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    Top 5 Most Confusing C-Store Concepts

    Running a c-store is becoming increasingly complex. Combine together new trends with changing technology and new competitors, and you'll find that running a c-store can seem overwhelming. Here are the top five most confusing c-store concepts explained so you can understand what is going on with the convenience industry today.

    1. Clean and Healthy Foods

    In 2017 customers are looking for products that are free from artificial flavors and colors, preservatives, and sweeteners. These items can range from fresh fruits to Kraft’s mac and cheese or Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. Other diet or ingredient preferences can include no gluten, trans fats, BPA or GMOs. Products like sunflower seeds, string cheese, boiled eggs, pickles, jerky or snack bars are all gluten free and great options to stock in your store.

    Where do I start? 

    • Start by educating yourself and learning how to understand how to read a food label. It's important to be able to judge for yourself whether a food will be considered truly healthy by customer standards.
    • Look at the food items you already stock and check the existing ingredients to highlight what your current healthy options are.
    • Educate your employees on different health trends and standards – they should be able to identify a variety of options for customers who need help finding the right clean or healthy foods.
    1. Companies with New Convenience Concepts

    Large companies are now venturing into the c-store industry to change how we see convenience. Amazon is planning to roll out a brand-new store design that allows customers will avoid the hassle of lines and dealing with cashiers. Many current c-store owners are wondering if this “no-checkout” concept will affect their business and what they should do to compete.

    Should I be worried?

    Luckily 66% of customers say they would not pay more for grocery items just to avoid lines. This means that owners will be able to compete by continuing to offer competitive pricing with in-store sales and promotions.

    1. EMV Adoption Slowdown

    Many c-store owners have already made the investment in chip-reading technology for their counter top terminals. The initial compliance deadline for was October 2015, the deadline for ATMs was October 2017, but the deadline for fuel pumps has been pushed back to October 2020.

    Why are some consumers rejecting EMV?

    Some of the c-stores that do have their EMV machines working are having issues with Visa’s confusing checkout screen. Store operators complained that “the screen prompted customers to select U.S. debit or Visa debit, which could limit their ability to get cashback or enter their PIN”. Ultimately, Visa has agreed to fix this issue as soon as possible to help alleviate consumer concerns.

    Why should you invest in a new ATM?

    You should also make sure you have an EMV-ready ATM sooner rather than later.  Many businesses have already made the switch in preparation for the October 2017 deadline. It is estimated that 79% of ATMs will be able to accept the chip reading technology by the end of 2017.  ATMs are a major target for fraudsters and thieves and the upcoming EMV mandate deadline will provide greater protection for businesses, consumers, and financial institutions.

    What about the fuel pump EMV deadline?

    Owners are encouraged to invest in new fuel pumps or to add EMV technology to their current equipment as soon as possible.  Since fuel pump skimming accounts for 1.3% of total card fraud in the U.S., the switch to EMV at the pump is a great opportunity for c-store and gas station owners to further protect themselves from the potential liability for credit card fraud.

    1. C-Store Branding 101

    Many owners confuse advertising and branding as the same thing. These are two separate practices, yet both are important to the success of your store. They both have completely different goals, and when used together can completely change your business. Advertising is used to sell more products and increase revenue, while branding is the practice of creating and reinforcing the overall image and experience of your business.  Advertising is usually an activity that store owners understand, while branding is often ignored.

    How do I brand my c-store?

    • Choose a common theme, logo, or color scheme
    • Have a consistent and attractive store image by adjusting interior areas and forecourt designs
    • Update your current equipment and signage
    • Set store wide standards such as employee uniforms and required training
    • Increase your customer service items such as cups, lids, menu boards, and more

    Every store should establish a unique brand, which could include making significant changes. Consider talking to experts to figure out what exactly your store needs, and how to make the most impactful changes. Understand that the branding process takes time, and do not be discouraged if you have to change things slowly over time.

    1. Social Media and Online Marketing

    Online or ‘digital’ marketing is a way of communicating and interacting with customers through different internet and social media platforms. This may seem complex, when considering the ever-changing technology and increasing amount of options to choose from. However, it is not only important to take advance of this marketing tool as soon as possible, but to do it the right way.

    How can I start marketing online?

    • Create social media accounts for your store, on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, to build a following.
    • Use these accounts to advertise promotions, sales, and new products or renovations.
    • Introduce a loyalty program or mobile app for loyal customers and encourage their engagement with your store's profiles on social media.

    How can I improve my current online presence?

    • Do not bombard followers with sales, but instead offer specials or discounts just for your online customers
    • Reward customers for sharing, liking, or reviewing your pages
    • Identify the most popular items in your store and offer promotions on those products
    • Make sure if you are using a mobile app that it is compatible on all phone systems

    If there are more issues in the c-store industry that seem to be confusing to you, please share them with the goEBT team by emailing