When you’re operating a convenience store, there’s tremendous potential for foot traffic. To take advantage of these walk-in sales, you need to appeal to the masses while also building a loyal customer base. To do this, make sure you’re as advertised — convenient. Surprisingly, too many convenience stores might miss the mark on key convenience factors and as a result, lose customers. To ensure you’re not one of them, watch for these five signs that your convenience store isn’t actually as convenient as you might have thought:
Your inventory isn’t selling.
When convenience stores stock their shelves, they may rely on products they’ve always sold, rather than adapting to customer trends. When you’re planning your inventory strategy, take a customer-centric approach. Think about who your customers are, what they want, and remember it’s not one-size-fits-all. Break your customers into segments and figure out what drives them to your store. For instance, your teenage customers are going to have different demands than the carpooling mom. Understand the spectrum of customers that frequent your store and adjust your store layout, point-of-sale displays, grab-and-go options and foodservice equipment to meet their needs.
You haven’t changed your product offering.
Not only are you serving a range of customers with different demands, but regardless of who they are, people like lots of options. Whether it’s a road trip customer who’s unsure of what they want, a family of young kids, a truck driver, or a businessman, they’re all looking for something different, so offering variety is essential. As you’re honing in on what customers want, switch up your offerings to test out what’s popular. And when you’re swapping products in and out, track inventory movement closely, as this should inform future purchasing decisions. Make sure your inventory includes an array of fresh cold and hot foods too, and capitalize on peak meal times. During breakfast hours, for example, many convenience stores have a loyal customer base. To accommodate them, have a variety of hot breakfast items available.
Your lines are long.
While you may be reducing staff to cut back on costs, you could be leaving money on the table. Frequently when customers stop in at a convenience store, they’re in a hurry. If you’re not staffed appropriately, they may get impatient and take their business elsewhere. By getting your staffing levels right, you can increase sales volume and ensure repeat customers. Pay attention to traffic patterns, and staff your store accordingly so customers can get the quick in-and-out service they need. And while your staff’s there, make sure they’re prioritizing customer service. If there’s a line five people deep at the register, your staff should be ready to check them out. Investing in programmable equipment and streamlined processes can help your employees and labor.
You have less-than-stellar reviews.
Your customers want to know what they can expect in your store. From speed of service to store cleanliness to food quality, consistency is critical to their customer experience. If customers stop by your store when they’re in a hurry and they can’t get what they need quickly — even if it’s a clean restroom — it will cast a shadow on their experience. With the amount of competition, often nearby, you can’t afford this kind of inconsistency. To keep customers coming back, deliver across-the-board, every time. And remember, there’s always room for improvement. Whether it’s an online survey or a suggestion box, solicit feedback from your customers and make adjustments if necessary.
Your equipment is inefficient.
As innovative equipment becomes more of a mainstay throughout convenience stores, make sure yours is measuring up. Customers have come to expect great food, fast. It’s no longer acceptable to sacrifice quality for speed. On the flip side, employees need high-production, user-friendly equipment to meet these consumer demands and to do their jobs efficiently. Evaluate your equipment. From the cash register to the kitchen oven and beverage machines, figure out what equipment you need to make everyone’s lives easier.
Convenience that’s second to none.
When it comes to growing a loyal customer base, convenience is, quite literally, the name of the game. If you make a conscious effort to increase convenience in these five areas, it will positively impact your bottom line.
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