Businesses of all sizes are grappling with the reality that during a period of inflation everything is more expensive. It’s more expensive to make products. It’s more expensive to operate stores. For consumers, that means it’s more expensive to live day-to-day. For convenience store (or C-store) operators, it means they risk losing their Share of Wallets to other fiscal priorities, with customers reducing their discretionary spend on in-store purchases. Share of Wallet is a marketing metric used to calculate the percentage of a customer’s spending on a specific product, service or brand.
When Share of Wallets decreases, one solution is to find more wallets! And in today’s world, that means meeting potential customers where they are: online.
The good news is that C-stores don’t need to solve the problem all on their own. During this year’s NACS Show 2022, the National Association of Convenience Stores launched THRIVR, a powerful platform to enable independent C-store operators to manage their online search presence, social engagement, and reputation; target new audiences; and expand their sales opportunities.
Help Customers Find You
You’ve likely used the “search near me” function within Google to locate a coffee shop, gas station or restaurant. If you’re a convenience store (or C-store) operator, you may not have considered the importance of showing up in those search results―or the impact that not showing up may have on your business. Being excluded can dramatically affect immediate and future revenue opportunities.
Here’s a simple and perhaps eye-opening test. Stand within your store, pick an aisle, any aisle. Then Google “ATM near me” or “coffee near me.” Does your business show up in the search results listing? Or does Google encourage consumers to meet their needs somewhere else?
Prospective customers need to be able to find you so they can buy from you. Since they depend on technology for all aspects of daily life, including exploring new places to shop and eat, it is to your advantage as a retailer to engage with consumers when they’re in search mode. Basic investments in digital marketing will not only help consumers find your store but may also motivate them to adjust their routines for frequent visits.
While search optimization, social media engagement, and online reputation management are not new, solutions like THRIVR and SOCi – a marketing platform that enables brands to improve their search listing and leverage social media -- have scaled their capabilities to support the single store operator. Of the almost 150,000 convenience stores in North America, about 90,000 are single site operators. Technology solutions and tools that were once only accessible by large enterprises are now feasible for the small to medium-sized retail business.
Of course, Share of Wallets isn’t the only significant challenge facing C-stores. There is also eroding demand for traditional profit centers like tobacco and fuel. Yet those issues require investment and change that may involve pivoting business models, identifying alternate profit centers or deploying new tech stacks. Share of Wallets, on the other hand, can be tackled by using readily available tools designed to deliver sizable outcomes with relatively little investment.
Want to discover more steps you can take to become a digitally advanced C-store? Make your plans to see the Hughes team at NRF 2023, and in the meantime, check out additional resources that can transform your retail business.
For additional articles from Tim Tang, visit: www.hughes.com/timtang