The NACs February magazine shared the stats about c-Store growth in America. In 1983 there were 80,900 stores and now there are over 151,000. For 8 of the last 10 years, there has been growth in the number of stores. This means more competition for everyone. Depending where you are located, there are different types of competition.
Small Town – One Player
In Minnesota – where we are based – there are lots of small towns that have C-stores. They may be the only c-store in town. Do they still have competition? Absolutely. Although they may be the only store in town, many of the residents drive to other towns for their jobs. So C-stores in other towns are competing for your residents. What are some key tips for being the preferred c-store for every resident in your small town?
- Stay competitive with gas prices.
- Offer items in the store that your customers want and need.
- Participate in community events to stay connected.
- Appreciate your customers by directly giving them offers or rewards for their business.
Mid-Size Town – 2 – 4 Players
Now you have other C-store options that are easy to access to the residents in your community. The key to being successful is to figure out a way to stand out and be different. Each month the NACs Magazine highlights new and innovative ideas. Some may be great for your location, others may not make sense at all. Here are some ideas:
- Encourage your customers to provide you with email or mobile phone numbers so you can make their shopping experience better because they will receive special offers only available to them. Demonstrate that you appreciate their business.
- Introduce unique food or beverage offerings. Just make sure you have a way to tell everyone about it!
- Stay competitive with gas prices.
- Make it fun to shop in your store. Great employee engagement and unique specials will help drive customers back into the store.
Based on stats from NACs, the average person in a metropolitan area has 3 different C-Stores that they frequent. The one that is on the way to work. The one that is on the way home from work (believe it or not these are often not the same because of traffic or because people run errands on the way home). The one that is closest to home for the evening or weekend fill-up.
Loyalty is much more difficult in a larger metropolitan area unless you have many locations. If you are a single location operator or have a few locations, it is harder to keep your customers coming back to you.
- Know what your competition is doing and try to do something different. You are likely up against companies with lots of marketing dollars and can run radio and TV ads in addition to endless inserts.
- How do you compete with very limited marketing dollars available? Connect with as many customers as you can. When customers come into the store, encourage them to provide you with an email or mobile number by having offers that will mean something to them. Once you can connect, you will become top of mind. The direct connection via email and text hardly costs anything and directly connects you to your customer.
Many loyalty programs are multi-merchant programs where the customer can choose from many different c-stores and still get their points and rewards. Keep your program within your control and make it personal for your customers.
The C-Store industry is extremely competitive. There are many very creative C-Store owners who are standing out against the competition. If you don’t get the NACs magazine – click here to access some of their articles and ideas.
Tecmark has several marketing solutions to help you drive more customers into your store including email and text marketing. Plus we can track purchases so you know who your best customers are. We have a lot of competition for your business with some very large players. We want to be different by providing simple, low cost solutions with support that lasts as long as you are a customer! We love to see our customers succeed and grow!
Good luck - we are cheering for you!