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As a convenience store owner, you may have gotten used to the hum-drum of business. People come in for a set product you offer at your convenient location, and then off they go. Tomorrow, they may or may not do the same. Same foot-traffic, same expectation, and same result. But we’re here to tell you that your store can actually be so much more. With a little digging and research, we have thought up a few creative ways to gin up business for you to really give your bottom line a boost. Know that your convenience store actually has an incredible amount of potential. 

Now, here’s what we had in mind to attract those new customers and help retain your loyal base by rethinking your business just a touch: 

Expand the “convenience” of convenience stores

Most convenience store shoppers come in search of food. So, what “on the go” items are they looking for? Well, it seems demands are changing. According to the 2019 food trends at convenience stores, it’s time to think healthy. Superfoods are popular so take a moment to consider whether you offer such nutritious items (such as veggie chips and other non-GMO food) and be sure to place them front and center. The data supports this. According to the Convenience Store News, the culinary vision’s panel forecast says 73% of consumers prefer superfoods that provide a boost of protein or antioxidants. So, perhaps think of a “meal deal” as a way to encourage folks to come in  - on a daily basis - for their mid-day grub away from the office? Next up is cannabudiol (CBD). Depending on what country you live in and the laws surrounding this product, it can be found in a variety of products (coffee, candy, cookings and more). According to the National Restaurant Association 2019 What’s Hot Culinary Survey, 77% named cannabis/CBD-infused drinks as the No. 1 trend and cannabis/CBD-infused foods as the second most popular trend. 

People come into stores looking for those quick grab-n-go items. Included among that list are even mini desserts -  yes, dessert. Even in the health craze we are in, 43% of convenience store customers wish mini desserts were an option, however as of 2017, only 27% of such stores offered them. Finally, think about offering less meat like beef jerky packets and more plant-based products to include those that are vegan and gluten-free. Studies show that 83% of people are incorporating more plant-based foods into their diet and they will come into your store seeking it. As such, look to offer green snacks, dairy and protein alternatives consisting of nuts, seeds, beans, water lentils and algae and be sure to place them right at the front so customers spot these hot items right away! 

Think and expand what you offer

Customers often show up at a convenience store for a quick one or two items. You want to encourage them to see the convenience of the myriad of other products you offer - beyond food and toiletry items. Some convenience stores have gone beyond to offer other services like bus tickets, stamps, and parking displays allowing you to park in the city. Depending on the country you live in, there might just be more opportunities than what you realize, so you should look at just which one of these local, municipal-level items you might be able to offer. Know that once you get them on your premises to buy stamps, customer will be all the more likely to remember that carton of milk they needed for tonight. Be sure and put a sign up so people know to ask if the item is not obvious. Also, know that this sets you apart from your competitors who may not offer these less traditional items offered in other stores. 

In the day and age of Amazon and other online delivery services, one other idea might be to serve as a collect and drop off service. Offering this service gives customers convenience when they aren’t able to be at home to get a package and it makes it easier for them to grab something else in your store when they are picking up the latest gadget they ordered. If you are open 24 hours or later than standard business hours, this is a huge draw. The only catch is to make sure you have the capacity for this service in terms of staffing and space since holidays such as Christmas can prove extremely busy as most postal workers know! Learn how to do this here with relative ease.

Finally, another idea is to have a cashpoint or ATM in your store. Why? Well, according to the latest research, having a cash dispenser in a convenience store increases basket-spend by an average of 65%. So yes, even though most people today might choose to pay by card, or electronically, the draw of having an ATM for cash-strapped customers is unbeatable. People will come to your store to get it and be that much more likely to spend.

So fresh and so clean

While most items in a convenience store have a long shelf life, offering fresh produce (fruit and vegetables) financially and aesthetically makes good sense. Indeed, you will notice more standard grocery stores have restructured their stores to have the fresh produce section located in the very front as you walk through the entrance of the store. Ever wonder why? It looks better and is meant to maximize shoppers’ interest in being more health conscious for starters. As a convenience store, the same theory holds true. Fresh produce gives an air of freshness over what most stale convenience stores offer and this gives an excellent first impression. As they walk into your store, grabbing a banana or an apple on the go should look and feel easy and should become one more reason to pop in.

As you set up a produce section, do not be afraid to highlight what is local and in season since this information increasingly matters to buyers. It costs you nothing to highlight these details. Placing produce in a box out front also gives the feeling of color and vibrancy to an otherwise drab exterior. Even think of selling flowers and placing them out front to snazz up the entryway of your premises. 

Finally, if there is a way to show you are environmentally conscious, go for it. Think of instituting a zero plastic policy and have customers pack up their produce with a reusable or paper bag with your store logo on it. For the environmentally “unconscious” it won’t matter one bit, but it is a slight added edge for people who do care and are eco-picky about where they shop. 

With these ideas, we hope you feel armed to make a few slight changes to your convenience store business to easily bring in that next customer!

Jessica Brown
Jessica is a globally renowned writer specializing in International Relations, Economics and Political Affairs. A graduate from Brown and Cambridge Universities she now focuses on helping small to medium businesses grow their bottom line.
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