Consumer interest in fresh options at local c-stores continues to increase.

With traditional revenue streams declining at European c-stores, there is a need to shift focus to inventory and promotions in order to drive customer loyalty to the store. But supplying the right inventory, at the right cost, is only half the battle. Understanding and targeting your most frequent customers, and those likely to become customers, separates profitable retailers from those struggling to stay out of the red.

Too often c-store owners are more concerned with unreliable fuel profit margins than creating effective in-store pricing and promotions that cultivate a loyal customer base. These promotions should drive traffic to your store throughout the week, regardless of fuel prices, or fuel need. You should turn these consumers’ focus to promotions and loyalty programs as motivators to draw them to your in-store product offerings.

Understanding the breakdown of European c-store consumer demographics

On average, your customers divide into three demographic age groups. Those under age 29 make up 28 percent of the demographic, visitors between ages of 30-49 comprise 42 percent, and consumers above age 50 make up the remaining 30 percent. These numbers shift year-

over-year as the millennial demographic continues to grow and impact the retail sector, shaping which services and products stores provide. These shoppers demand short queues, fast service, and mobile capabilities at your stores.

For 11 percent of consumers, food and beverage shopping rates as a stressful experience. With an added 19 percent of consumers shopping in a rush while at the store, your focus should be on making the in-store experience as accessible and welcoming as possible. Accessibility is especially important for high-impulse-buy items, as 51 percent of your consumers impulse buy. Only 1-in-5 consumers rate their c-store experience as enjoyable, leaving a large margin for improvement to their retail shopping experience. Shifting your staff’s focus to the customer, instead of stocking shelves, can be the difference between a consumer finding and making a purchase, or abandoning their effort.

Eight out of ten shoppers abandon their purchase due to a long queue. Store optimisation is key in retaining these customers and moving them through queues quickly. A big part of the solution is having the right staff in the right place at the right time. Your employees are the face of your brand, and workforce mismanagement can manifest in multiple forms, such as long queues, slow service, lack of assistance, and increased potential for shrink. Eliminating these factors appeals to the growing millennial customer demographic, developing a loyal customer.

Stock the inventory consumers most want and need

Once you’re properly staffed, it’s time to make sure you’re properly stocked. That means ensuring your stores have the items your consumers want. Over the past five years, made-to-order meals have increased to 25 percent of all orders placed. Consumer demand for personalisation is up as well with 33 percent of European consumers expecting customisation as part of their order experience. Those same shoppers would like to engage you and your store via a mobile device. In the European market, non-alcoholic beverages and fresh foods lead convenience sales, with fresh products making up 46 percent of all in-store sales. Promoting these types of items via mobile can prompt consumers to visit your store, increasing traffic.

Optimising c-store operations is critical in today’s environment, and investing in the right software ensures you get it right. Using food supplier/order management tools can help shift your focus to vendor management and creating promotions for your store. Implementing an inventory support solution empowers staff to spend more time at the register and assist customers. Stock optimisation solutions aid in proper inventory placement within the store layout, keeping customers returning for those on-the-go items they love.

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