Convenience Stores as Essential Businesses
In many ways, convenience stores are considered essential businesses because they are an important part of the food supply, in addition to providing gas and other services to customers. It is convenience stores that play a crucial role in the economy. In the case of an economy disruption, such as with the COVID-19 pandemic for example, a time such as this reveals just how important convenience stores are and such a pandemic reveals just how adaptable and resilient businesses can be. Convenience stores can be seen offering contactless pick-up options to customers through order ahead/curbside pickup, and even those without mobile apps in place found workarounds, encouraging customers to call the store to place an order and call again when they arrive, so employees can place the order in their trunk.
As COVID-19 disrupts businesses across industries, convenience stores have an opportunity to show they are significant to their communities by identifying new opportunities to help customers and become necessity stores. Whenever people are hurting, businesses like convenience stores have an opportunity to help.
Most businesses and people have been focusing on success and figuring out how they can expand their income and grow their business, but a better strategy would be on how convenience stores can focus on being significant rather than being successful. A business can measure itself by it’s success, in other words, by how much profit their business generates a year, or a business can measure itself by its “significance” , in other words, by the impact their business has on the community and the customers it serves. Convenience stores can pivot and adapt during an economic disruption and choose to be significant, this can give convenience stores the leverage they need to continue providing to their customers.
How do convenience stores become significant? One way is to donate in the community or offer complimentary items to people at a discounted price. For example, nursing homes where elderly residents are at great risk and who need supplies is the perfect opportunity to make an impact and show them convenience stores can adaptable, but most importantly, that convenience stores care about the people they serve. In addition, convenience stores can reach out and offer to deliver basic products/supplies, either through phone call ordering or offering them a special app they can use to order online.
Pivoting During an Economic Crisis
While businesses often worry about being able to keep employees, convenience stores can pivot and hire staff to help bring products to customers’ cars or help deliver products. Instead of viewing employees as just a cost, convenience stores can redefine and reinvent their business model for the time being and find new ways where employees can help. Convenience stores need to remind customers that they are stocking items in-store that shoppers need. As customers are flocking to the big supermarkets and big box stores to buy their essential items, many of those big stores face stocking shortages on basic products, and this is where convenience store can fill the gap.
Former Uber and Lyft drivers, who don’t have people to drive around, could be hired by convenience stores to drive products to customers homes. Convenience stores have the supplies people need such as bottled water.
During a time of economic hardship, consumers change their spending habits due to the mass uncertainty the economic climate brings. For business owners, especially those of convenience stores, instead of adding to the uncertainty, convenience store owners can make a list of what they are certain about. Peoples’ needs are not going away, they have just increased. People need basic supplies and convenience stores have basic supplies.
Using Convenience to your Advantage
Convenience stores are known for their convenient service and quick in-store visits. When consumers hear about convenience stores, the first thing they think about is quick, easy, and fast service. The convenience store industry is a strong channel, because convenience is becoming very important to people. But more than anything else, convenience stores sell time. It is about speed service, solving people’s time problems, especially during times of economic hardship.
When it comes to providing people what they need, convenience stores are in a unique place to give a helping hand. When big box stores are in short of supplies due to an overwhelming surge of consumers buying essential products, convenience stores can step in and show their significance in the role they play in the economy.
In addition, convenience stores can support medical and health care personnel and first responders through activities such as offering free beverages and discounts on food, delivering free meals to local hospitals and firehouses, donating products to food banks and other programs, and supplying masks and other supplies to emergency and health care professionals.
Being Essential means You’re Significant
Being categorized as an essential business, means that business is significant enough to stay open and important enough to continue providing for its customers and to the general public. For convenience stores, this is great news and a great responsibility. In times of economic hardship, businesses have to adapt in order to stay afloat, but not only that, businesses more than ever have to give back to the community and prioritize their customers’ needs rather than making a profit, because if there are no people whom to serve, there is no profit.
To learn more, click here.