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How to market a convenience store

Updated on August 4, 2015

Introduction

The knowledge of how to correctly market your convenience store has the ability to grow your customer base and greatly increase your daily sales. Convenience stores now take in one out of every twenty three dollars spent at retail. This means that enormous amounts of money are being spent in these stores, and correct marketing is what will bring your individual store a greater share of that money.

The first thing to consider is that almost 50 percent of the American population is under the age of 35, and how you connect with these two generations is quite different from previous generations. They are more interested in things like their personal health, and living in a sustainable world. They don't spend as much on gasoline as older generations, because they tend to drive more fuel efficient cars, and also to walk more when possible.

There are certain things that you can do when building your convenience store that will help in your marketing later. The first idea has to do with your bathrooms. When drawing up your plans let the architect know to plan the bathrooms carefully, and especially the woman's bathroom, because women are very particular about where they go to the bathroom. After the store is open make sure both bathrooms are cleaned many times each day, and pay particular attention to the ladies bathroom.

If they have a bad experience with a dirty bathroom you can offer all the discounts you want, and most of them won't buy anything from your store. They judge your whole store by the condition of your bathroom.

The second thing you can do if you are in a part of the country that gets quite a bit of rain or snow is to extend the canopy between the gas pumps, and the front door of your store. This keeps your customer dry and invites them to come inside your store. It is like laying out a red carpet to welcome your potential customers into your convenience store. We will now look at things you can do after you are open to market your store, and the first is marketing with your POS system.



Marketing with your pos system

Your POS system offers many chances for marketing, and we will look at each one, but first we need to figure out the proper POS system to use. There are three contenders for the right POS system. The first is from Gilbarco, the second is from NCR, and the third is from Infotouch. Personally I like the one from Gilbarco best, because Gilbarco has 30,000 POS systems in use in the United States today. The newest Gilbarco POS system is the Gilbarco passport V10 that was released in October 2013. Some of the best features include the ability to change gasoline prices from the POS system, verifying the customers age for tobacco and alcoholic beverage sales. Mobile payment, making loyalty cards debit cards, and lottery ticket sales at the gas pumps. There is also the ability for self service ordering at food service counter.

With this POS system and electronic gas price signs you can change the price of gasoline easily whenever you choose. You can also preset the price to change at a certain time. This means you can have one price between the start of the morning rush hour, and the end of the evening rush hour. You can then reset the price to be a couple of pennies higher until the start of the next morning rush hour. At that point you can increase the rush hour price by a penny or two if called for by the wholesale cost of gasoline. That way there are no more nickel jumps in price because of the latest fuel purchase.

The second big benefit is allowing customers to save because of the use of loyalty cards that are also attached to the customers bank account as a debit card. This is the result of an agreement between Gilbarco and the national payment card association. By swiping with the loyalty card you save the debit card swipe fee, because it is an ACH transaction which has no fee. This can save you about a nickel a gallon on gasoline from which you can pass all or part on to the customer. Saving five cents a gallon on gasoline can make a person a steady customer.



Using multi bank ATM's to draw customers

There are more than 14 billion ATM transactions that happen every year in the United States, and 95 percent of banking customers use an ATM at least once a year. This is in contrast to the fact that only 78 percent of banking customers visit a bank teller yearly. The average bank customer visits an ATM at least once a week, and also one of the fastest growing areas of ATM usage is deposit automation by check imaging. This is the process of an ATM making a check deposit for you by taking a picture of a check, and then the bank records that check as deposited in your account. This is all done by computer, and relegates banks and bank branches to the task of being problem solvers.

This is where convenience stores can become more convenient for their customers. By installing multi bank ATM's with deposit imaging they then become more convenient for their customers. This gives that customer another reason to come into the convenience store, and then they will probably buy other needed items, because they are always in a hurry. Next we will consider the typical future convenience store customer

The millennial convenience store customer

When you are opening a new convenience store with all the costs involved you need to consider who your customers are going to be over the next couple decades. The majority of those customers are going to be millennials(18 to 35) or generation Z(under 18). These two groups are totally used to the modern convenience store and are good customers to the store that does thing the right way.

The problem is these two groups are used to convenience store that do everything right. You need nice looking bathrooms that are kept very clean to satisfy these two groups. You also need the latest mobile ordering systems for these customers. However if you have the right mix of food service and other products they can be very loyal customers The millennials are looking for meals with the least clean up afterwords, and they aren't big fans of eating leftovers. They do the main part of their shopping at mass merchandisers like Target and Walmart. However the 40 percent of the food budget that is spent during the week is the money they will spend at your store if you have the right stuff. You have to offer more of the popular grocery products, but the millennials will make you a main destination if you have the right products for sale. With this group the food service will be a big

plus, and both cigarette and gasoline sales will diminish. The millennial group drive more fuel efficient cars, therefore their gasoline purchases will be a lot less. However as a positive they purchase more often from the store, when fueling up. They are the customers that the convenience store is dreaming about as long as they have the right products.

With the millennials you need to offer the latest in mobile ordering to get their business. However with the Gilbarco POS system, and the self service ordering on food service sales you can save on labor, which is the biggest expense for convenience stores. You can also cut card swipe fees which are the second biggest expense by connecting loyalty cards to bank accounts, and using them as debit cards.

Marketing to the younger crowd

The younger crowd today get their information differently, and if you want them as customers you will have to market to them in their way. The more info you have the better and cheaper you can market to them. If you are set up right your POS system should let you know when one of these customers pull in for gas. You can then send them a text message or smartphone coupon about your foodservice item that they have bought in the past. They will appreciate it and you will make an extra sale.

Young customers today are looking for good value in their food purchases, but if you have something special that they really want they will pay extra for it. They really understand the idea of convenience, and will be loyal customers as long as you make things convenient for them.

As far as gasoline is concerned they mostly understand that whether the gas is branded or unbranded the car will run fine. Therefore if you try to get the higher price branded gas charges you will lose quite a bit of their business. If you are trying to use the gasoline to get customers for the store, do yourself a favor and sell unbranded gas you will do a lot better business inside.

Summary

Marketing to your convenience store customers is a real necessity, and especially with the millennial customer. How you do it is also very important to most young customers. Young people value their time, and the more convenient you make the buying process for them the more business they will reward you with. Set up your food service area to offer good value, and you will be surprised at the volume of business you get.

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