Most industries have a competitor that they loath. For the cstore industry, it seems like all retailers, whether they sell electronics, home building, crafts, etc., are selling impulse convenience items at their checkouts. These impulse items to satisfy hunger or thirst detour the consumer from stopping at the closest convenience store. In the world where competition never sleeps, and the big saviour for convenience appears to be getting in to the fast food business, the risks and investment required for chain and independent convenience stores is significant!
One of the most profound questions to ask a cstore retailer is this …. Who is your biggest competitor? Some will answer the corporate cstore down the road that sells at prices that I can’t buy at. Others will answer the Tim Hortons that has reduced overall beverage sales by 20%. More and more retailers, though are stating that the drug store down the street now sells both impulse and take home groceries with fresh milk, fresh bread, eggs, and other.
Some cstore chains used to sell millions and millions of litres of milk a year. Milk was a destination product so much so that some cstore chains owned dairies. A lot has changed. Milk sales are still predominantly at grocery stores but drug stores have seen spectacular growth in milk and the beverage category.
While thoughts circle retailers heads on what to do next to be relevant in consumer minds, there is an old business philosophy that says “shore up what you do well today”. Convenience retailers are the choice destination for tobacco (helped by government regulation forcing the pharmacies out of selling tobacco).
Think about your biggest competitors and do you envision a model where the collective strength of the cstore retailers can be leveraged to strengthen a category or create a new one? Answer the quick survey below. Provide your thoughts for the beginning of an exciting dialogue.