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A Matter of Design

Many convenience store operators are emulating their supermarket competitors when it comes to design and layout, noted convenience store designer Jim Mitchell. But the two retail channels attract different consumers and should be marketed accordingly.

Mitchell explained that men and women shop very differently, and since the majority of c-store shoppers are men, operators should respond to those differences.

"If you watch in a supermarket, women are much better at picking out individual items," Mitchell told CSNews Online. "Generally, women will push a cart down an aisle and pick off items as they go. Men, on the other hand, almost always leave their carts in the middle of an aisle, move away and scan grouped products vertically."

Instead, c-store operators try to match the supermarket industry's success by copying its designs and layout. "That's flawed," Mitchell said. "We need our own methods.

"The way to improve sales with men is to group related items in pyramid or gondola displays," Mitchell continued. "For example, a section for cookout supplies would have charcoal on the bottom, lighter fluid above that, paper plates, plastic utensils and napkins grouped together, condiments nearby."

C-stores should also be designed with an understanding of who the core consumer is and what their needs will be.

"You have to think, who needs these products and why, and what other items will they need when they're there," Mitchell said. "The fact is, most men go to a store with a list in their heads and then forget part of it."
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