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Is your Store really Convenient?

The Webster’s Dictionary defines convenient as “suitable, handy, causing little or no trouble”. It therefore stands to reason that the key factor in the success of any given convenience store is its location. For a consumer to regularly shop at a convenience store it must first be located close to where they live, work or travel.

Although “location” is of paramount location, and the specific location will determine the profile of the customers who shop in that location, location is not the only important factor in determining which convenience store a consumer will patronize.

Retailers that are paying attention to their customers needs understand that a great many of their current customers are starved for time and looking for ways to make their shopping, their errands and in fact their life, easier and more hassle-free.

Too often our “convenience store”, is not really convenient and doesn’t solve the consumer’s time problem because it is difficult to shop, it is often out of stock, or it doesn’t carry the products we want or need.

Here are some questions that are intended to get you to think about whether your store is really satisfying your customers need for convenience.

If selling gasoline is part of your offer:
  • Is it easy for customers to get in and out of your site quickly and safely?
  • Do you offer self-serve so your customers who are in a hurry can control the transaction themselves and don’t have to wait for an attendant?
  • Are your pumps high-speed so that they can fill up quickly?
  • Do you offer “pay at pump” for those customers who don’t have the time or don’t want to come into the store?
  • Are your pump islands always well stocked with squeegees, paper towels, washer fluid, etc?
  • Do you have an attendant out at the islands during the very busy times to help direct customers and move the traffic?
  • Do you merchandise on the pump islands the products that your customers need and expect?
For your convenience store:
  • If you are not open 24 hours, is your store open when your customers want to shop and do you clearly post your hours of operation so they know when you are open?
  • Do you have lots of convenient store front parking so your customers can easily park and get in and out quickly?
  • Does your store layout make it easy for customers to move around your store or are your aisles narrow and crowded so that it is difficult for them to shop the entire store?
  • Can customers easily see your entire store, and it is well signed so that they can find the products that they what to buy?
  • Do you make sure that your equipment; (beverage dispensers, ATM’s, etc) are always working properly?
  • Do you carry the products, brand names, and sizes that your customers want to buy and are you always looking for new products or services that they might need?
  • Are you always in-stock of the products that your customers want to buy? (Remember if you are out of stock, and your customers have to go elsewhere to get what they want you are no longer convenient.)
  • Are your products always clean, fresh and within code dates?
  • Are your staff fast and efficient in the way they process customer’s transactions?
  • Do they always try to be helpful in answering customer’s questions or solving customer’s problems?
  • During your busy periods do you bring in extra staff to be able to process customers more quickly?
  • Are your prices competitive and do you only price with a small and reasonable convenience premium, or are you known for charging high and unreasonable prices?

If you can honestly answer all of these questions with a “yes” then you are doing an outstanding job of looking after your customers’ needs and your store is not only convenient but probably very successful. If however the answer to most of the questions is “no” then you need to re-think how you are operating your store and what you need to do differently.

Increasingly, as your customers feel pressed for time, they will seek out a retail store that can make their life easier and more convenient. You need to make sure you’re that retailer.

Hugh Large & Associates Inc.
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