Hong Kong, China Circa January, 2019: Interior Shot Of Circle

Clean and Convenient: The Secret to Winning C-Store Customers

May 21, 2021
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A clean and organized c-store is more than just a convenience for customers; the way an area is set up affects the way people think. Studies show that unorganized stores can cause information overload, lead to confusion and ultimately create a negative experience (sometimes, customers just leave). Where people choose to shop and what they decide to purchase also largely depends on their perception of the store’s cleanliness. So, let’s dig into how you can influence customer perceptions and ultimately win them over with a cleaner, more convenient space.

First impression
Most people won’t shop at your c-store if the outside doesn’t look clean and inviting. In fact, 95% of people stated that the exterior of a store influenced if they would shop there or not. Try stepping outside of your store and look for cracked or dirty sidewalks. Does the siding need a powerwash, or is there anything distracting from a clean and inviting look? If it looks great, try upping the ante and adding tasteful signs or to attract customers. A GasBuddy survey states that a well-lit forecourt increased nighttime foot traffic by 50%. Take a look at your c-store after dark and if the forecourt isn’t lit well, try adding lighting to the areas that need it. The investment will pay off in the end.

Squeaky clean
The fact is many people (even in the world today) are not so stellar with their own hand hygiene, but they really want others to be. In the convenience store world, cleanliness is something that is an important marketing tool. If an environment is clean, people stick around longer. And if they stick around longer — they’re apt to purchase more things. Perception is the real deal here. Your store can be hospital-grade sterile, but if customers don’t know about it, they’ll always assume countertops, food areas, door handles (you name it) are harboring some kind of germs. One way to handle this is to market your cleanliness. State how often areas are sanitized or post signage informing people of your cleaning schedules. Having hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes in key locations is also a way to create a sense of safety. And keep in mind — some of the top places people want to see a squeaky clean area are bathrooms, food service areas, entries, and floors.

Merchandising makeover
More isn’t always better. Look back at your sales history and find the products that you purchased most often and pair down your offerings to only the most popular items in your store. You can still have a wide selection with fewer items to allow for a cleaner and more organized space. In the post-covid world, people want wider aisles and a convenient flow of traffic to limit close interaction with other shoppers. A study showed that people don’t like their backs against items while in a store. The “butt brush rule” is based on the observation that people will avoid purchasing merchandise if the space or aisle is too small and there’s a chance their backside will brush against merchandise or other people. To remedy this, try incorporating more space in merchandising areas, create wider aisles and make sure items are not low to the ground. Take a step back from the aisles and observe how shoppers navigate through; look for areas that have barriers or congestion inflow, and remedy any spaces that aren’t working well.

Stress-free shopping
The truth is, many people want to go out and shop. They like the experience of it all. Try and provide ways to decrease the stress load of shoppers ready to take the “brick-and-mortar leap” by removing unnecessary floor displays and increasing the open feel of the area. Display clean foodservice equipment and self-serve areas. Declutter and simplify wherever you can. Provide signage with traffic-flow guidance and reassure customers of your commitment to their health and safety. And as always, train your team of employees to offer excellent customer service to every shopper they encounter.

Bringing the best
C-stores have been a great resource for customers throughout the pandemic. And moving into a post-covid era, they continue to bring their best to the table. By following the basics of keeping a clean, organized, and convenient setup, your c-store can be a stress-free shopping haven. To bring more of what your shoppers want, check out our expert tips on incredible grab-n-go menu ideas.

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