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    How the C-Store Owner Can Compete with Online Retailers

    We’ve all heard it before, “everything is going online”.  For store owners running business that relies on a physical store-front, this retail evolution can seem scary.  While the online world still can’t compete with the convenience that c-stores and local groceries provide, it’s still important for store owners to keep up with the ecommerce trend.  If you’re wondering how it’s possible to compete with those online giants that seem to be taking over, we’ve got ideas for you.

    • Get online!

    There’s no reason why even the smallest local stores can have an online presence.  Social media is yours for the taking.  Make sure you have created profiles for store on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  Social media is a great place to keep people updated about new products, store updates, hours you’re open, and more!  You could even use social media to attract new customers by creating targeted ads that appear for consumers in your area.  If you’re not interested in becoming an internet expert, there are plenty of individuals that could do this all for you relatively cheaply.

    Don’t forget about online reviews and location listings.  Make sure everything is up to date on your Google and Yelp listings to ensure you’re coming up in searches for people in your area.  By encouraging people to leave reviews on all of these sites, you’re also enhancing your store’s reputation.

    • Give them more reasons to come back

    There’s no better way to compete in any business, than to keep your customers happy. When customers are satisfied, they’re less likely to want to choose another business.

    Consider offering incentives for customer loyalty.  You could implement a loyalty program easily, and with not a lot of expense.  When customers feel that they are being reward for spending their money at your store, they feel more valued.

    • Try delivery

    Because the desire for convenience is always increasing, consumers are seeking out ways to avoid leaving their homes but still get the items they need when they need them.  You could offer delivery of your products by taking advantage of the grocery delivery businesses that already exist, or even hiring your own delivery person and taking product orders over the phone.

    • Go beyond the consumer products

    Yes, selling the typical items like snacks, candy, beverages, beer, and even tobacco is important to the success of your store, but you should also think about what other services you can offer.

    For example, consider offering prepaid and gift cards at your store, or even bill pay.  These kinds of solutions are ones that create repeat customers, make your store unique, and increase your average purchase amount.

    • Rely on speed and convenience

    The one thing you can offer as a c-store or local grocery store owner, is speed and convenience.  While online retailers can deliver, they can’t get items to consumers INSTANTLY.  By maintaining a convenient retail environment, you’re offering products NOW, not in a day or two.

    The customers looking for that milk for morning breakfast that they didn’t know they were out of.  The customers grabbing coffee because they’re running late for the office.  These are the customers you can always count on!

    • Get personal

    Get to know your customers.  The one thing consumers can’t get online is the personal touch of interacting with a human.  People in today’s retail environment still value being able to gain a positive personal interaction.  The small store is the perfect environment for this.  Learn their names, take notes on products they are looking for (and stock them), find out what they like about your store (or don’t like).

    Don’t believe the rumors, there are more opportunities for the brick-and-mortar store to compete with the Amazon’s of the world than you think.