Retaining customers and keeping them in your store for longer are always tough challenges. Sussex retailer Peter Lamb has introduced many initiatives over the years to assist this.

Here are seven of Peter’s ideas that many stores could carry out.

1. Offer fresh coffeecoffee machine

Fresh coffee drives customers to your door. The smell, accompanied by good pricing and loyalty cards, makes it hard to ignore from a customer’s point of view.

Make the coffee a focus point of your shop, do not hide it around the back. Coffee is an impulse buy and it also generates additional sales in the form of donuts, cakes and pastries – all high margin items.

Our coffee machine is at the entrance, the aroma wafts from our door onto the sidewalk enticing people in.

Our coffee is machine made and is a great cup. A big selling point is that it is identical every time. Human made coffee is reliant upon the skill of the barista. When you get a coffee from us, not only is it great, it will be great every time.

2. Add a seating areaseating area

We are fortunate in that we have space at the front of our shop for tables and chairs. This is heavily used during the spring and summer by people drinking our coffee and eating our selection of pastries, cakes and sandwiches.

If you have the space, provide seating. Often people will return several times for additional purchases. This would not occur without the seating. Internally we have little free space, so to capture this traffic in the colder months we installed a bench across the window with bar stools. Whilst not as popular as the outside seating, it gets used regularly and also results in additional sales usually of high margin items.

3. Set up a free internet terminal

You most likely already have wireless internet in your shop. If so, why not set up a cheap laptop as a free internet terminal? It encourages people to spend time in your store and almost without fail, they will purchase coffee and a snack to eat whilst they surf.

You can even offer free internet usage with any hot drink.

4. Install a bike rack

If you have a space at the front of your shop, provide a bike rack for cyclists. We recently installed one and it is regularly used. Most cyclists are aware of it through word of mouth.

5. Create a dog tie-up area with a water bowl

Provide a ring attached to an exterior wall where owners can tether their dogs whilst they shop. Provide a clean water bowl for the dog and the goodwill generated will be bankable.

6. Put up a free notice boardnoticeboard

Many shops either do not have a community notice board or charge people to place messages on it. We believe this is counter-productive to customer acquisition. By offering a community notice board for free, we generate the following benefits:

  • It’s always full which looks great
  • Because it’s full, it gets read
  • People are grateful for the service
  • They often purchase something in return
  • It generates good word of mouth
  • It is a community service

Everyone has spare wall space, install a free notice board and reap the benefits of further good will.

7. Introduce gift Certificates

Offer gift certificates for sale. For gift certificates to work, you need to have a wide range of goods and services on offer. It is better to have a large and diverse range with only a few of each item than a small range that is over stocked.

The benefits are:

  • Cash flow – you get the money up front
  • New customers and greater awareness of your store
  • Increased sales
  • Most certificate presenters overspend
  • Free money (30% of gift certificates are never presented)

How many of these have you implemented in your store? Let us know in the comments section below

These tips are taken from the e-book ‘So, you want to run a convenience store?’ by Peter Lamb. It is available for free download here.