C-stores have become an essential part of the US food landscape. As of 2020, there were over 154,000 c-stores nationwide and they account for around 50 percent of all retail sales in the United States. With this level of growth, c-stores represent an attractive opportunity for franchisors looking to expand their operations and capitalize on local food trends. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the c-store industry, outline some of the key considerations involved with getting started, and discuss how data-driven insights can help make informed decisions.
First, let’s define a c-store. A c-store, also referred to as a convenience store, is a retail outlet that offers a limited selection of goods and services. The term “convenience” refers to the variety and availability of fresh, pre-packaged, and prepared foods, as well as immediate access to gas and other services such as ATMs or air and water dispensers. C-stores typically have a non-grocery section, although larger stores may also include a grocery section, and offer ready-to-eat meals, snacks, and drinks.
When it comes to getting started in the c-store industry, the first step is to assess the demand in the area. Consider the current customer base, the demographics of the area, the competition, and the volume and range of goods. Establishing a solid understanding of the local market will allow for more targeted research.
The second step is to evaluate the financial viability of the venture. Calculate estimated startup costs, including labor, expenses, and capital. Determine the projected profitability, considering factors such as projected sales, pricing, and operational costs.
Once the financials have been established and it has been determined that a c-store venture is viable, the next step is to identify possible locations. Consider access to transportation, visibility, and traffic. Analyze the competitive landscape to determine where a store would be successful with targeted market segments.
Once a location has been secured, focus on developing the retail offerings by a thorough analysis of the current customer base. Understand customer profiles, lifestyle patterns, and choice drivers.
Sales prospecting is also an important component in expanding operations. Equip the sales team with data-driven insights and analytics to capitalize on the opportunity. Harness customer data to identify trends and market opportunities.
Data-led industry insights are also important to capture when marketing to the foodservice market. Develop targeted marketing campaigns with targeted messaging and using the most effective channels for reaching the target audience.
Finally, data enrichment can be used to supplement systems with comprehensive market insights to make informed decisions with confidence. Utilize data and analytics tools to monitor customer behaviors and preferences. Use data to adjust store offerings, analyze and understand market dynamics, and drive sales.
With the information and strategic insights provided in this guide, franchisees can make informed decisions when assessing the potential of a c-store venture and analyzing a specific market. By leveraging data-driven insights and analytics, business owners can target the right segments, optimize operational strategies, and capitalize on market opportunities.