In order to understand convenience stores, it’s important to understand the cigarette market. If you are a convenience store owner, you already likely know that cigarette sales and the popularity of convenience stores is connected. However, in recent years, sales of cigarettes have plunged. Between 1965 to 2018 they have dropped by 68% among adults, according to the American Lung Association.

In order to keep traffic coming into their stores, many turned to providing better food, a higher quality experience and even integration with technology through apps. However, now convenience stores are faced with another challenge, a reduction in the sale of gas due to electric vehicles. Experts predict that while gasoline sales will still be around in the coming decades, this means of fueling cars will become unpopular.

If you are a convenience store owner, it’s important to be aware of this coming change. To illustrate how the wheels are already in motion, note the fact that certain states already require EV charging stations to be permanently installed in parking lots of new buildings both commercial and residential. Some expect that owners of older buildings might soon be required to make this type of installation as well. While convenience store owners can certainly replace fuel pumps with EV chargers too, they need to be aware of the fact that these charges will be widespread and therefore less profitable. Many car owners will even have them in their own driveways.

So how can you be prepared for this upcoming change? Think about your target customer. What can make their lives easier? It probably doesn’t make sense to reinvent your store for a totally different customer, but instead focus on satisfying the customers that you already serve.

One way to successfully achieve this goal is to focus on your branding. After all, customers are drawn to stores when they have an emotional connection with it. More than ever, modern convenience stores are focusing on their messaging and their design. Take the time to consider other stores that stand out due to their branding or offerings and see if you can mirror their approach in some way.

Think about your roots: providing convenience. After all, that’s what a convenience store is based around in the first place. Also give some thought to food, as that’s always something your consumers will always want. Perhaps look into selling cannabis or other items that are expected to be increasingly popular in the future.

Remember that your goal should be to help people find balance in their lives and also to meet their needs. When you give your customers the services and products they are seeking, you will always retain an edge over the competition.


Ryan Pankratz is Business Intermediary of Creative Business Services/CBS-Global.

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