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    First Impressions Are Everything

    With 58% of business leaders expecting definite convenience industry growth in 2017[i], it is crucial that owners continue to uphold and enhance their c-store image. This will help you retain old customers, attract new ones, and boost sales in 2017.

    Improving Your Store Image

    One of the best ways to improve the way your store looks to customers is by engaging their senses on every level[ii]. From the outside, your store should be engaging customers visually. The signage, displays, or fuel prices should draw in potential customers. After they enter the store or engage the fuel pump the idea of what type of store you have should be reinforced. With clear branding, they should have a taste of what you are offering them. Be optimistic when interacting with customers, and encourage them to try new products or offer to help them find old ones. Make sure all items are aligned vertically on the shelves in complimentary categories. This is more appealing to the eye and will make customers more likely to walk through that section.

    You can also play upbeat music to set the mood for your shoppers and encourage them to buy products. You want to promote a calm and happy atmosphere, so make sure the volume is at an appropriate level. Also, try using different scents that can disburse throughout your store. Sweet scents help contribute to a peaceful and clean store, and may even encourage customers to buy different sweet products.

    Retaining Repeat Shoppers

    To keep sales consistent you will want to continue to offer the same great services to customers that have been loyal to your business. Continue to focus on the three main services that c-stores are known to provide: on-the-go snacks and beverages, tobacco products, and gasoline[iii]. Stay up-to-date with any changes in regulations, and make sure you keep your customers informed. This is a great way to improve your relationship with your customers, and win their trust. When you care about the products they want, it will be obvious to the customer.

    Another way to keep existing customers happy is by studying sale patterns, and developing offers and organization that aligns with their regular habits. Many customers buy the same products repeatedly, so analyzing sale patterns to keep these popular products stocked can ensure that no customer is disappointed. You can also encourage customers to try new products by offering samples. This is a low-cost way to intrigue, engage, advertise, and secure a sale. This is also a great way to attract new customers by marketing yourself as a store that lets customers try certain products before buying them.

    Attracting New Customers

    Most customers come to a convenience store for fuel, which makes it a consistent product that you can rely on to bring in customers. One of the most effective ways to draw in the gasoline consumers, and make them in-store shoppers is through low gas prices. Although you cannot always control the price in which you have to sell your fuel, always try to give your customer the best deal. Even a one or two cent difference from your competitor can win over customers. If you are not a gas retailer your outside signs and parking lot will be your biggest asset in drawing in shoppers.

    Your signs and promotions should be clean, easy-to-read, well-lit, and large. It is important that your customers will be able to read and understand your sign as they drive by. You should also be aware of how local environment will affect your business. By assessing the community around you, you will be able to identify which new products you should select for your store. While you may think all customers want the same thing, demands can change drastically depending on your location[iv]. Understanding what the customers in your area want is essential to selling new products and keeping sales high.

    Enhancing Your Business with Innovation

    The convenience store industry is fast paced, and constantly coming out with new technology. These ideas are created to help make it easier to run your store and to upgrade your customer's overall experience. “Innovation is a key competitive battleground in the food and beverage categories in convenience stores”[v]. Options such as in-store Wi-Fi, touchscreen monitors for food ordering, digital signage, self-serve checkout, and community targeted promotions are all options that will give your store a huge advantage over your competition. This will also transform the inside of your store creating variety and excitement. Take advantage of new flavors and product extensions, as these are simple things that change frequently and seasonally and are easy to implement into your store at any time.

    With these tips in mind, continue to strive for a successful c-store image that will draw in customers and ensure repeat business.