Shopper trust is not something that is gained easily. In fact, it has been a shopper need that convenience stores have struggled to champion over the years, writes HIM’s Ruth Cousins.

Keeping consumers happy is now that bit trickier as c-store shoppers have come to expect wider ranges of fresh produce and own-label brands to mimic the offerings found in supermarkets. But trust can be gained in a number of ways and, once achieved, you’ll find loyal customers coming back time and again.

Our research shows that a significant proportion of shoppers are not confident in their local c-store’s ability to stock basic meal solution provisions. More than half (53%) of shoppers did not believe they would be able buy all the ingredients to make a roast dinner in their local store. More basic meals such as spaghetti bolognese, stir fries and curries instilled more faith, but still near to a third of shoppers didn’t believe they would be able to find ingredients needed.

The key for convenience here is to be known for selling solutions and not all the products needed for these meals. Rather than stocking all of the herbs, spices, veg and meat needed to cook a curry from scratch, why not simply stock the key ingredients that busy shoppers will often opt for when looking for quick meal-time solutions – chicken, microwavable rice and a pre-made sauce.

When it comes to building trust with your shoppers, it is integral to understand who they are and what they find important when shopping in your store. There is no such thing as the ‘average’ shopper, so understanding your local demographic is key to keeping them happy and to getting them revisiting your store.

One particular group we’ve been putting a 
focus on is the ‘last of the millennials’ (16- to 24-year-olds). The areas that are most important to these shoppers are availability, cleanliness of store and ease of shop. We spoke to a focus group from this age group and it appears they have high standards when it comes to c-stores. “If it’s dark and dingy I won’t buy fresh from there. I’d maybe go in and buy branded products,” was a common comment.

So, make your store a place that people want to be, and the rest will follow.