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In the past five years, more than half of the 20 largest c-store chains have gone through some sort of merger or acquisition. According to the NACS 2020 SOI Report, there are 150,274 c-stores in the US, a 1.6% decrease from 2019 primarily driven by the decrease in single-site operators. During 2020, the industry also saw some of its largest mergers in addition to witnessing dozens of smaller chains exit the market because of the changing industry conditions. Strong economic growth is a key contributor to the consolidation trend, along with strong competition surrounding wallet share and profitability. Convenience is one of the few retail channels that continues to produce year-over-year growth. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), inside sales per transaction grew more than 18% in 2020, driven by gains in merchandise sales and overall sales growth of 1.5% despite less than desirable market conditions. To account for this rapidly evolving environment, savvy convenience retailers have focused on closing the gap between what consumers expect and what retailers can deliver. Here are four key steps you can take to help level the playing field for your business. 1. Focus on Service Outperforming your competitors in customer service is an effective way to gain new customers and retain their loyalty. According to NewVoiceMedia’s 2018 Serial Switchers report, businesses lose $75 billion a year due to poor customer service. The same report found that nearly 70 percent of consumers are willing to change brands if they have a negative customer service experience. Whether you’re ensuring your stores are adequately staffed during peak traffic times or that your wholesale customers are getting the products they need when they need them, customer service is a key differentiator for today’s consumers. Use this to your advantage by building a customer service-focused culture and delivering exceptional experiences during every encounter. 2. Take the Tech Leap For small or regional petroleum wholesalers or convenience retailers, technology is a great equalizer when going up against larger competition. For example, ERP software can automate time-consuming manual processes and centralize operational control while delivering valuable data that reveals consumer buying habits so you can build more effective promotions. Fuel pricing solutions can help you optimize pricing strategies and maximize your margins. Lottery management software can reduce shrink and ticket inventory management workload, helping your employees focus on providing great customer service. The key takeaway is that…

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