Customer and store owner/staff relationships have always been at the very heart of what makes the convenience industry unique and special. And things certainly haven’t changed, writes HIM’s Ruth Cousins.

According to our very latest research, 74% of shoppers are satisfied with the staff friendliness and helpfulness at their local convenience store, and almost a third say it is a main driver to store.

As we see competition for c-stores continuing to grow with the spread of not only supermarkets but now discounters, approachable and comprehensible employees should act as a unique selling point for local retailers for drawing in customers. So how can you encourage this sort of attitude among your staff where it may not have already been inherently adopted?

Ensuring that your staff members feel valued and trusted is an important tool that can have a mutual benefit for any c-store. Throwing a Christmas staff party or celebrating team members’ birthdays can create a great team spirit and ultimately make staff members feel as though they are appreciated. It may seem simple, but a happy atmosphere among staff will flow into a happy atmosphere for shoppers.
While friendly and helpful staff ranks top in shopper importance’s in HIM data, it is crucial to note that we are living in the era of the busy shopper. Not all will want to stand around and have a chat at their local store, although most retailers will know some that certainly do!

As many as 46% of shoppers we spoke to said that speed of service was very important to them, therefore equal emphasis should be placed on having well-trained and efficient staff to serve customers. This will become ever more important as tobacco legislation continues to change and grow in complexity. Ensuring that your staff are well versed in the new laws and are aware of the tobacco products stocked will prevent queues 
and add to the perception of a well-run and efficient store.

As the sun finally begins to show its face for the summer months ahead, what better time to get staff smiling as your store benefits from a rush of customers.