The typical C-store customer wants to get in and out of your store quickly.
But what if they never have to set foot inside at all?
Give your customers the fast and easy shopping experience they’re looking for by installing a drive-thru window or offering curbside pickup service.
Neither idea is new to the world of C-stores — the first drive-thru liquor store opened in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in 1955 — but the concepts have garnered renewed interest in recent years. 7-Eleven recently opened its first location with a drive-thru window in Dallas, and Wawa built two locations in the Mid-Atlantic region last year. And curbside pickup is promoted everywhere now, from chain restaurants to sporting goods outlets and clothing stores.
For many grocery consumers, curbside pickup and drive-thru shopping are the next best thing to using delivery services like Instacart and Shipt. They offer almost all the benefits of a personal shopper without paying their delivery fees and annual membership costs.
And for convenience stores, they’re a way to attract time-pressed customers who want a speedy, contact-free shopping experience.
Even though such services are designed around minimizing person-to-person contact, offering them can maximize customer loyalty. If you can give your customers the speed, convenience, and order accuracy they’re looking for, they’ll reward you with more of their spending.
Still need more convincing? Here are five reasons why you need you to add curbside pickup or a drive-thru window — and maybe both — to your store today.
It could be a great source of additional revenue.
The exploding popularity of grocery shopping and delivery services in the last decade has demonstrated that consumers are willing to pay for convenience. Any savvy shopper will notice that the cost of bread, milk and other staples are a little bit more when ordered through a delivery service. But do many complain? No. You could do the same with some of the items you sell, adding a small premium to cover the time you or your employees spend putting the orders together.
It still provides multiple opportunities for upselling.
Whether you handle orders over the phone or through email, you still have a chance to suggest complementary products for added revenue. Before you start assembling orders, contact customers to let them know it will be ready soon. As you look over their list, think of items that are a natural add-on: a creamy dip with potato chips or jelly with a jar of peanut butter.
It allows you to meet your customers where they are.
Some customers are still nervous about shopping indoors. Others just don’t want the hassle of having to find a parking space, grabbing a basket, and looking through the aisles. Offering drive-thru service or curbside pickup allows you to address either situation and give customers exactly what they’re ready for. You always want your customers to have a comfortable shopping experience, and drive-thru or pickup gives it to them.
It’s another way to target younger shoppers.
Millennials and Generation Z shoppers are far more interested than baby boomers in using curbside pickup services, according to industry research. These young and early middle age people have money to spend and they’re in one of the busiest times of their lives. They’re receptive to anything that will save them time, and they don’t mind if extra convenience costs them a little more.
It helps your store stand out from the competition.
Although C-stores with drive-thru windows and that offer curbside pickup are becoming more common, they’re still unusual enough that offering either option will set your store apart. Advertising the fact that you make shopping as easy as picking up dinner could lead to a surge of interest from people in the neighborhood. Promote it on social media. You just might be surprised at the results.
Curbside and drive-thru services offer a whole other world of opportunity when it comes to customer service. So what are you waiting for?