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Eye Appeal is Buy Appeal

We have used the headline of this article before, but it bears repeating. This issue is about just that - improving the appeal of your c-store site. It discusses the things that can be done to both the exterior and interior of your store to make it more appealing.

Another way of saying the same thing is to state "To see what Jane Smith buys, you have to see through Jane Smith's eyes." This has never been truer than today as more and more women are potential c-store customers. However, women place a higher value on the non-product elements than do men. The product is important but so is the total purchase experience.

Some of the top reasons for selecting a c-store are location, the ability to get in and out quickly, availability of gasoline hours of operation, the price of fuel and the price of other products in the store. Almost everyone is aware of these and does what they can to meet the consumers' expectations – both men and women.

However, if you want to set your store apart you need to improve the "softer" elements of the purchase experience. In general these have a greater appeal to women than men, but everyone will notice.

This includes having friendly employees. We know that is easier said than done. Further, it is more complex a subject than can be addressed in this article, but is something that you should continue to strive for. The simplest guideline we can provide is that if you "want good people, treat people good."

There are several physical things that also contribute to the overall purchase experience. Having a clean, bright store always rates close to the same level as the price of products and is too often overlooked. We were with a client this month who asked what was the fastest way to improve the look of his stores. Our answer was to re-lamp the entire store. Like many retailers he had replaced lights as they burn out. The result was a mixture of "whiteness/brightness" to the fluorescents creating a less bright store than it should have been.

In addition, many of the lamps had become coated with dust overtime, further diminishing their light. You may find the same thing at your store. If you cannot afford to re-lamp the entire store, then clean the lamps and the lighting fixture.

Cleanliness can not be over rated. b2b Solutions is often asked to conduct Operational Assessments for clients to help them improve their profitability. Part of the process is to document what we see in photos of the c-store(s). Owners are often surprised to see how their stores look through a camera's lens. Again, you have to see through the customer’s eyes.

We would expand cleanliness to include neatness. It is amazing what a few minutes blocking and fronting merchandise can do to the appearance of a store. The same is true for ensuring that your floor displays are something that people walk by and not around. Both of these contribute to overall store appearance – another highly rated reason people select a c-store.

Finally, there is the bathroom. So much has been written about the impact of bathrooms on the consumers' perception of a c-store that we hesitate to include it. However, there is no question of its importance. It is interesting to note that women rate its importance less than men. The reason is simple - most women won't use a restroom in a c-store. Why? Because they have seen too many that don't meet their standards. If you want to know if yours do, then ask your female staff or friends. Don't be surprised if they say no.

In fact, a short cut to determining how to improve your customers' overall purchase experience might be that simple. Ask your wife, your female friends, etc. to rate your store and tell you what is wrong and how to do it better.

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