How can independent convenience stores grow their business with local store marketing?

Maximizing local opportunities and customer loyalty can help independent retailers increase sales.

The struggle for convenience store customers to effectively capture sales has never been fiercer. Convenience store operators who wait for their business to improve will have a very long road to recovery, if ever. Aggressive retailers who provide after-sales service by working within the critical three-mile business radius surrounding their retail store will not only survive in the short term, but thrive.

Local in-store marketing (LSM) should be an essential and constant part of driving retail sales. In many cases, it is the building blocks of your customer’s “point of differentiation” and many LSM tactics can be executed by your existing staff for very little money. This makes it an important tool, especially for small chains of independent convenience stores.

Retailers should consider the following ideas to support their sales:

Improve visibility: Is your store part of the landscape? Have you become a retail wallpaper? Create excitement outside your own four walls to bring attention to your retail store. A-shaped signs in the street; hot air balloons on your roof; mascots waving in the crowd; search lights; etc. all of them create and increase visibility.

Give your customers a boost: For retailers who have customer lists – reach out to your customers by emailing them, calling them, or engaging them on social media platforms – inviting them to come back to your store. All it takes is a friendly reminder to keep your retail store top of the list.

Retain your customers: Introduce a customer loyalty card or app and get your top customers to visit your stores more frequently. Use those same loyalty incentives to turn occasional customers into lead customers.

Start product sampling: Do you want to attract the test of your flagship products? Deliver product samples to surrounding businesses within a three-mile radius of your store. Be sure to hand out flyers with your product samples, then watch the sales flow.

Create new customers: Build new relationships within your three mile radius with local businesses by offering gift packages of your exclusive products; contact hotels and local businesses to promote your products to hotel guests and business people; and arrange meetings with the local chamber and surrounding schools or churches to make your retail store a great venue for their next event.

Launch special recognition days: Everyone wants to be recognized, so create an event in your store that recognizes and appreciates certain customer groups such as specific businesses; age groups (ie children’s day); or special students.

These are just a few proven LSM tactics that a retail store can start implementing immediately for little to no cost. The decision is up to you: you can either go the passive route – leaving your success or failure to depend on customers opting for your store – OR you can aggressively maximize sales opportunities in your three-mile business zone.

Watch the video below for more tips on LSM:

John Matthews, President and CEO of Gray Cat Enterprises, is responsible for managing all consulting activities for the company, which include retail consulting for multi-unit operations; interim executive direction; and project management. Prior to founding his own business in 2004, Matthews held leadership roles as President of Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches and Vice President of Marketing, Merchandising, Facilities, Corporate Communications and Real Estate at Clark Retail Enterprises, Inc. In addition, Matthews worked for nine years in Marketing Management as National Marketing Director for Little Caesars Pizza Corp.