As a grocer or convenience store owner, you know the importance of connecting with your local community to boost sales and foster customer loyalty. However, marketing efforts can be costly, especially for small businesses with limited budgets. But fear not! Here are six low-cost and highly effective ways to market your store to your community that will help you enhance brand visibility, attract new customers, and create a strong sense of community around your store.
Top 10 Small Details C-Store Shoppers Care About
1. Flat Pricing for Easy Checkout
Flat pricing is when all of the items in the store have prices ending in $__.00 instead of $_.99. This simplistic approach is appealing to customers because it makes it easier for shoppers to understand the actual price and allows them to figure out the amount they are actually spending. They will often times wind up spending more if they feel confident with their current trip total. You may also want to consider including tax in all of your products price. This is just another way to make customers more confident in the price of the items they are purchasing.
2. Clean and Stocked Bathrooms
Your restroom facilities reflect you and your business. If your storefront is clean and organized but you neglect the bathroom, customers will think that there are other areas in the store that are not taken care of properly. Something as small as running out of paper towels can lead to a very frustrated customer who may leave the store without making a purchase. Make sure employees are trained properly so that they know how to clean the floors, toilets, and sinks. The garbage should also be taken out frequently and the soap and paper towels consistently stocked. If they are checked frequently then it is much easier to keep them presentable all day long.
3. Careful Customer Service
There are a few different types of customers that tend to need employee help or attention.
The everyday customer; this customer is loyal to your c-store and comes in very frequently. They know where there favorite products are and tend to engage in conversation in order to build a relationship. Owners and employees should recognize these customers and greet them. Growing this relationship gives you an opportunity to let them know about new products, services, and sales boosting your profits in the one term.
The road-tripper; this customer is completely unfamiliar with your store. They normally need help finding the bathrooms and picking up a quick meal or snacks. You can help this customer by suggesting ready-to-go meals and letting them know of any sales or promotions on snacks and beverages to take on the road.
The customer with dietary restrictions; this customer will most likely be different every single time. Dietary restrictions can be medical or by choice, but either way employees need to know the items in their c-store that can accommodate them. If a shopper is vegan then employees should point out some snacks or meals that have no meat or dairy in them. If they cannot eat gluten then show them any gluten-free products or some fruit and nut alternatives. This way they are more inclined to come back if they know you have options that they can eat or drink.
4. Available Products
One of the most frustrating things for a customer is not getting the product they want because it is out-of-stock. This can be due to employees not stocking the shelves in a timely manner or owners not ordering enough of a popular item. To solve this take note of items that tend to sell out frequently and make sure you are ordering extras. Employees should walk around frequently and stock any items that are low or completely gone. Shoppers are always appreciative of businesses that seem to "always have what they need".
5. Have a Color Scheme
This may seem insignificant, but you should not underestimate the power of complimentary colors on a shoppers brain. When you have a central color scheme for your signs, logos, and other items in your store it gives your business a definite brand and environment that consumers will remember. You can even choose colors like red or yellow that are proven to make customers more hungry. Be creative with your store and find a theme that is appealing to you and your customers.
6. Fair Pricing
Many customers buy the same products over and over. When coming into your c-store for the first time they will most likely be familiar with the average price of their favorite beverage or snack. If your prices are too high they most likely will not return to your store. This does not mean that you must have discounts and promos for every item, but you should be pricing your items fairly according to your location. You should also make sure that your items have prices clearly marked on the package or the shelving they are sitting on. If something has no price, customers may put it back or become frustrated if the price is not what they expected. You also risk losing the customer if they have to wait in line to ask for pricing.
7. Payment Methods
Another small detail that may upset a customer is not having the right payment method. Today's consumers are used to having options when paying for goods and services. Make sure your store's technology is up-to-date and consumers can process payments quickly and conveniently. The latest payment processing devices are EMV ready and can accept mobile payments, which consumers love. Also, accepting EBT is a great way to gain repeat business from a segment of consumers who are often overlooked but typically frequent c-stores.
8. Fresh and Quality Items
Although your c-store may not have an entire ready-to-eat food section, customers still want fresh or recently packaged items. Make sure that any products you are carrying are not expired or damaged. If there is dust on products or shelving you can forget about shoppers choosing that item to buy. Quality items can also mean stocking big brands over the inexpensive knock-off versions. Customers want the best and if your store is not stocking items that are treated right, then you may be losing shoppers.
9. Free Wi-Fi
Nowadays many customers want the ability to relax and browse the internet while shopping. This means that having a public Wi-Fi network for customers is essential. If you have a website or app customers may need to log on to get coupons or look at other promotions you have going on in the store. Some customers may not have cell-phone service, so being able to get on Wi-Fi to connect with family members or friends could mean more sales for you if they are picking up additional items for them. Wi-Fi is a service that brings people into your store and encourages them to purchase products and come back again in the future.
10. Available Parking
This is a detail that could make you lose a sale before a customer even enters the store. If you are do not have enough parking potential customers are likely to leave and find another c-store nearby. Having to wait for someone else to leave is unrealistic, so you should make sure that you have ample space available for small cars and larger vehicles.
Overall, it is important to pay attention to every detail in your c-store. Something small could be the difference in a customer being loyal or deciding to go to a competitor. Luckily, if you take care of your c-store and take care of the small details then customers will continue to choose you every time making you more profits.