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How Do Convenience Stores Attract Customers?

What are the top marketing strategies for convenience stores in 2021 and beyond? What are convenience pricing strategies in store for the Australian convenience retail sector? Safe to say that the digital disruption will continue to make all retailers take a much more innovative approach to a price war and team building. With huge changes in the supermarket retailing sector on our doorstep, we will argue that supermarket price wars will come to a close and that the remaining retailers will shift to a stronger value proposition and convenience offered to win both market share and share of wallet. 

Marketing Strategies Used By Convenience Stores

Instant Delivery

One of the most successful marketing strategies used by convenience, Customers today have created an environment where they want to make payments and receive goods immediately. Usually, the quickest and easiest way to do this has been via retail stores. However, due to digitization, a 'mobile-first' consumer, social media, emergence of new digital channels and new convenience strategies and easy access to the web, customer behaviours have changed, and people are changing how they buy their everyday groceries.

The economic landscape has created a less spending attitude amongst consumers. Still, the reality is that people are spending more every year – they're just not spending it in areas where they're supposed to spend their disposable income as new products/services emerge. The new consumers, the millennials, value price over recommendations, the brand's reputation, and even product quality. They follow brands online just for discount opportunities. For example, 66% of millennials would go-to brands if offered at least a 30% discount, and only a third see a brand to consider trends or product updates.

Reducing Food Waste

Food waste has always been a prevalent problem not just in the environmental outlook but from a cost perspective also. It costs money to order, receive, refill and manage inventory. Therefore, it is better to sell it than throw it away. All current grocers are now working hard to reduce food waste, initiating activities such as donating to food charities, circular economy techniques like Woolworths' "bread" beer, and active food waste diversion programs. In the future, anticipate seeing "ugly" fruit and vegetables having more prominent places on the shelves. Also, convenience is becoming more creative with the circular economy, i.e., soups and juices made from spoiled fruit and vegetables.

A Bigger Social Media Presence

With the new marketing strategies used by convenience stores, Retailers are now creating a sense of community or ecosystem that is more than a mundane shopping trip for bulk routine purchases. They want to set themselves, and their brands and private label offers apart and build stronger relationships with their customers — which, in turn, drives sales and loyalty.

Convenience stores are trying to be different from the mega-stores of the past. They want to be more than just a warehouse for bulk value products. They wanted to build a strong social presence among their customers, followers and target audience. As a result, they have embarked on a strategic pivot from the community to the environment, specifically around drought, sustainability and community resilience that is foreseen in the future.

Common Problems In Foodservice And How To Overcome Them

Your Menu

Creating a great menu is a real balancing act - you want to offer many choices, but you also don't want to confuse or overwhelm your customers.

  • You might think that having a large menu is more beneficial, but it can mean:
  • It takes longer for customers to order.
  • It creates longer ticket times in the kitchen.
  • You'll need to buy more ingredients.
  • Slower overall table turnaround since each table takes longer to serve.
  • cafe customer looking at the menu board

Here are some ways you can improve your menu:

  • Make sure it is easily readable.
  • Avoid using dollar signs.
  • Take your customers on a culinary journey. A great copywriter can produce a compelling and mouth-watering menu.
  • Make sure your menus are always clean – no food or grease marks. Replace damaged menus and don't white-out or mark mistakes or changes – it's unprofessional.
  • Ensure staff know the menu and can answer questions and make recommendations.
  • Include the menu on your website and make sure it's easy to navigate using a mobile phone.

You might also consider:

  • Adopting a QR code digital menu to make ordering more efficient.
  • Embracing a simple menu design makes it easier for customers to pick what they want.
  • Include exciting and novel drink options to help you increase your beverage sales.

Customer Service

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First impressions are crucial for making your business a memorable one. Poor service can make great food and its surroundings unattractive. In contrast, a satisfied customer will return to your establishment and recommend you to others. Make sure that your team has training in handling common customer complaints in the food industry. For example, does your team understand how to handle a customer who complains about something wrong with their order? Do your staff members understand how to be courteous towards disabled customers? Investing in additional customer service training for your front of house staff will pay off when you start to get excellent online reviews written by grateful customers. Prioritizing your diners' customer service experience is just as crucial as ensuring the quality of the food and drinks you serve them.

Your Unique Selling Point (Usp)

Why should your customers dine at your restaurant and not the one next door? Think about the answer to this question - this is your unique selling point (USP). A great menu and excellent customer service are essential to the success of your business. However, they are not USPs since any foodservice business could claim them. It would help if you had an innovative idea and compelling reason for why customers should keep returning to your restaurant over others.

Go beyond what you've promised and give customers something new - a reason for them to return again and again! Perhaps you could offer new and exciting drinks, desserts or buffets, maybe you have a renowned chef working in your kitchen, or you might be using plant-based meat in new and exciting ways. Whatever your USP is, make sure you lean into it and ensure your customers know what it is.

FAQs About How Do Convenience Stores Attract Customers

Food quality, price, speed, and menu variety are the most important factors for delivery from a c-store. Forty-four per cent of consumers prefer to order directly from the store rather than a third-party service (12 per cent).

Convenience stores have stable revenue streams because of the nature of their business. People stop by these stores because they are convenient, having what they need to get through their day. In addition, many locations offer gasoline for sale, along with propane or kerosene, which generates more local economic activity.

Despite the rising popularity of internet shopping combined with home delivery of grocery and convenience items, starting and operating a 'mini convenience store' is still a good business venture to activate that has the potential to generate decent profits. Once again, business location is the key to success.

Operations

Managing the day-to-day operation of your café or restaurant is essential, but you also need to consider the bigger picture. By stepping back and looking at your processes holistically, you can identify rising concerns, respond to consumer trends, and eliminate inefficiencies that cost you money.

  • How many customers are you serving each day?
  • Do you know what your most profitable menu items are? Are these selling more than the least profitable ones?
  • What is your profit and loss for each week that you are open?
  • How efficient is your supply chain? By tightening up your ordering and inventory management operations, could you reduce food waste?

Knowing the answers to these questions is key to reducing your overhead expenses and retaining more profit. The more profit you generate, the more you can reinvest to grow your business.

Retaining Staff

Supporting and keeping good employees can save your business time and money while retaining valuable skills that could be hard to replace. Top five tips for retaining hospitality staff:

  • Be firm, fair and flexible. Staff need to know your minimum expectations of them from day one. Be flexible. This industry has odd hours, so staff need some regular weekends.
  • Lead by example. Show leadership, integrity and maturity at all times.
  • Review and reward. Carry out regular staff reviews and make sure you have staff bonus and reward schemes in place.
  • Don't forget to communicate. Good communication is vital for any relationship, and staff are no exception.
  • Give feedback. Constructive, meaningful, honest feedback will do amazing things for staff and ultimately improve work performance.
  •  busy restaurant kitchen

When you support your staff, you'll reduce costs over time and enhance your customers' dining experience. Having motivated and highly-trained staff is one of the biggest assets in the foodservice industry.

Marketing

Marketing is all about attracting new customers to your business and keeping existing ones. A great marketing plan can be one of the most powerful ways of growing your business and bringing in more revenue. Here are some simple steps that can help:

  • Create a marketing plan. Set yourself a goal for what you want to achieve and make it specific SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely. Your plan needs to be flexible and short term - 6 to 12 months.
  • Formalize your brand standards. This includes developing a mission statement, logo, graphics, guidelines, etc. This helps to ensure all your messaging remains consistent.
  • Think about digital marketing for your business. Social media and websites are essential if you want to thrive. Consider investing in social media or search engine marketing.
  • Respond to comments on review sites - even the negative ones (be professional).
  • Network within your community and businesses in the area can help spread the word.
  • Be creative with your marketing. Whatever your budget, there are inexpensive ways to promote your business.

Some cheap ways to market your café or restaurant include:

  • They are creating a customer loyalty program to make customers more likely to recommend your business to others.
  • We purchase inexpensive marketing materials to use in your café or restaurant, such as flyers and magnets.
  • Create a hashtag for your business so customers can tag you in their social media posts relating to your food and drinks.
  • Building relationships with local media will help you attract customers by publicizing your new seasonal menu items or events taking place at your café or restaurant.

Cash Flow

Having good cash flow is key to business success. However, if your business is experiencing poor cash flow, here are a few things you can do:

  • Make sure you're getting the most from your menu. If you think prices are too low or get more from some dishes, increase the price.
  • Manage stock and make sure you have a suitable rotation method to reduce wastage.
  • Effective budgeting and management reporting is important. Do a short course if you need to upskill in this area.
  • Consider applying for a business line of credit so you can draw on funds to cover gaps in your cash flow.
  • Brush up on your knowledge of supply chain management and see if there are ways you could be doing things better.
  • Hospitality workers checking tablet
  • Owners should plan to have at least enough money to continue operating for one year. Additionally, restaurant owners need to have enough financial resources to cope with unexpected costs and price increases.

You must know how to identify and solve common cash flow problems.

Tips To Help You Run A Successful Convenience Store

A convenience store means taking a quick break in getting from point A to point B to many consumers. It's a small beacon of respite to refuel one's vehicle and body with refreshments. It stands as an oasis in the desert of interstates, allowing visitors to stretch their legs, freshen up, and refocus on the journey ahead. While your customers may only visit your store for a few brief moments, you can take steps to make their experience positive and pleasant, increasing your chance for boosted sales in the future. With over 40 years of experience in running convenience stores, HSO has discovered which strategies are the most effective in bringing in customers and improving your bottom line. Here are our ten tips to help you improve and make your convenience store a hit:

Keep Bathrooms Spotless

Most people believe that high-quality businesses and pristine bathrooms go hand-in-hand. However, when customers enter a dirty restroom, they may believe that your business is as subpar as your cleaning skills. If you want to satisfy your customers and keep them coming back, ensure your bathrooms are clean and stocked. Spot-cleaning, daily cleaning, and keeping supplies available at all times can help ensure that your restroom won't stall your business.

Illuminate The Forecourt

Did you know that well-lit gas stations have 50% more visits than those with below-average forecourt lighting? A 2017 study showed a strong correlation between overnight foot traffic and the quality of outside lighting. Customers equate illuminated spaces as safe and monitored, especially during dawn and the evening hours. Keep tabs on your lights and replace any that may go out. Consider upgrading your lighting to LED if you haven't already – they are cost-effective and environmentally friendly as well!

Manage Your Inventory And Offer More Products

Customers expect convenience stores to be stocked with an eclectic variety of items. Monitor your inventory at least once every day and restock when necessary. If you want to be successful, you never want to be caught without inventory; otherwise, you'll miss out on sales, and customers may choose to visit competitors to get what they need. Think outside of the box and try offering a greater assortment of products as well – you never know what might catch a customer's eye!

Keep It Organized

We, humans, are drawn to aesthetically pleasing surroundings. Therefore, ensure that your aisles are wide, the shelves are organized with prices labelled properly, and the products are facing forward. This helps your customers feel comfortable and find what they're looking for quickly and efficiently!

Increase Interior Visibility For Your Cashiers

Speaking of your store's interior, it's a wise idea to give your cashiers a good bird's eye view of what's happening in the store. Choose shelves that allow your cashiers to see where every customer is at all times. Additionally, position smaller items where your employees can easily see them.

Hire And Reward Attentive Staff

Positive or negative, people remember customer service and spread the word to their friends and family. Hire and train staff members to assist all customers in a quick, friendly, and helpful manner at all times. The easier your employees make the shopping experience, the more likely you will see customers return in the future. Reward employees for above-and-beyond customer service to help them remain motivated!

Try Testing New Products

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Keep tabs on hot new items that appear in the market. Has a new candy bar or soda flavour come out? Please take note of those overnight sensations and stock up on them for a set amount of time. Your customers might keep visiting your store to see what new products are on your shelves more frequently!

Clean The Soda Fountain And Food Areas

No one likes a messy, semi-functional food station. Check this area of your convenience store frequently and clean it as needed. Ensure that the coffee is made, utensils are restocked, and the beverage flavours on the machines are operating properly. Additionally, make time to clean and sanitize the equipment to eradicate germs and prolong the life of your equipment, including the fountain machine heads. Your customers will appreciate the attention to detail!

Invest In Your Store

Take pride in your store by making it a functional, safe place to work and shop. Install security cameras and electronic door systems to increase safety and repeat customers. Fix the pothole in your parking lot and repaint the parking spots when needed. Please pay attention to your store's appearance and keep it clean and inviting. Convenience stores with good upkeep tend to attract customers and keep them coming back!

Streamline The Checkout Experience

While it's tempting to add new products and displays to your checkout counter, your customers will quickly feel overwhelmed. Instead, look at the display from the other side of the counter – does it look neat and organized? Is there too much clutter? Reserve the checkout area for small impulse purchases and distribute other items strategically throughout the store.

Conclusion:

More consumers are turning to the digital realm to shop for their items. The retailers should adapt to the changing trends, consumers do not see supermarket stores as valuable or convenient. The time of the mega supermarket has passed. Now, for the first time in twenty-five years, consumers and shoppers are going back to basic and want a local high street experience again. They want consistent pricing (fewer promotions), niche / specialized offers, smaller local stores complemented by an interactive 'in-store experience'. Smaller retail stores and better stock inventory management systems and distribution networks will, in turn, eliminate the current over-reliance on bulk stocking, package pricing, deep discounts and buying more for fewer value propositions.

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