Georgina Wild of HIM considers how to encourage more top-up shoppers to visit c-stores

Top-up shopping is the number one shopping mission, especially in neighbourhood stores, and these shoppers on average spend 24% more than the average weekly shopper, making them incredibly valuable to c-stores.

However, a high proportion are choosing to top-up in supermarkets and, with smaller format multiples increasing, their presence this number is only likely to grow.

So what's the answer? We need to create a full top-up solution, where range, price, promotions, merchandising and layout reflect how important the top-up mission is in a c-store.

HIM research & consulting has just spoken to more than 1,000 c-store customers and 21% of them told us they were top-up shopping elsewhere because other stores have a 'wider or better range'.

Milk, bread and fruit & veg are the top three categories bought when topping up, but 31% of shoppers maintain that c-stores don't offer enough fruit & veg. As fruit & veg is a key category to get right in order to drive credibility with top-up shoppers, why not introduce 'fruit /vegetable of the month', or nominate a 'fruit & veg champion' who can take care of the category? Ensure local fruit & veg is available and labelled accordingly, and the range is updated at least seasonally. Appearance is often as important as range.

As many as 44% of UK adults intend to cook more meals from scratch in the next 12 months, and fresh meat & veg are core components of many meals. So consider bringing meal components together on a 'meal solutions' display (including pos material) to inspire shoppers and drive incremental sales.

Price is the top barrier to top-up shopping in a c-store, but often it's the perception which needs addressing. Find out how you compare to your competitors for key categories, and ensure your prices are in line with these. Consider price matching competitors for top brands/products, and ensure you communicate clearly in stores and externally.

The key is communication, so find ways of letting shoppers know how good your pricing is. In fact, 58% of shoppers say leaflets advertising promotions would encourage them to visit more often.