From the blog Business Ideas for New Convenience Store Owners
The convenience store industry has experienced steady growth over the last decade. Between 2006 and 2016, the total number of retail stores in the United States has increased by over 10%, with 32% of the growth coming from convenience stores. An industry that has grown by 63% over the last 30 years is full of opportunity for business owners, but differentiating your convenience store is important to being successful.
Building customer loyalty in this industry can be an uphill battle. The convenience store customers’ chief concern is speed and ease of purchasing, not which store they patronize. Taking a creative approach to the layout, product offerings, and marketing techniques of your new convenience store will create a loyal following of customers.
Of course, when opening a convenience shop, it’s essential that your store has a high volume of stock. Without stock, your business would lose customers and sales. That’s why it’s important to keep it all locked securely at the back of the store for example. For reliable and strong doors, you could always consider using one of the Commercial Door Services in Roseville, or one closer to where your store is located. Industrial doors can help to keep businesses afloat, as they try and deter people from breaking into that store and stealing the stock. Keep your business safe and secure by considering your security features too.
Furthermore, here is a helpful roundup of some ways to differentiate your new convenience store from the competition. With these tips and the support of your retail payment processing partner, you can take advantage of an industry ripe with opportunity.
Choose a Niche That Makes You Stand Out
Instead of taking a reactive approach and focusing on competitors’ strategies, find what is most important to your customers and make your store the best at it. Instead of trying to be “everything to everyone,” focus on one niche that will make your business stand out.
When you have found a niche that will give your store added appeal to potential customers, tailor your inventory to meet those tastes. For instance, you could make the centerpiece of your store a curated stock of local craft beers with a build-your-own-six-pack program, or a robust selection of artisan roasted coffee beans and brewing accessories. Becoming known as a well-respected outlet for these popular products gives shoppers a specific reason to visit your store.
Another idea is to introduce healthy choices into your merchandise mix. Organic fresh produce or a customizable smoothie bar are low-cost ways to provide your customers something different than standard convenience store fare.
Consider Fresh Prepared Foods
For decades, uniformity was a defining feature of the convenience store industry. Stores were the same size, offered the same products, and adhered to the same layouts. Today, convenience stores come in a wide range of store sizes and layouts. These changes make it easier for your store to take advantage of opportunities not available with the traditional convenience store model.
For instance, many new convenience stores have been constructed in what is known as the “expanded format.” With additional floorspace, one trend in the industry is offering more fresh foods and prepared meals on the sales floor. NACS reports the top convenience store brands sell three times more prepared foods than those at the bottom of the industry.
Convenience stores of the past had few prepared or fresh food offerings – typically limited to pre-packaged sandwiches and a basket of fruit. The expanded store layout allows enough space to add prepared food operations, a second register area, and even some seating. Some convenience store brands have even turned prepared food into a marketing tactic with outlandish but buzzworthy products like The General sub sandwich from GetGo or the QuikTrip’s Bac’n QuikShake.
Research company IRI reports that two-thirds of shopping trips are “fill-in” excursions, which account for one-third of grocery expenditures. These customers are looking for the quick and easy shopping experience that convenience stores provide. Making room on the sales floor for grocery staples like milk, bread, and eggs allows you to capture this market of “fill-in” shoppers.
Delivery by drone may not be on the immediate horizon, but there are resources available that allow you to expand the reach of your convenience store. Tech-based delivery companies like DoorDash and Postmates offer delivery from a wide range of outlets, including convenience stores.
Industry giant 7-Eleven has already begun to partner with these businesses, providing delivery service to several major metropolitan areas. Offering delivery service is the kind of outside-the-box approach that differentiates your establishment from the competition.
Delivery service is a business idea that can improve sales, but it doesn’t bring customers into your store. Other technological innovations like Amazon Locker are a great way to get feet in the door of your convenience store. Amazon Lockers are self-service kiosks where Amazon customers can pick up packages or drop off returns. Applying to be an Amazon Locker host is simple, but there are a few location and electrical requirements your store must meet to qualify.
With a little ingenuity and creative planning, your convenience store could become a destination that shoppers go out of their way to patronize. All it takes is some creativity and elbow grease to make your shop truly unique and build relationships with your customers that can last a lifetime.