'Playbook for Success' Offers Steps to Drive C-store Growth

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'Playbook for Success' Offers Steps to Drive C-store Growth


ATLANTA -- Just ask any winning team and they will tell you the playbook is an important tool on the road to success. Convenience stores are no different. To that end, the NACS/Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (NACS/CCRRC) has examined shopper research to devise the "Playbook for Success: A Three-Step Guide to Growing C-Store Business."

"Operators of any size will find this guide to be an essential business resource," said Bill Bishop, research director for NACS/CCRRC. "Based on in-depth research, the playbook helps retailers better align with and meet their customers' needs."

Much of the content builds on the council's previous report, "C-Growth: Using Shopper Research to Grow C-Store Sales," notably the hierarchy of needs: safety, cleanliness, hospitality, simplicity and ease, and time enrichment.

A key to the playbook is the notion that convenience stores can see growth opportunities where shoppers see convenience. Importantly, c-stores are positioned to help customers manage their life on the go and c-store retailers need to use this to set themselves apart from other channels. Two key life-on-the-go needs are control and diversion, according to the report.

"C-stores already possess big assets that align well with shoppers' busy lives: convenient locations and often fuel, a must-stop-anyway need," the report states. "If a convenience retailer can think beyond the narrow definition of convenience (snacks, drinks and fuel fast) and think more broadly about the needs shoppers bring to convenience shopping occasions, there's a good chance they can find room to grow."

NACS/CCRRC shopper research has found that there are growth opportunities around five types of shoppers who frequent c-stores and the new report goes a step further by offering tips on winning those shoppers.

  • "My Time" shoppers are looking for a store that makes it easy for them to take their time and browse, but also has a staff to help them get on their way quickly. To win this shopper, c-stores should encourage browsing and feature specials prominently, but not place magazines in front of the register where browsers will either block the line or have too little time to make a selection. Service is also critical, the research revealed.
  • "Fresh Value Fast" shoppers want fresh, made-to-order items with toppings they choose. They also want to take a break from the day and may choose to eat at the store. C-stores should consider a layout that makes it easy for these shoppers to place an order when they walk in -- giving then time to browse for accompaniment items like snacks, beverages or even a magazine. Self-service soup and salad stations will appeal to these shoppers that are pressed for time. Cleanliness is essential and if the store offers premade food, there should be a sticker showing how recently it was prepared.
  • "Female-friendly" shoppers are looking for a store that is comfortable and safe -- inside and outside. C-store retailers can win female shoppers with a clean, modern store that has good lighting, and by offering a variety of fresh brewed coffee and a comfortable seating area.
  • "Family Time" shoppers are looking for a c-store that offers affordable treats for the whole family. They also want a safe place to take their children. Retailers can attract this shopper with a range of treat options -- from sensible and healthy to indulgent. There should also be small seating areas or benches for the family to enjoy their treats. Service should be friendly and professional.
  • "My Place" shoppers want a place where they can ground themselves and clear their minds. They are also looking for a place where they can connect with others, possibly over a cup of coffee. To meet these needs, c-stores need staff that goes above and beyond -- even greeting customers by name. Other musts include a self-service coffee bar with food selections, and a counter with stools or a small seating area.