Driving Retail Opportunities

JohnNewThe NACS Show is my annual reminder of just how much innovation exists among the many talented retailers and suppliers I communicate with every day. I expect this year’s NACS Show to be one of the most interesting I’ve ever attended.

While the event has so much to offer, retailers can’t lose sight of the fact that government regulation is hanging over key core categories, such as tobacco and foodservice. It is imperative more than ever that operators maximize every square inch of selling space because they may not have tobacco to fall back on anymore.

The NACS Show and the pages that follow are guaranteed to offer you a multitude of solutions across dozens of categories to realize each store’s sales potential. Don’t let this opportunity go by without locating a handful of good ideas to implement or at least test in the coming year, whether it’s expanding the foodservice offering, frozen beverages, salty snacks or investing in new technology to help stores run more efficiently.

Today’s investments could be the difference between staying afloat or watching your business go up in smoke.

Satisfying Loyal Customers
According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of a store’s sales come from 20% of its customers. This means to keep customers returning, operators must take all the necessary steps to keep this core group of customers loyal to their stores.

The easiest, and possibly the most affordable, way to build customer loyalty is to provide outstanding service. Let’s face it, delivering top-notch service has never been more important. Between rising unemployment rates and the stagnant economy, consumers’ discretionary spending is much more selective, creating significant competitive challenges for retailers and suppliers alike.

The ability to maintain a loyal customer base requires customer-centric strategies in collaboration with suppliers. It’s no secret that when store sales increase, everyone wins. To give you an idea of just how important the retail environment is, customer service experts seem to agree no matter what customers say they want, what they’re really looking for is something special. They can’t quite describe it, but when they find it, they know.

Those little details of the buying experience may appear intangible. But what brands you sell and price is usually less important to customers than a great shopping experience.

Other tips for generating loyal, repeat customers include:
Treat them well. People simply want to be treated with respect and fairness. They want to feel like valued customers, whose time and opinions matter. If people can’t trust you to treat them right, they certainly won’t trust you with their money.

Provide an efficient buying process. From start to end, did each step of the sale go smoothly? Could the buyers get the answers or help they needed? Could they find what they came for? Were prices and payment options clear and easy to deal with?

Eliminate aggravation. A buyer is willing to endure a little inconvenience, such as a line during rush hour, but not for long and not every time. Your job is to minimize inconveniences, not treat them like business as usual.
Avoid mind games. Selling isn’t an opportunity to manipulate a customer. No one wants to feel like a sucker or to be misled about prices or quality. Even a hint of such treatment destroys trust. And if a person feels tricked into buying, they won’t buy again.

Walt Disney said, “Do what you do so well that people want to bring their friends to see you do it again.” This is a timeless classic from a master showman. My challenge to convenience store owners is to study the solutions offered at the NACS Show and consider how you can elevate your performance to drive a steady stream of new and repeat customers.

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