Discover how to boost convenience store profits and meet customers’ expectations like a pro!
As a c-store owner, you have two critical challenges: meet customers’ expectations and stay profitable. For some c-store owners, doing both may seem impossible.
Over the past year, c-store customers’ expectations have changed drastically because customers are now more comfortable with using mobile apps and other technology. They also want the convenience of ordering items online and picking up orders without entering your c-store. When you embrace technology to run your c-store or gas station, you can easily and quickly interact with your customers, have the opportunity to meet customers’ demands, increase revenue, and improve convenience store profitability.
Here are 4 Top Tips to Boost Your Convenience Store Profits and Improve Customer Service and Loyalty:
Tip #1: Start with Item Level Inventory
It’s no secret that many c-store owners don’t have adequate inventory control, which negatively impacts convenience store profitability.
Secret: The best way to control inventory for better profits is at the item level, which means you track the number of items sold instead of the number of pallets or cases. Controlling inventory at this detailed level helps you better track current stock, sales, and provides better information to make projections for how much you need to order in the future – which all lead to improved profits.
But tracking inventory can be challenging (and downright overwhelming) if you are using a pen and paper or spreadsheets. Instead, use technology to easily and quickly track inventory accurately. You will find that using affordable inventory scanners speeds up the time you spend on inventory and helps you make better buying decisions.
Tip #2: Offer a Variety of Products
According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), “Shoppers recognize the c-store channel of trade for its convenient locations, extended hours of operation, one-stop shopping, grab-and-go foodservice, variety of merchandise, and fast transactions.” From snacks to tobacco, beer, and food services, customers always like to have a variety of choices.
NACS data shows that cigarettes and foodservice are the top c-store revenue streams, followed by beverages and snacks:
- Cigarettes: 31% of in-store sales
- Foodservice (prepared and commissary food; hot, cold, and dispensed beverages): 22.6%
- Packaged beverages (carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, water, sports drinks, juices, and teas): 15.3%
- Snacks at the center of the store (salty, candy, packaged sweet snacks and alternative snacks): 10.4%
- Other tobacco products: 6.7%
- Beer: 6.3% (12.4% for stores selling beer)
- Other items: 7.7%
Bottom Line: To make more money and meet customer expectations, you must anticipate what customers will want at your convenience store, and understand the margin for each product you sell. By stocking the right mix and variety of products, you can attract a wider array of customers. By using c-store technology you’ll get an accurate view of what’s moving and what’s not to help manage customers’ demands more effectively and improve your bottom line.
Tip #3: Add Self-Checkout and Curbside Pickup Options
When lines form at the check-out, customer patience wanes. Customers shop at convenience stores to save time, and you can help them by letting them use a self-checkout option. A recent study shows that about 40 percent of retail shoppers prefer self-checkout.
Self-checkout speeds up purchases for items that don’t require age verification and may even free up employees’ time to ensure that only customers of legal age buy tobacco, alcohol, and lottery items. PLUS – your employees can then focus on other tasks and improve check-out speed.
Bottom Line: In today’s uncertain times, many customers prefer to use a mobile app to order what they need and pick up their items at curbside. While this type of technology may be new to you, it’s a critical way to meet your customer’s changing needs and gain even more customers and repeat business.
Tip #4: Save Time and Increase Accuracy with Internet-based Software
End-to-end internet-based convenience store software systems deliver a seamless experience for customers and retailers alike. You can manage tracking item-level inventory, offer a variety of products, and provide self-checkout and curbside pickup through a single online portal.
You’ll capture customer data and identify buying patterns in ways that streamline your inventory and profit margins, and speed up transactions to improve the customer shopping experience and increase customer loyalty. When your transactional and financial data is stored on the Internet, you will have the assurance that your information is not only secure, but that you can easily access it any time, from any mobile device.
Watch for: Customers make buying decisions at the fuel pump, in the made-to-order food service area, at the check-out counter, and from their home or office. Internet-based, or cloud-based, platforms centralize customer data that comes from multiple sources —which is critical to save customers’ time, speed up purchasing, and organize all the data as the number of customer touchpoints increases across multiple channels.
Internet-based retail software also reduces IT expenses and simplifies complex, multi-software systems that you may currently use.
Key: Customers’ preferences are changing, and c-store owners who adjust to these changes can get more control over inventory, improve their customers’ experiences, and increase profits. Internet-based back-office c-store solutions give c-store owners the information they need to make better decisions.