The concept of using services to drive footfall to convenience stores may not seem anything new, but it’s as relevant today as it’s ever been, writes HIM’s Molly Wilmot.

The latest research from our Convenience Tracking Programme – full results are out later this month – shows that services are just as big a footfall driver as meal for tonight, with as many shoppers telling us they are visiting their local store to use a service as they are to buy items for their evening meal. Yet this is seldom reflected in space or communication in a store.

It’s important to also recognise that shoppers coming in to use a service, such as PayPoint, aren’t just using the store for their bill payment/mobile phone top-up or similar; they’re often buying several items and spending much more than your average shopper, as well as visiting frequently.

Our research shows that 66% of shoppers would visit a convenience store more if there was a post office there. If having a post office service is feasible for your store, it’s definitely an option worth considering.

When thinking about services, there is also plenty of opportunity to innovate; could you team up with a local dry-cleaners to offer laundry services? Be a destination for shoppers to send online deliveries (via schemes like Collect+)? A wine specialist to run tastings? Whatever the service, an original idea will help you stand out from the crowd.

When deciding what you want to offer, consider your local customer base – are they typically retired, living in single households, or child-free couples? Consider the most relevant offers for your shoppers, something that will save them time or money, and communicate this solution clearly. 
It doesn’t have to be fancy POS; sometimes the simplest of messages are the most effective, and there’s nothing to say that corporate messages are the most emotive for your shoppers.

Remember that services offered for the local community can be a strong USP against competitors, particularly small supermarkets and high street discounter chains, who in many cases don’t have the flexibility to offer these solutions to their shoppers.