Is your convenience store discoverable online?

All too often, we focus too heavily on the customer’s in-store experience and can be guilty of neglecting the process of getting more people across your threshold.

It’s all well and good assuming that people will drive past your store and stop, but what about actively making your store a discoverable destination that customers specifically set out to shop at?According to the 2019 Local Shop Report conducted by ACS, the top five rising searches related to convenience stores over the last year were:

  • +80% Convenience store open near me
  • +80% Shop near me
  • +60% Shops open near me
  • +50% 24 hour convenience store near me
  • +40% Convenience store near me

It doesn’t take vast amounts of time, money or technical know-how to make sure that your store will pop up among these searches. Your level of online presence can be determined by your business goals. For larger franchises, a website may be the way to go. For smaller, local independent stores, there are more accessible places to start.The basicsAt the very least, your store needs to have a Google listing. This service is easy to set up, and most importantly free.Setting up your listing verifies your business with Google and allows you to publicly confirm your correct opening hours and contact details. As soon as anybody searches for a shop open nearby, if yours is the closest then it will show immediately and give people directions that will get them straight to your door. You can even upload a picture, so people know exactly what your storefront looks like.Stay socialDon’t fall into the trap of thinking that social media is just for Generation Z and millennials. They may have the largest overall social media presence, but in the year 2018-19, Facebook recorded more than 15 million UK users over the age of 45. That number is only expected to rise.Social media is a great and accessible way to widen your customer reach; use social platforms to advertise time-sensitive promotions such as fuel happy hours, keep people up to date on Bank Holiday opening hours and talk directly to existing and potential customers. By joining local forum groups on social media, you can play an active role in your community, raising your brand awareness locally. Last year, over 78% of independent retailers engaged in community activities; social media is a great platform to make your efforts known!Significantly, you don’t need to invest heavily in social media for it to be successful. Its viral nature, combined with some clever posts designed to be shared, means that your audience can do the legwork for you in terms of helping to grow your reach. If you’re looking to kickstart a specific promotional campaign, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all offer affordable options to launch ads.

All the web’s a stage

A website is the most ‘official’ way to formalise your business’ online presence. Several online providers now offer affordable options to build your own website from scratch. These services require you to have no prior experience in website creation and offer wizard-driven tools to create professional sites and an affordable price. For those looking for something more bespoke, and with more money to spend, commissioning a web developer could be the way forward.The best websites are those that are regularly refreshed and updated. Out-of-date information can do more harm than good, frustrating potential customers if it is inaccurate. Your website should be kept up to date with any irregular opening times, news and recent promotions, and if you so wish, blog content. If you go down the route of building a website, it’s vital that you are able to spare the time to maintain it.Crucial for ChristmasRegardless of the type of online presence your store has, just make sure that you’ve got the basics covered before Saint Nick arrives. With many bigger stores closing, the week between Christmas and New Year is the convenience store’s time to shine. More customers search for convenience stores online during that week than at any other time of year.As we tumble down the slippery slope toward Christmas, as well as making sure your shelves are stocked with festive favourites and last-ditch gifts, use your online presence to ensure your customers know where to find you, and when you’re open.

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