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Building both your gas and convenience businesses.

As C-Gas retailers cope with the reality of declining fuel margins and the resulting need to generate more sales and income from their convenience business, they’re learning that they must be better at serving the needs of their current and potential customers for both fuel and convenience products.

What makes you successful in appealing to both the gas and convenience customers?

Gas Customers:

Your gas customers who typically shop for fuel once or twice a week are looking for:

  • A convenient location either close to home or close to work, and a location with easy access and egress. (It’s worth noting that gas customers often have at least 2 locations between which they split their fuel business.
  • A competitive price.
  • A Brand name that they know and trust, and which gives them a sense of quality and value.
  • A location that looks after all of their convenience needs. (i.e. if they just want gas they can get fast service and be in and out quickly, but if they also want convenience products or services, they can get them.)
  • A location that’s clean, bright, and safe and through its appearance seems to care about the quality of the products sold.
Convenience Customers:

You convenience customers, who will typically shop for convenience products several times a week, many everyday, are looking for many of the same qualities:

  • A convenient location, usually close to home, that’s easy for them to access and quickly get what they want to buy. (If they drive, storefront parking is a key factor.)
  • A store which carries their favorite products, sizes, brands, and which is always in stock of the items they want to buy. (Out-of-stocks are a huge inconvenience.)
  • A store that’s clean, bright, well cared for, organized, easy to shop and find what they want, and selling products at reasonable prices.
  • Staff who are quick, efficient and friendly.
Making gas & convenience work together.

There’s so much in common in the needs of these customers, you’d think the two businesses would work we’ll together. Although in most cases that’s true, it’s also a reality that careful planning helps to make the most of the potential synergies between gas & convenience.

Although gas is the product which often generates much of the traffic for a c-gas location, (a 4 million litre site will generate about 114,000 gas transactions each year), less that 25% of gas customers will buy convenience products when they are buying gas. That means that of the 114,000 gas transactions, only about 27,000 will include convenience products will their gas purchase, and if they spend on average $4.00 each purchase, that’s only $108,000 annually in convenience sales. Not enough on it’s own to support any convenience store.

But if you could encourage the customers making those 114,000 gas purchases to return to your site just one more time in the year to purchase convenience products, at an average purchase of $4, you could generate an additional $450,000 in annual convenience sales.

To get them to come back for convenience items you must:

  • Provide fast, efficient, and friendly service for all of your customers.
  • Through good exterior displays and signage, communicate with your gas customers to encourage them to check out your convenience offer.
  • Make sure your store is clean, bright, organized and well stocked with the products your customers want to buy.
  • Provide well-marked, convenient, (store-front) parking spaces for your customers that are not buying fuel so they can easily stop and shop the store.
  • Think about products and services you can offer that will appeal to your customers and encourage frequent visits (i.e. coffee, newspapers, cigarettes, ATM services, etc.)
  • Pay close attention to the customers who live or work close to your location, and make sure you are looking after their specific needs.

There are significant opportunities to maximize the potential synergy between your gas and convenience customers, but to be successful you must satisfy your customer’s needs on both shopping occasions.

Hugh Large & Associates Inc.
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