The key reason shoppers use convenience stores is simple.  Convenience.  Convenience stores need to ensure they focus specifically on providing increasingly convenient solutions to shoppers’ everyday needs.  Also, with the competition of supermarkets and discounters increasing, convenience has to remain competitive by offering something extra to build trust and loyalty.  C-stores have plenty of strengths to leverage as they are the number two choice for services, news, lottery and tobacco after newsagents.

‘Services’ – such as electronic bank payments, post offices and ATMs - are a top five shopping mission for c-stores, accounting for 5% of footfall to the UK convenience market.  The number of shoppers on this shopping mission remains steady compared to 2012, as retailers acknowledge the footfall-driving benefits of services.  It’s a bigger driver than the ‘meal for tonight’ mission, but is not often treated as such.  These shoppers visit more than three times a week, so it’s important to ensure staff friendliness to keep them loyal, and upselling should also be encouraged. Some 15% of service shoppers browse the whole store, so there is definitely an opportunity to drive incremental sales. 

One way for c-stores to differentiate themselves is to embrace new technology to make customers’ lives and their shopping experience easier.  Research from our Future of Convenience study found the top two things that would make shoppers’ lives easier would be if a c-store offered post office services and became a collection point for goods offered on the internet. One in four shoppers order goods online or through a catalogue at least once a fortnight.  It’s not something that everyone can do though, but if you think this is right for your store, it is definitely something to think about.

Only 18% of c-store shoppers had heard of Collect +, so if this is a service that you are offering make sure your shoppers know about it.  It’s a great service c-stores could offer, with a growing number of online retailers being involved including and Amazon Marketplace.  It’s a perfect solution for shoppers who no longer have to lose their Saturdays picking up parcels they’ve missed, and it also lets shoppers have their lunchtimes back!