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A Case Study on Convenience Store Coupons

convenience store coupon case study

American consumers save well over $3 billion every year through the use of coupons. Coupons help people save money and can encourage them to try new products or pick up products they would otherwise leave on the shelf. Coupons aren’t just for “extreme couponers,” and today’s coupons don’t only look like magazine clippings. They also take the form of mobile offers sent straight to our phones that anyone can conveniently use.

As a convenience store owner or manager, you may wonder whether coupons have a place in helping you grow your sales. In this article, we’re going to look at a case study of how coupons from our BR Club loyalty program increased Skittles sales at convenience stores. You may be surprised by just how much of an impact coupons can have.

Convenience Store Coupons

You may associate coupons with shopping at the grocery store and wonder whether there’s really any place for them in a convenience store. After all, convenience stores tailor to customers who are in and out quickly, and are looking for convenience. Does someone who stopped in for a coffee, a bag of chips, and a soda care about using a coupon?

 

convenience store coupons

The answer is yes! Coupons can certainly influence the purchasing decisions of anyone shopping for items at convenience stores and many other types of stores. One survey found that two-thirds of consumers have purchased a product they weren’t planning to buy otherwise because they discovered a coupon for it. Whether shopping online or in a store, knowing you have a coupon for an item puts that item into your mind and may prompt you to add it to your basket.

It’s important to note that coupons come in many forms, and consumers don’t interact with all coupons the same way. For example, a manufacturer’s coupons in the newspaper or a magazine will likely go unnoticed by someone who isn’t seeking them out. Digital coupons, on the other hand, are accessible for anyone with a computer or smartphone. Advertising coupons inside of the store is another way to garner attention right before the customer selects what item to purchase.

A recent article from Convenience Store News pointed out that c-stores can more effectively connect with their customers using digital coupons since there are 135 million digital coupon users in the United States. The article also points out that many of the c-stores that are currently taking advantage of digital couponing are tying these coupons in with a loyalty program. These programs can create even more of a sense of exclusivity, which is a major part of what makes customers love coupons in the first place.

What categories of c-store coupons perform the best? One study found that customers redeemed the most coupons at their local convenience stores for beverages (led by energy drinks), followed by food and candy. These are all c-store staples, so getting customers to redeem coupons to buy more of these items is one of the best ways to increase convenience store sales.

 

convenience store products

A Skittles Case Study

Now that we’ve talked about the effectiveness of coupons in general and for convenience stores in particular, let’s focus in on a case study from early 2019. This case study highlights the general coupon knowledge we’ve been discussing with some concrete numbers.

Let’s start by establishing our baseline for this case study. In January 2019, 184 stores that use the BR Club loyalty program sold Skittles products to customers who came in.

These Skittles products included several different UPCs, including original, sour, wild berry and tropical flavors — the four most popular Skittles flavors, according to Ranker, a website which allows consumers to rank their preference for various products. These UPCs also include the classic, smaller sizes as well as the larger “share” size. Together, the 184 stores that sold Skittles sold a total of 2,698 products, totaling $3,342.79 in revenue.

We then ran a coupon for Skittles in February with three goals: 1. Increase the number of stores in the BR Club network that sell Skittles, 2. Increase the total volume of Skittles products sold at BR Club locations, 3. Increase the volume of Skittles products sold at stores that were already selling Skittles (this last data point excludes stores that hadn’t been selling Skittles prior to the coupon).

In order to make customers aware of the Skittles coupon, we advertised the coupon on the customer facing screens of the stores’ POS Systems. This way customers could see the coupon during check out, perhaps the most influential and captivating time to advertise to a store’s customers. We also sent the coupon straight to BR Club members via SMS message. We then tracked Skittles sales in February to see if we achieved our three goals. The bottom line? Our stores saw a major upturn in Skittles sales due to the BR Club coupon. Let’s break it down in more detail, looking at each of our metrics.

1. Number of Stores That Sold Skittles

 

skittles case study

First of all, thirty four (34) BR Club stores that hadn’t sold any Skittles in January, sold Skittles in February because of the coupon. This resulted in a total of 218 stores selling Skittles as opposed to 184 in January, an 18% increase. This number was even more impressive for one particular UPC — the tropical Skittles flavor 2.17-ounce bag. Thirty eight (38) stores that hadn’t sold any of this UPC the month before sold them in February, thanks to the coupon.

It may be easy to write off the efficacy of a coupon if customers consistently bought a product, regardless of whether they had a coupon. However, when a store that hasn’t sold a product recently (or has never sold that product before) notices a product suddenly flying off the shelves, it’s easy to see that the coupon made a real difference.

2. Total Number of Skittles Products Sold

If you’re unconvinced by the amount of new stores selling Skittles, then you may be more interested in the increase in the total number of Skittles products sold. The 218 stores that redeemed coupons in February sold vastly more Skittles products in February than in January. The number of Skittles products sold at these stores jumped from 2,698 to 6,671. That’s an amazing 147% increase. In other words, our BR Club stores sold nearly 2.5 times more Skittles products in February than they had in January.

Considering the fact that candy is one of the six product categories that make up the vast majority of convenience stores’ sales, an upturn in revenue from candy sales is a win for the store’s success overall.

3. Number of Skittles Products Sold (excluding stores that were not already selling Skittles in January)

Now that we’ve shown the increase in total Skittles sales due to the BR Club Skittles coupon, what if we remove stores from the data set that weren’t already selling Skittles prior to the February coupon? Remember, in bullet point 2 we got a big boost in sales from stores that were selling zero Skittles in January who just began selling Skittles in February. After all, there were 38 more stores selling Skittles in February than in in January due to the coupon.

How impressive would it be if we even got a big lift in Skittles sales at stores that were already selling skittles?

The 184 stores that were already selling Skittles UPCs in January sold 5722 Skittles products in February. That’s an increase of 112% from the 2698 Skittles products they sold in January. Also, a reminder that there are three less days in February than in January. That means these dramatic increases in Skittles sales happened in three less days of business!

How Can We Use This Information?

So, now that we’ve seen the evidence from this case study, what does it mean for your c-store? Amidst the convenience store tips and tricks for growing your sales, don’t overlook the power of the coupon. If delivered in a way consumers can conveniently use, coupons can have a profound effect on individual consumers’ buying decisions and on your sales as a whole.

According to Investopedia, offering coupons to customers can help you:

  • Bring in new customers to your store
  • Launch new product lines
  • Clear out overstocked or unwanted inventory
  • Prompt customers to try a new brand
  • Encourage repeat business

The benefits are extensive and backed up by retailers’ own experience and data, such as what we gathered from our case study. So, what holds c-stores back from implementing coupons? One possible reason is that, if they’re not done right, coupons could cause you to lose revenue rather than gain it. For your store to benefit from coupons, they need to be strategically created to encourage customers to spend more in your store, not less. This potential can can scare off some retailers.

Another reason some convenience stores may shy away from using coupons is because they don’t know where to start. We understand that coming up with promotion ideas for your convenience store can be overwhelming. How do you know what to place on sale? What percentage should you take off? Or should you opt for a buy-one-get-one sort of deal? And how do you avoid possible loopholes that can allow a savvy couponer-user to cause you to lose money instead of make more of it? The possibilities and questions are seemingly endless.

 

gas station coupon

Once you figure out what sorts of convenience store promotions you want to offer, your job is far from done. You have to determine what form your coupons are going to take and how you’re going to get them into the hands of shoppers. You may even need a graphic designer to help you create the coupon itself. You could just sit back and hope that customers cut out manufacturer’s coupons and bring them along, but since these coupons are valid anywhere the product is sold, they won’t bring customers into your store specifically.

The easiest way to take full advantage of coupons is to do what the retailers in our case study did. They became part of the BR Club loyalty program. With the BR Club, you don’t have to do the work of coming up with special discounts, and you don’t have to make your own coupons. Instead, your customers will get digital coupons sent straight to their devices that they can redeem only at stores that are part of the BR Club network.

And the best part? The coupons are sponsored by nationwide brands so YOU GET PAID BACK FOR EVERY REDEEMED COUPON.

NRS BR Club Program and Loyalty Software

National Retail Solutions (NRS) is empowering small business all over the country to cash in on the benefits of store promotions and coupons through our loyalty software and exclusive access to the BR Club. Together, these tools make it easy to provide your customers with sales and coupons.

Some store owners and managers love being able to create their own discounts for their customers, and there’s no better way to do that than through our loyalty software, which comes with every point-of-sale (POS) system we sell. This software allows you to create your own in-store discounts, whether that be taking a certain number of cents off of a product’s price or rewarding customers for buying a specific number of a product.

When you program in the discounts you want, they will automatically be applied at checkout as your employees scan in items that are on sale. For promotions that require a customer to buy a certain number of items, the customer-facing screen will let the customer know that they can save by throwing in an additional item or two. If you want to know how your discount programs are performing, you can check the Store Statistics menu.

 

br club program

When you want to offer your customers digital coupons that you don’t have to sponsor yourself, this is where BR Club comes in. BR Club is a customer rewards program used by a nationwide network of small businesses just like yours. The BR Club program offers your customers coupons that are sponsored by large national brands. When you purchase the POS+ from NRS, you automatically gain access to the BR Club program.

BR Club allows you to enjoy the undeniable benefits to your bottom line that strategic coupons bring without having to figure out how to produce and distribute these coupons on your own. When your customers join the BR Club program, they’ll get these special offers sent straight to their phones. A coupon for their favorite drink, candy or snack may just be the prompting they need to stop into your store. While they’re there, you can expect them to buy other items too.

C-store chains are working on perfecting their loyalty programs, so your small chain or independent store should fight to keep up by implementing a loyalty program that takes advantage of modern technology — no punch cards or manually manipulating prices. All your customers have to do is scan their BR Club cards and watch the coupons automatically apply on their screen as you ring up their items.

The retailers in our case study didn’t have to come up with that Skittles coupon on their own. Instead, they just got to see a spike in their Skittles sales and their revenue as customers took advantage of their BR Club coupons.

Start Cashing in on Coupons at Your Store Today

 

c-store coupons

We hope this case study of what BR Club coupons did to raise Skittles sales across participating stores has served to illuminate the power coupons have to help your convenience store succeed. If you’ve been wondering how to increase your convenience store sales, coupons may very well be the answer. The BR Club program can also help grocery stores, delis and other retail stores that sell snacks and beverages increase their sales.

You don’t have to be a large chain or big-box store to enjoy the benefits of digital coupons for your customers. At NRS, our mission is to bring this technology to small businesses like yours. If you want to implement a modern, all-in-one POS system, complete with access to our loyalty software and BR Club, contact our sales team today for a free quote.

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The Rapid Growth of the Convenience Store Industry Continues

rapid growth of convenience store industry

No matter where you live or work, there’s a good chance you have a convenience store somewhere nearby. For many people, they need only to walk down to the corner to take advantage of all their local c-store has to offer. When you’re on a road trip, c-stores dot the highway, providing the perfect pit stop for travelers who need to refill their gas tanks and buy something to eat or drink.

If you own or operate a convenience store, then you’ve probably noted the rapid growth of c-stores over the past several years. This growth means more opportunity for entrepreneurs but also means fiercer competition for existing businesses. Now that we’re into 2019, let’s take a moment to review how the industry grew over the last year and what sorts of challenges and trends will shape the industry this year and in the future. Then, we’ll take a moment to look at how c-stores can overcome these challenges and continue to succeed.

2018: Another Year of Marked Growth

Since the first U.S. convenience store opened in Texas in 1927, Americans and other consumers all over the world have discovered the value of c-stores. No matter how much the world changes, people need a place where they can buy staple products and even food without having to make multiple stops or take the time and energy to walk around a huge big box store.

The convenience store industry is not just surviving — it’s thriving. The main piece of convenience store news from 2018 is that there are now well over 150,000 convenience stores in the U.S. — more than ever before. In an era where consumers highly prioritize convenience, c-stores are there to deliver it. Convenience stores account for over a third of all outlets in the U.S.

The trend of growth in the convenience store industry has continued steadily for many years. In 2018, a record total of 57,301 c-store businesses generated $29 billion in revenue. Individual states have noted convenience store growth, as well. For example, New Jersey, one of the smallest states in the U.S., is now home to 3,229 convenience stores. That’s a 20 percent increase from the number of c-stores in the Garden State just 10 years ago.

Halfway through 2018, c-store sales were up from the previous year, and a record 86 percent of convenience retailers surveyed by National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) said they were optimistic about their business prospects going into the third quarter. The year continued to deliver positive results for c-stores, and many are looking forward to continued growth and new opportunities in 2019.

Reasons for Growth

reasons for growth

Even in an age where big box stores seem to dominate, convenience stores continue to compete because they offer some unique advantages that big box stores simply can’t replicate. 

It’s no secret that people today greatly value convenience, and this is what convenience stores are designed to deliver — the name says it all. In one relatively small, easy-to-navigate store, probably close by your home or workplace, you can quickly check off your shopping list for household items, grab a cup of coffee or a sandwich, purchase your favorite lottery tickets and, in many c-stores, refill the gas tank on your car. With such diverse offerings in one convenient location, it’s no wonder that c-stores continue to draw customers.

It’s easy to see why convenience stores are popular, but why do they continue to pop up in more and more locations across the country? After all, c-stores have always offered consumers a uniquely convenient shopping experience.

The steady growth of c-stores in recent years may be due in part to a rise in the average American’s disposable income. Disposable income in the U.S. hit an all-time high toward the end of 2018. Generally speaking, the more disposable income people have, the more they are willing to pay a bit extra for products at their local convenience store as opposed to a big box store down the street.

The growth can also be attributed to the way many convenience stores have adapted to an ever-evolving market. This industry has certainly experienced some changes, some of which may present challenges to c-store owners. But successful convenience stores are turning these challenges into opportunities and are continuing to succeed and even multiply their locations.

New Challenges in the Industry

So, what are these new challenges facing the industry today? The good news is that there aren’t necessarily problems taking a toll on the industry. However, there are new trends that may present obstacles to c-stores that fail to adapt. Let’s take a look at four major convenience store trends to be aware of in 2019.

new challenges in the industry

1. Larger Chains Acquiring More Stores

The largest convenience retailers, particularly 7-Eleven Inc. and Canada’s Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. which operates Circle-K stores in the U.S., have only gotten bigger this past year, acquiring hundreds of stores that were previously owned by smaller companies. As these major chains have grown in greater proportion compared to independently-owned stores and smaller chains, there are now 5 percent fewer independent companies in the market compared to 2017.

This trend may worry independent store owners, but the reality is that one-store operations still account for more than six out of every 10 convenience stores. With the right strategy, any independent convenience store can compete against bigger chain stores.

2. E-Commerce Creating New Checkout Expectations

Another major challenge facing c-stores today is that e-commerce has had a profound impact on the retail industry as a whole. Consumers have always appreciated an efficient shopping experience, but they are now more likely to compare their checkout experience at a store to their checkout experience online — one that doesn’t include lines and allows them to pay with new methods like mobile wallet apps.

As we’ll see, c-stores can embrace these new expectations and meet them through the use of modernized checkout technology and a continued commitment to efficiency. Finding ways to speed up checkout time will help you capitalize on the need for fast, convenient service that keeps people coming into your store.

3. A Decline in Smoking Limiting Tobacco Sales

Health trends are also creating some new challenges for c-stores. Cigarette sales have historically accounted for more than one-third of sales in the convenience store industry. As the number of smokers in the U.S. has steadily declined, however, c-stores can no longer depend on tobacco sales as they could in years past.

This trend is good for the overall health of Americans, but it nevertheless cuts into a mainstay of convenience store sales. While tobacco products aren’t going away any time soon and will continue to make up a substantial portion of many c-stores’ sales, stores should make sure they’re offering other products that bring people in and don’t rely too heavily on revenue from tobacco product sales.

4. Health-Consciousness Changing the Demand for Foods and Beverages

Another trend affecting c-stores is that people are becoming increasingly health-conscious. While many people will still be happy to purchase a large soda and a hot dog when they stop in your c-store, an increasing number of consumers may look for drinks and snacks that are lower in sugar, carbs, fat or calories or made with fresher ingredients.

Many c-stores have noticed this first-hand, and the numbers confirm it. Looking specifically at soft drinks as an example, while the soda industry is certainly alive and well, the majority of Americans today say they are actively avoiding drinking soda regularly.

This trend toward health-consciousness is possibly why 2018 saw a decline in the growth of in-store foodservice sales. Because of this trend, c-stores are overwhelmingly saying they’re focusing on expanding their offerings of fresh and healthy items, such as low-calorie teas, health bars, fresh produce, pre-prepared salads and nuts. When people want to refuel their car and themselves, they’ll be happy to see some guilt-free choices that will give them the healthy energy they need.

Keeping up With Trends in 2019 and Beyond

keeping up with trends

There is no doubt that the face of the convenience store industry is evolving, along with the rest of the retail world. As culture and the industry changes, new challenges will always be on the horizon, but convenience store owners can meet these challenges head-on and use them as opportunities to embrace new trends and better serve today’s consumers.

The key to success in an ever-changing marketplace is to adapt continuously and always look for ways to improve. Across the industry, people understand that convenience stores will continue to grow and thrive only if they embrace change.

So, what sort of changes need to take place? They can be boiled down into three primary areas. First, convenience stores in 2019 must focus more on encouraging customer loyalty. Second, they must look for ways to tailor their product offerings to match current trends in what their customers want. Finally, they must embrace the latest technology to make their operations more organized and checkouts more convenient. Let’s take a closer look at all three of these areas.

1. Encourage Customer Loyalty

To successfully compete with other stores, c-stores need to focus not just on acquiring but also on keeping their customers. Customer loyalty programs are an excellent way to encourage consumers to shop more, or even exclusively, at your store rather than other stores in town.

According to a 2018 C-Store Shopper Profile report, 73 percent of shoppers who are a loyalty member at a particular c-store business will shop there more frequently or even exclusively. Loyalty shoppers won’t just frequent your business more. They may also spend more when they come in. Two out of every five loyalty shoppers spend over $10 when they come in. 

To successfully implement a loyalty program, the program should be automated so cashiers don’t have to punch cards or figure out complicated rewards systems. When people can simply scan a card or log into an account and track their rewards, they’ll be more likely to take advantage of the loyalty program.

2. Tailor Your Product Offerings

Some products, like gum, beef jerky and bottled water, are staples of most convenience stores that don’t need to go anywhere in 2019. However, with the average convenience store carrying thousands of products, there is plenty of room to critically consider whether some products should be eliminated and others added. As we’ve seen, adding healthier and fresher food and beverage options is one smart strategy for c-stores this year.

In addition to stocking nutritious options, c-stores who want to effectively tailor their product offerings to consumers in their neighborhood should take advantage of inventory tracking analytics. This software can make it much easier to accurately track the inventory your store currently has in stock and what needs to be reordered. It can also show you which products aren’t selling well and which ones are selling like hotcakes, so you can determine how to optimize your product offerings.

3. Embrace New Technology

Inventory tracking software is just one example of the type of technology c-stores should consider embracing this year. The best way to take advantage of current technology and deliver a modernized checkout experience to customers is by investing in a point of sale (POS) system. These systems are a major improvement on old manual cash registers.

Modern POS systems are intuitive to use for both employees and customers. A smoother checkout experience meets customers’ needs for speed and convenience. Some POS systems can also support new methods of payment, including mobile wallet apps. Shoppers who frequently bemoan shopping in stores rather than online won’t shy away from your store when they know they can quickly and easily checkout at your store, gain loyalty rewards and pay with their method of choice, all in a way that takes advantage of current technology.

Make 2019 a Successful Year With the POS+

pos success

The convenience store industry has enjoyed great successes in recent years. The industry can continue to grow and succeed this year and in future years, as long as retailers stay on top of trends and deliver a shopping experience that meets consumers’ evolving needs.

A modern POS system can give you a huge advantage when it comes to tracking your sales, managing your inventory and checking out customers. The POS+ from National Retail Solutions (NRS) is an all-in-one system that integrates high-quality hardware and cutting-edge software. NRS is committed to keeping our software current, so we will automatically update your system periodically.

One thing that sets our POS system apart is that it’s compatible with our nationwide customer rewards program, BR Club. This system makes it easy to encourage loyalty among your customers so they continue to frequent your store.

When you partner with NRS, you can expect an unmatched level of support and service. We are especially focused on helping small businesses successfully compete with larger stores and chains. If you’re interested in making 2019 the year you embrace new technology, learn more about the POS+ all-in-one system from NRS. No matter what challenges come your way, your c-store can take on the future with confidence. Contact us today for a free quote.

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Most Profitable Small Businesses in 2018

2018 profitable business

Are you considering starting a small business? Do you want to learn more about the competition for your existing small business? Knowing which industries earn the most money this year will help you make smart decisions. The following five types of small businesses are all sure to earn money in 2018.

1. Coffee Shops

Last year, almost half of all coffee customers drank the beverage outside of their homes. Many of these people drink specialty coffee, but you can also earn money by selling regular brewed coffee.

To compete with big coffee chains, give your cafe a unique theme that will help you stand out and make customers excited to visit you. In addition, try to find a location that plenty of people pass by on a regular basis, giving them a chance to get coffee while they travel.

2. Smoke/Vape Shops

As more people begin to view vaping in a positive light, there’s no better time to get into the e-cigarette or vape industry. The market is set to grow by over 20 percent and will reach around $61 billion in value by 2025. Exciting flavor varieties and flexible vape kits prove to be enticing features for potential customers, so make sure you provide a range of products for every kind of customer.

3. Bike Stores

Every year, Americans spend $81 billion on bike products and services. Biking is popular because it keeps people healthy and reduces car traffic in addition to the equipment costing less to maintain. Many customers like to ride electronic-powered bikes, but you can also earn a profit selling pedal bikes. Some owners with the right tools and skills offer bike repair services, while entrepreneurs who live in areas with many tourists provide bike rentals.

bike products and services

4. Bakeries

Bakeries across the country saw a total of $31 billion in combined revenue in the past year, while industry growth is projected to increase at eight percent between 2016 and 2026. Many sales come from weddings and other formal events, but you can also make a profit selling baked goods to individuals.

5. Beauty Salons

The $445 billion beauty industry is an excellent choice for any entrepreneur and is more diverse than you might think. Hair salons and barber shops, tanning salons, spas and massage clinics, waxing franchises and many more specialties are all expected to enjoy significant job growth.

Beauty and cosmetology will always be in high demand and can provide you with a fantastic business opportunity. No matter what you plan to specialize in, you can reap the rewards of a large customer base by opening a beauty salon of some kind, as long as you present your products and services correctly to draw attention and interest.

booming beauty industry

Point of Sale System for Small Businesses

A point of sale (POS) system like the National Retail Solutions POS+ makes managing your sales and inventory simple. At NRS, we help small businesses like yours succeed. Buy the POS+ today or request a quote for extra equipment.