The convenience channel has grown significantly over the past decade, driven by a combination of factors including investment in category management and the development of missions, as well as investment in driving value for money. However, as price and value for money become more commonplace prerequisites for doing business, the in-store experience and environment are becoming the new differentiator for shoppers.

Convenience retailers who focus on the shopper experience – good displays, great events, engaged staff, great signposting, cleanliness, air-conditioning and lighting – will be the ones who have more satisfied shoppers and drive increased future shopping intentions.

According to our research, shoppers are telling us that the areas most important to them (ranked out of 10) are not tangible such as range (8.60) and quality of fresh (8.08), but deal with their experience in a store. The top three are: staff friendliness (9.19); speed of service (9.04); and ease of shop (8.94).

If we take a closer look at what shoppers mean by ease of shop, a factor that has grown in importance by 5% in the past year, shoppers say samples and giveaways (identified by 41%), clear signage (34%), store cleanliness (34%), great displays (31%), better lighting (14%) and staff knowledge and upselling(13%) are all important.

As shoppers visit their local c-store on average 200 times a year there is plenty of opportunity for staff to engage with their regular shoppers – 77% of shoppers say that staff in their c-store are friendlier than those in supermarkets, and 56% say they are more knowledgeable. Staff friendliness is the second biggest driver after location. Additionally, having more staff in c-stores was believed to be the biggest driver to creating a better shopping experience by 29% of shoppers, while 12% cited help with packing and 28% of shoppers indicating that better signage would improve the shopping experience.

While the basic drivers of friendly staff, long opening hours, value for money and local staff, along with range, availability and fresh, are still vital, the in-store environment should also be used to support and enhance customer satisfaction.