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    Are the "Bells and Whistles" Worth It?

    C-store services have been developing increasingly fast over the last few years. Customers are expecting more, and now is the time to invest in money services that will benefit your shoppers, business, and community. “Convenience stores are intensely local businesses that offer an ever-growing range of products and services. Most of all, they sell convenience, allowing customers to quickly buy what they need and get on with their day”[i]. Although it may seem time consuming, most c-store extras are quick and easy to implement and can be a huge asset in running a successful store. Use these services to get the customers in the door and purchasing additional products.

    Money Services You Can Bank On

    One of the most beneficial services for customers is providing an easily accessible ATM machine. Research shows that ATM users are loyal c-store customers[ii]. One of our previous posts outlines and discusses the benefits of this great store addition. Along with bringing customers in, building your business reputation, increasing your income, and reducing card and check fees, ATMs can help open the door to other money services.

    Options like bill pay are becoming increasingly popular with the 40% of Americans who do not use a banking service[iii]. Many companies like goEBT offer the Bill Pay service free to their customers. With no initial set-up fees and a profit up to $1 for every transaction, owners have nothing to lose and only money to gain.

    Another great resource for the customers that rely heavily on cash are prepaid cards or check cashing services. Prepaid cards can be used for a variety of different needs such as cell phone service, long distance calling, or virtual gift cards for online shopping. Customers can even buy these cards once they have cashed their checks in your store.

    People using these services are most likely to be regulars who frequent your store, so providing these conveniences will only ensure that they continue to choose you as their primary c-store.

    Boosting Revenue with Cell Phone Products

    As a c-store owner, you should take every opportunity to enhance your business with new technology. Prepaid cards have opened the door for c-stores to offer no contract, or pay-as-you-go cell phones. Large chains such as 7-eleven have already started offering these products, “the convenience store chain is selling its own prepaid cell phone service in 1,400 stores. Analysts say major retailers will soon follow”[iv]. This is a great way to gain an edge over your competition, and appeal to younger customers. Since the phone service does not require a contract, many teenagers and young adults will opt for this month-to-month option over a large phone company. If they do buy this product from your convenience or grocery store, it is likely that they will continue to come back every month to extend their phone service, automatically making them a long term or repeat customer.

    Impress Customers with Delivery and Personal Convenience

    While providing money and cell phone options seem like enough to boost sales and draw in new customers, there are even more services that you can offer to get customers through the door. If you stock alcoholic beverages or ready-to-eat foods, you can offer catering, delivery, or food-to-go options to customers[v]. As a convenience store, your customers are seeking the fastest and easiest way to get their products. With delivery, you are taking the next step in improving customer service.

    You may even consider becoming a true ‘one stop shop’ by offering laundry, dry cleaning, postal services, photo copying, or photo developing in your store. This is a great way to grow your business without having to invest in another location or venture. These options are convenient for the customer and an easy way for you to make money in new and different ways.

    With these options in mind, continue to strive to be the most convenient and customer oriented c-store in your area. You no longer have to be a tech company or large chain to offer incredible services to the customers in your community. Take advantage of these options in 2017, and continue to strive for a successful business.