oot traffic is the lifeblood of a convenience store. Increasing retail sales comes down to attracting new customers, keeping repeat customers loyal, and ensuring a good experience every time that bell rings on the door. Here's a look at the nine core tips for boosting retail revenue at every convenience store.
Some convenience stores stagnate because locals have learned that they can't find what they need. Buying habits have changed considerably within the past five years. Some updated items to consider include:
Unfortunately, c-store owners can't know what customers "aren't buying" because they can't find it. Consider a strategy of having staff members keep logs of products that are requested by patrons. Items that get repetitive hits should be considered as new products.
Give customers reasons to come in by offering "adventure sections." The goal here is to put multiple items that a person might buy in one cluster to increase the likelihood of a multiple-item sale. This can include a section for grabbing essentials on the way home from work, stocking up on snacks and road accessories for road trips, or satisfying a sweet tooth with fizzy drinks and sugary snacks.
A neat coffee station with clearly marked items is important for getting recurrent traffic. Coffee should always be hot and fresh. In addition, customers want to see milk and creamer as cold as possible.
Customers have grown accustomed to dealing with cashiers and store workers who simply "don't want to be there." That's why it's so refreshing when they encounter employees who are friendly, available, and motivated to help. Many stores simply don't train their staff members properly. This creates a disconnected, disjointed work environment that transfers to the employee-customer experience. Store owners should view investments in employees as investments in retail revenue. Thorough training that makes employees feel like part of the team is important. In addition, store owners should do their best to attract quality by beating the pay rate of other competitors in town.
Acquiring new customers costs 5 to 10 times more than selling to a current customer — and current customers spend 67% more on average than those who are new to your business," according to Business.com.
There are a few ways to create customer loyalty to increase c-store revenues. As highlighted in the step above, investing in creating helpful, empowered employees is one of the big steps. Nobody wants to come back to a store where they feel like they are bothering the staff. In addition, creating a membership program can be incredibly effective for generating repeated foot traffic. Incentives that provide free products or discounts after a certain number of purchases can work beautifully for making sure one store is the preferred store for a person who drops by daily for a specific soda or snack. Getting someone in the door for a daily "fix" on the way to or from work is also likely to create auxiliary sales for lottery tickets, toiletries, road needs, and more.
Driving by the same store day after day without stopping in can become a habit if a reason for stopping isn't triggered. While locals may see a store every day, they might not notice it without help from some local advertising. Buying local advertising space can be important for letting the public know that a "little store" is alive. Sponsoring local events, causes, or teams can also be great for infusing some local energy into a store.
This is one of the best ways to passively draw foot traffic to a convenience store. It's essential to make sure that a store shows up on Google Maps when users search for local businesses. All it takes is updating store information using Google My Business. Store owners just need to be prepared to verify store addresses after receiving a verification PIN. Being featured on Google Maps for free puts small convenience stores at the same visibility level as major retailers when customers look online.
Too many convenience store owners leave the deals to the big-box retailers without realizing that they can also tap into the power of bargain hunting. A sign with a discount offer should be prominently placed on the property of a convenience store every single day. Swap out deals every one to four days to keep repeat customers coming back for new opportunities. Choose milk, yogurt, energy drinks, and other "essentials" for discounts to convert "grocery store" customers.
Social media is a great tool for building a local brand. Showing off products, reminding locals to stop in for a breakfast pastry and coffee, and highlighting staff members can all be great ways to generate engagement. Local group pages are great spots for posting about specials.
Good reviews matter. There's no shame in asking real customers to post reviews online. In fact, reviews that are posted on Yelp, Google, Facebook, Foursquare, and other sites pop up instantly once a business name is searched. One easy way to get reviews quickly is to offer a "free doughnut" in exchange for a review.
Boosting online reviews isn't just about getting customers to create new positive reviews. C-store owners also need to focus on resolving organic poor reviews. Respond quickly without allowing a review to go ignored. Most customers will reverse or update reviews once they know that a store owner is willing to make things right. It's important to use a human, personalized approach.
The concept of convenience is based on the experience that a customer has. If customers feel like they are fighting back against obstacles just to get what they need during a quick in-and-out trip, they are unlikely to return. A few tweaks can increase foot traffic, keep locals loyal, and allow the power of the Internet to draw in more customers.