By Marianne Hillhouse
The summer travel season is over. Did your c-store sites capture the sales you were expecting? Did your facilities stand up to demand and deliver what shoppers wanted? Are you riding the industry trend of record in-store sales? Fuel demand may fluctuate, but the c-store experience can excite customers and drive sales to offset the historic profit squeeze coming from low gas prices.
Fall is the season to think about whether your site's performance reached its potential. And if there’s a chance that there's more fuel volume and c-store sales out there waiting to be captured, it’s time to ask if a remodel, upgrade or refurbish makes sense for a site.
- More convenience. To draw customers, a site must fulfill those customers’ needs. That starts with convenience. Efficient flow through the shopping and purchase experience is crucial. For example, how easy is it to maneuver into the lot and around the property? Are there enough fueling positions to meet customer needs at peak times? Are there enough parking spaces for the c-store customer? If you have an opportunity to expand a site's footprint, this is the season to make that move.
- More consistency. Consistency across a network is a huge positive for shoppers, and it’s a factor that's often overlooked, especially in networks that have growth through acquisition. Consistency is felt at the top level of brand all the way down to store layout and product offering. A consistent brand builds trust and signals the right customer expectations based on the brand’s tenets. Inside the store, shoppers like the familiarity of knowing where to look to quickly pick up the products they need. Raising the bar on network consistency may mean re-branding or redesigning store interiors.
- Compete with new offerings. Trends and customers are always in flux, motivating retailers to find the best means to compete in their trade area: to at least maintain, and preferably expand their sales and volume throughput. Meeting those trends and consumer needs may mean a facility face-lift, or a complete revamp. Inside the store, convenience retailers are tapping into local tastes and preferences to guide their expanded merchandise mix and other offerings. Hot pizza, coffee and other food and beverage offerings are turning “maybe” stops into “must” stop destinations. But those new offerings may require a new store layout or bigger footprint.
- Keep up with the market. In some parts of the country, retailers are asking whether they should add other ancillary products, like a car wash or quick service restaurant. In other parts, big-box retailers have moved in and changed the competitive zone. To maintain a competitive advantage, retailers may need to change their hours of operation, add another register, or offer a cash/credit discount to make sites stand out as a preferred place to fuel up and shop.
ASK ‘WHAT IF’ AND FORECAST FUTURE RESULTS
So what if you remodel? Refurbish? Redesign? If you make specific changes to your station, what return on fuel volume or c-store sales can you expect as a result of those changes? There’s only one way to forecast the future success of the changes you’re thinking about: a Single Site Analysis from Kalibrate. Our scenario-driven process was designed to give retailers a cost-effective way to explore multiple “what if” scenarios to bridge the distance between where their performance is today and where they want to be in the future.