skills, to lead NRS. He also manages real estate properties and food establishments.

Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.  

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