Convenience Store News - December 2017 - 32

SMALLOPERATOR
should be seen as a "call to action for a business to
make changes, and those changes must come before
the window closes," he said. "Lack of growth means
we have missed something fundamental to the current
market, trends and needs of our customers and we are
headed toward death."
Small operators, who are traditionally known to
be more nimble and quick to change than larger outfits, can stay ahead of the customer growth curve by
embracing new ideas and emerging technologies. It is
how forward-thinking operators are differentiating
themselves and connecting more intimately with customers, according to Smith.
For instance, a proximity marketing platform that
engages with existing and new customers by using
current technology trends in smartphones, mobile
applications and digital signage is something that
many large retailers have yet to embrace, giving small
operators an opportunity to embrace this and stand
out, Smith explained.
"This focus on local proximity and personalized
customer-centric messaging is a great way to get your
small-business message and branding out to potential
customers with a bit of a 'wow' factor that can keep
them interested and engaged in your store," Smith said.
This type of technology is also geared toward customer retention. "The current trend of real-time, ondemand, personalized service is where savvy retailers
and operators can make it convenient for a customer
utilizing technology platforms to return. Plus, it's the
opposite of a one-size-fits-all experience," he stated.
BE A 'SOCIAL' LISTENER

Small operators and independents should always be
listening and soliciting feedback to find growth within
their current customer base, according to Deborah
Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com, a legal filing
service geared to small and independent businesses.
"This will also help you to grow and take on new
customers because new customers are interested in the
outcome of the feedback you received from your current customers," she pointed out.
To draw in new customers, fun promotions, enticing loyalty programs and overall "wowing" are good
tactics for small operators, she said. "When you wow
your current customers or offer something unique,
they are likely to refer a friend or colleague," she said.
"Through that, you can develop new customers and
continue to grow."
Retaining those new customers is a matter of

32 Convenience Store News | DECEMBER 2017 | WWW.CSNEWS.COM

engagement, in Sweeney's view.
"Ask questions, anticipate needs," she said. "When
you are interested in feedback and respond to customer feedback - positive or negative - you are likely
to gain additional loyalty. When your customers feel
heard, they are more likely to be loyal and stay connected with your business."
Sweeney also believes small operators have an
advantage of being "more real" on social media platforms. She advises small c-store operators to share
information about their offering, their people and their
day-to-day happenings on social media.
"Our customers, by virtue of exposure to our social
media, feel that they know us and are connected to
us," she said, using her own small business as an
example. "They perceive us to be fun, connected and
engaged as a team. As a result, they want to be a part
of working with a company that has that type of culture. It is through sharing the 'real us' on social media
and with our customers that we retain and further
engage with them and new customers that hear about
us through them."
BE ANGLED, LOCALLY

There is an overall market movement toward local
producers/manufacturers and, by extension, independents. "Small operators are in a unique position to
take advantage of relationships; they can leverage local
brands," said Penicaud.
Demonstrations, tastings and samplings with local
producers can all contribute to a small operator being
viewed as a "community player" by customers old and
new. "Small operators have a powerful opportunity to
test local brands," Penicaud advised.


http://www.MyCorporation.com http://WWW.CSNEWS.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Convenience Store News - December 2017

Contents
Convenience Store News - December 2017 - Cover1
Convenience Store News - December 2017 - Cover2
Convenience Store News - December 2017 - 3
Convenience Store News - December 2017 - 4
Convenience Store News - December 2017 - 5
Convenience Store News - December 2017 - Contents
Convenience Store News - December 2017 - 7
Convenience Store News - December 2017 - 8
Convenience Store News - December 2017 - 9
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Convenience Store News - December 2017 - Cover3
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Convenience Store News - December 2017 - U1
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