As a convenience store operator, there are few things that should be more important than driving repeat business from customers. We all want our customers to have a positive experience that encourages customer loyalty and inevitably another visit down the road. Increasing convenience store frequency is imperative if you’re focused on raising profits. On average, frequent shoppers only account for 15% of a business’s customer base, but that 15% accounts for at least 1/3 of all your revenue. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why increasing convenience store frequency can greatly impact your bottom line. So today we’ll give you some solid tips on how you can engage your customers and start to improve your customers’ convenience store frequency of shopping!
So often, when we think about ways to increase profits, we think about the products we’re selling. This is a backwards approach, instead we need to shift the focus on to the customer. By taking a guest-centric approach you’ll be able to consider who your customers are, what they want, and how they want it delivered. When you start thinking about your customers first, you’ll have a better idea of the motivators that drive or deter them to your store and you can begin to implement processes that make your store more valuable to each customer.
EXPERT ADVICE – Don’t just lump your customers into one large group, segment them into smaller groups so you can REALLY get to know them. What drives a teenager to return to your shop is going to be totally different from the motivators that drive a dad with his three kids to your shop. By knowing the full range of customers shopping in your store you will have better success at increasing convenience store frequency as a whole.
Consistency is crucial when it comes to increasing convenience store frequency. Guests typically stop at your store because it’s convenient and on their route. However, CSNews reports that speed of service, ease of parking, cleanliness or store and the selection of portable, affordable, fresh and quality prepared foods, all impact the overall experience. If you can consistently deliver on those key factors, you’ll create a reputation which will attract return customers and increased purchase orders. Additionally if you can do this better than the neighboring convenience stores, you’ll start to see guests going out of their way to stop at your store over another who fails at consistency.
REAL LIFE APPLICATION – As a millennial, a key cstore demographic, consistency is of the utmost importance to me. I go 10 minutes out of my way each morning on my way to work, to stop at the specific cstore I like. This cstore consistently offers fresh coffee at an unbeatable price point. Their service is always impeccable and I’ve yet to have a bad cup of coffee. This is the type of loyalty you’ll be driving to your store when you provide a consistently convenient environment.
Loyalty programs can be a real game changer when it comes to increasing convenience store frequency. There are two fundamental qualities any successful loyalty program, first is that the barrier to enter has to be SO EASY. Don’t make people jump through hoops to join a loyalty program, because you’ll quickly find out that they won’t. There also has to be a clear advantage to being a loyalty member. Cumberland Farms, for example, has a loyalty program you can sign up for through your cell phone. Their program saves users $0.10/gallon on gas and has rewards when you meet certain thresholds of spending. Their loyalty program is easy to join and has serious benefits for frequent users – this is the golden combination if you’re looking for a loyalty model to follow.
EXPERT ADVICE – Remember how you’re focusing on the customer first? Try setting up customer specific deals through your loyalty program. Each customer segment will be driven by different value propositions, so the more customized you can make your program, the better!
Customers like to see a variety of choices if they’re going to be a frequent customer. While many of us are creatures of habit, you need to give the ability for customers to switch up their routine and have plenty of options available to them. You can amplify your fresh variety by offering limited-time-only flavors and variations on your most popular products. Regularly rotating through different flavors of coffee are an easy way to drive increased frequency and bring customers back in when their favorite flavors return. This is also an easy way for you to test out possible permanent products and variations. Should one of your varieties sell like wild fire you’ll have a good basis for adding it to the lineup permanently.
REAL LIFE APPLICATION – Although not a convenience store, consider the additional business Starbucks is able to drive during the fall when they bring back their pumpkin spice flavorings. The success of this limited time flavor has been so great that each year they bring it back earlier than the year prior. You can create similar magic in your store by discovering which flavors your customers crave most – because again, you’re putting the customer first.
With these four guidelines in mind, you should have no problem increasing your convenience store’s guest frequency. The main idea behind each tip is to put the customer first and really provide an experience for them that far exceeds their expectation of their neighborhood cstore. The more customized and customer-centric you can make your shopping experience, the more likely it is that your customers will want to return. Time to get to know your customers!