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    The Modern C-Store: Redefining Convenience, Health, and Indulgence

    C-store’s are evolving quickly as a younger generation of owners are coming in and changing the way we view convenience. The “modern convenience concept” includes an array of new techniques that appeal to both older and younger customers. Below are some of typical "modern" c-store components to help you understand what is different about these new and innovative c-stores.

    Clean, Sleek, and Minimalist Store Model

    Today's "modern c-stores" rely on design and layouts that allow for better flowing foot traffic with a "less is more" concept.  These "minimalist" store designs focus on shelving, aesthetics, and easy access instead of the heavy pairing of complimentary items.

    Lighting is also extremely important when attempting this model. Open lighting that takes advantage of natural light instead of harsh bright and fluorescent lights complete the soft desired look of the store.

    Store owners seeking a minimalist store model should also focus on a clear brand or theme. With a simple logo and neutral or cool complimentary colors schemes customers will not feel overwhelmed during their shopping experience. Also,

    C-store owners that want a more clean look for their business should be very particular when it comes to choosing signage. It is also wise to label shelves with large, clean, and easy to read signs such as: frozen, wine, sweet, salty, coffee, or drinks. This will help customers find what they need as quickly as possible.

    Another factor of the modern convenience store is a variety of simple services. Offering amenities such as a free ATM or a coffee bar where shoppers can come in and enjoy free Wi-Fi are some of the reasons why customers prefer these modern establishments.  With clean open spaces instead of the bulky aisles, this store truly opens up and invites families with small children, daytime professionals, and even nighttime city folks to come in and shop.

    Redefining Item Options and Creating Product Balance

    Stocking items in a modern or minimalist style of shop is completely different than the traditional c-store. The time and effort put into stocking the most popular and unique items truly sets these stores apart. If you're looking to move toward a more modern convenience experience in your own store, focus on the 'classic vs rad' approach. For example; try stocking both Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Justin's Organic Dark Chocolate Cups. Instead of trying to stock every size of chocolate peanut butter candy, it's best to focus on a variety of brands and specific ingredient options. Having the traditional grabs alongside newer brands gives the customer variety in a way they haven't typically seen in c-stores. Creating a product balance is the main goal of these modern convenience stores.

    Stocking both the healthy and indulgent product alongside meat and vegan or gluten free options means there is something for everyone, which is on the main goals of the new modern convenience stores. Although inspired by a younger generation, modern c-store merchandising trends tend to appeal toward people with a variety of diet preferences.

    Photo by Joe Riedl

    Unique Pricing and ‘The Crowler’ Concept

    Another huge aspect that has brought success for the modern convenience stores is low flat pricing. Although most all retailers sell items at a "$_.99" or a similar pricing model, the modern c-store is attempting to defeat those sales tactics. Every item in the stores is marked at "$_.00", earning the name of "flat" pricing. This is much easier for the shopper to comprehend and contributes to the simplistic aesthetic style of the store.

    Modern minimalist stores also claim to have prices lower than 7-Eleven or Plaid Pantry, making customers more likely to pick their stores over the competition. They also do not believe in having anything in the store that is over $20, which helps to market the store as convenient and affordable. To aid in customer savings, some stores are offering their own version of the 'growler'. The Mini Mini c-store introduced the “crowler” that offers beverage fill-ups for a variety of different products such as:

    • Jones Sode ($5)
    • Kombucha ($9)
    • Double Mountain ($7)

    These products are just a few customer favorites that keep the customers coming back to get more beverage fill-ups.

    What makes customers choose this style of c-store over a grocery or more health focused store?

    One of the most appealing aspects to the modern shopper is the ability to save time. In the U.K. 70% of consumers say they typically prefer to shop for food and drink on a weekly basis. This creates a need for a more convenient option that has a large variety of items to get consumers through their week without having to stop in a large, more time-consuming store. It has become clear that there is large customer demand for something between a grocery and convenient store, and that is where the “modern” c-store comes to the rescue. In order to meet these ‘lifestyle needs’ modern convenience stores are offering food and drink options of all variety. Without shopping carts or parking lot hassles, current c-store owners should focus on transitioning their stores to accommodate these customers and improve the overall success of their business.

    The main goal when creating a minimalist-designed single store is to focus on true convenience and not what we have typically seen in the past. As an owner considering to implement new design and store concepts, do not be afraid to think outside of the box and try things outside of your comfort zone.