Increasing Foot Traffic with Add-On Services
By Angela Altass
The services that your store provides to customers can have a significant impact on your business. In this article, we look at some add-on services you might consider offering your customers if you don’t already have them.
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) can attract customers to your store. “ATMs, for some people, are the destination item they are looking for, which brings added traffic to a location,” says Doug Whitehead, owner of Evolution Cash Technologies. “Others use ATMs on impulse because they’re handy.”
There are many ATM providers with many different options, notes Whitehead.
“As one would do for any business expense, due diligence is important when choosing the ATM solution for your store,” says Whitehead. “Things change, and one might want to rent a machine for a while to see how it works and then purchase to increase revenue. Renting versus owning is probably a question that your accountant best answers. Depending on the contract with the supplier, there can be additional expenses.”
ATMs last many years and the important thing to keep in mind is the added traffic and revenue that the machines can provide from such a small footprint states Whitehead.
Gift Cards are a proven method to increase foot traffic to stores, says Rebecca Winter, director retail sales, Payment Source.
“Gift card customers will likely purchase additional products, which means more money for your business,” says Winter. “Retailers near schools will see increased traffic as kids come in to buy cards for online gaming or subscriptions and will often purchase snacks too. Retailers in areas with many new Canadians or underbanked populations can benefit from gift cards as the customers will use them to access digital services that would otherwise require a credit card.”
Payment Source offers a selection of popular gift cards to make your store a convenient, one-stop-shop for the most popular retail brands, says Winter. A highly visible area near the front door or cash area is the best location for gift card displays.
“We send retailers a free gift card spinner ready out of the box,” says Winter. “If store owners are going to use their own slat wall space, we recommend that they use a highly visible area and that the pegs be placed at eye level. We provide our retailers with marketing material, such as window decals, posters, wobblers, and other promotional items that we recommend be placed in their stores. The decals and posters are most successful when placed at eye level on an entrance door or a window directly to the left or right of the main entrance. If gas pumps are available, we recommend using some of the material provided there for optimal success.”
Retailers earn a percentage commission for each successful gift card activation.
“The more transactions they do, the more revenue they will earn,” explains Winter, noting that each product varies in regard to the percentage earned. “The great thing about our gift card program is that the retailer is not charged for the card until they activate it. We provide all of the inventory to them based on a consignment model. We manage the gift card inventory so the retailer doesn’t have to. When they’re low, we automatically send them a new shipment.”
While retailers don’t need to be proficient in all products, having some knowledge is helpful, says Winter.
Consumers have always loved gift cards, says Cole Baldwin, business expert and sales leader at Square Canada. Square Marketing, launched in Canada last November, allows retailers to promote their gift card programs to customers through email and let them know about special discounts or promotions.
Loyalty programs are also effective for convenience stores because they add value to the customer experience beyond the first interaction purchase, notes Baldwin.
“In an industry based on convenience rather than loyalty, a loyalty program that rewards customers for continuing patronage and engagement can go a long way, notes Baldwin.
Canada Post often reaches out to local businesses to gauge their interest in hosting a postal outlet. The main criteria for partnering with a business to host a postal outlet is the need for the service in the community. An interested business can submit an application through the Canada Post website www.canadapost.ca.
“There are basic initial criteria that must be met,” says Phil Legault, media relations, Canada Post. “It must be a retail trade business. The building must be accessible to those with mobility issues. There needs to be enough space to accommodate postal services and the business must have convenient regular hours and be ready to invest in the postal outlet.”
Package drop-off and pick-up programs can attract customers. PUDO is a courier-neutral parcel pick-up and drop-off technology and logistics network.
“PUDO’s model was purposely built for the convenience store sector and the results have been amazing,” says Frank Coccia, founder and CEO, PUDO Inc. “We are not a courier company and this is the advantage that the PUDO network and our technology has over direct courier relationships. Our technology connects e-commerce retailers and consumers with couriers of their choice resulting in more foot traffic for participating c-stores.”
There are several add-on service opportunities to consider for your store; whichever ones you decide to offer will influence which consumers do business at your location.
“We have all services that a convenience store would provide,” comments Gino Vecia, vice president of sales, Hasty Market Corporation. “Various sites have copying, flowers, ATMs, plus local bitcoin, and we have hooked up with Uber and DoorDash at several sites also.”
Enniskillen General Store, with four Ontario locations: Enniskillen, Peterborough, Bowmanville, and Oshawa, has ATMs and also sells postage stamps.
“We don’t have flowers but we have talked about adding flowers for certain holidays,” notes owner Thomas Sheehan. “We also have an outdoor patio where people can sit and eat ice cream they’ve purchased in the store.”