Attention to detail can make the difference between average and outstanding. Try using the following rules – courtesy of Harris International Marketing – to enhance your overall store offer. Shoppers have more choice than ever of where to buy snacks and top-up items – make sure it’s your store they choose...


1. Clearly sign opening hours on shop front or polesign. Sales are often missed when shoppers do not realise how early/late shops are open.

2. Make use of external displays eg News, Flowers and Coal/Charcoal. Often these external displays are poorly merchandised, poorly stocked and not priced clearly… and yet they may formulate the customer’s first impression (and therefore their expectation) of the shop offer.

3. Clear front windows of point of sale/posters so that shoppers can see what is on offer inside and products can start selling to them before they even enter the shop. The longest time spent on site by many shoppers is the three minutes it takes them in fuelling the car… once in the shop they spend less than two minutes choosing goods, queuing and paying.

4. Put yourself in your shoppers shoes – first impressions are made before or as shoppers enter the site. Regularly stand on the forecourt and look at the shop to see what your potential shoppers see – what can be improved?


5. The messages on polesigns should be easily visible and readable to passing traffic and shopper.

6. Highlight ATM/Newspapers/BWS and optimise the benefit of these traffic/destination driving categories, rather than highlighting drinks/snacks /shop, (shoppers know these are available).


7. The main door should open inwards and away from the counter, thus turning peple towards the rest of the shop rather than straight towards the counter.

8. Keep aisles uncluttered. Don’t have too many aisle bulk stacks – supplier display stands which may impede the shoppers flow. Clear aisles that are easy to move around generally generate more sales.

9. Use supplier POS and branded displays to make your shop more attractive – suppliers will be happy to supply this.

10. Try in-store music – this can help add atmosphere to the shop and has been proven to increase ‘linger’ time because

customers feel more relaxed (obviously assuming that the music is appropriate.


11. Products and categories should be given space according to the sales/profit that they represent. EPOS can give you high and low seller reports or you can request top 50 lines by category for the area/region from your wholesaler or cash & carry supplier.

12. Make use of secondary units (parasite) units to optimise additional impulse sales – ie confectionery parasite unit on magazine

display or with soft drinks. Many suppliers can provide these.

13. Category sales will be optimised by

following a professionally ranged and laid-out planogram – generally the ranges need reducing in numbers to core products and best sellers. Support with planograms and their development is available through wholesalers and symbol group retailers. A professional planogram can give double digit sales growth in some categories.


14. Focus all ranges to top sellers. One variety of many products, such as washing up liquid, or beans, will be fine for the expectations of the majority of forecourt shoppers. In a forecourt environment (unless you have a shop larger than 1500sq ft) shoppers will only be using you for ‘distress’ or ‘top-up’ shopping and therefore will not expect a huge variety.

15. Keep away from cheap/value labels – this is not necessary in a forecourt and offering them will reduce the overall shoppers spend and possibly detract from your brand image and the image that known and trusted core brands will bring.


16. Price all items. It is a legal requirement by Trading Standards to price all products or you are liable to a £2,000 fine. Shelf-edge labeling is adequate as pricing items individually is extremely labour intensive.

17. Make sure items are clearly priced – shoppers will assume that any products that are not marked are very high in price… therefore feeding the belief that forecourts are expensive.

18. Avoid price-marked products – in forecourts and c-stores shoppers are willing to pay a premium – 2-3p on confectionery and snacks and 5-7p per pack on rrp of tobacco would be the norm. Stocking products that are unnecessarily discounted will only reduce your margin.


19. Stock a range of promotions to help change shoppers’ negative opinion of forecourt shop pricing. Promotions account for approx 20% of sales at wholesalers, so could/ should represent a similar ratio of shop sales.

20. Try leaflet drops highlighting offer and promotions. Stores that distribute a regular leaflet to their quarter-mile catchment do higher turnover and have better shopper price ratings than stores that do not.

21. Try ‘pump top’ promotions where shoppers get a product at a discounted price if they spend a certain amount on fuel or in the shop.


22. Keep all product lines well stocked – out-of-stocks are responsible for 34% of all missed sales.


23. Make sure key traffic drivers are very clearly signed both inside and outside the store eg milk, newspapers, customer toilets, ATMs, phone cards etc. Ask your suppliers for more POS.

24. Don’t make signs too wordy eg ’Fresh milk daily’. A simple 1 metre ‘MILK’ is fine.


25. Adapt a policy of ‘more than two is a queue’ – speed of service is of key importance to forecourt shoppers and can determine which petrol station and shop they will use.

26. Train staff to manage queues – do everything possible to aid faster service. Don’t avoid eye contact, apologise for the wait.


27. Give newspapers a high visibility location – 30% of newspaper buyers at forecourts buy the newspaper on impulse (ie they did not arrive intending to buy it, source: News International 2002). Getting an external newspaper display (and if space allows both external and internal) is the best way to

‘sell’ newspapers.

28. Make sure that the front covers and headlines are clearly displayed to increase impulse sales.

29. It is essential that newspapers do not go out of stock – shoppers are extremely loyal to their regular newspaper and you risk losing their custom for good if it is not available.

30. Use creative wastage – if papers look like they may get left over near the end of the day, find ways to ‘give them away’ for extra sales – for example ‘spend over £x in store (do not make the threshold too high) and receive a free newspaper’; or a ‘free newspaper with every car wash’.


31. Magazines should be displayed by interest vertically (except Adult magazines). Shoppers do not shop along a fixture, they shop it up and down.

32. Adult magazines should be stocked to complete range as they account for over 12% of magazine sales. Modesty covers should be used to avoid offence to some customers.

33. Titles should not be ‘fanned’ – full facings are needed to optimise sales.


34. Stock national, quality brands. Although local brands may be cheaper (at cost and retail), it will not optimise overall category sales as shoppers expect to see national, quality brands such as Heinz or Ginsters sandwiches, which also trade shoppers up to a higher spend.


35. Confectionery should be merchandised in a highly-visible location. It is the most impulsive category sold in forecourts.

36. Display top-selling lines nearest to the counter and king-size products above standard, making it easier for shoppers to buy the larger, higher-priced variant.


37. Make sure milk can be easily seen from the store entrance with VERY clear

signage – it is one of the highest traffic generators within C-retailing. Alldays grew their sales by 14% simply by displaying one-colour arrow-shaped signs that said: ‘MILK HERE’ and ‘BREAD HERE’.

38. Merchandise vertically with the highest price point/largest size at eye level (buy level) ie a vertical block of milk – four pint at eye level, then merchandising down to one pint with associated dairy products on base.


39. Coke should be first in flow within the planogram. It is still one of the top

three lines and a key signpost product for the

category – ie one of the first products that the shopper sees on entering the shop (to pull them into the store rather than head straight for the counter).

40. Make sure your range and display reflects the importance of water and energy drinks – 30% Colas, 20% flavours, 25% energy, 25% water. Red Bull now outsells Coke in £cash in forecourts. Is it properly represented?


41. Stock your bakery to fulfill customer demand not to sell out – most retailers will accept that this category requires an ‘investment’ of around 10% (of sales value) in wastage in order to optimise sales in a category that delivers between 56-60% margin. Even if wastage is at 10%, the retained margin is still one of the highest if not THE highest of all products sold.

42. Use ‘creative wastage’– products reaching the end of their life are cut into sample sizes and given to customers rather than thrown out – this can drive ‘trial’, many new sales and also promote a positive experience for the



43. Stock fruit and vegetables to a very high standard or they will detract from the rest of the store. To see how to do Fruit & Veg well you should look at any supermarket, and that will be the standard that shoppers expect!


44. Stock best sellers in Grab-bag size to appeal to the male customer and help shoppers spend higher by approx 12p per pack.

45. Merchandised crisps and sweets on shelves, not in cut boxes – this looks very unprofessional. Crisps are not displayed in boxes in any ‘best-in-class’ retailer.

ATM (Cash machine)

46. Get an ATM – it is a traffic generator, an income generator, and shoppers using an ATM visit more often and spend more per visit. Make sure your ATM is clearly signed inside and outside the store.


47. Add alcohol to your offer. Alcohol accounts for approx 12% of sales when added to the forecourt shop.

48. Keep some lager and white wine chilled – most alcohol purchases from c-stores (especially forecourts) are for consumption in the next two hours and therefore chilling is crucial to optimise sales.

49. Put promotional wine into dump-bins within the impulse flow and a beer bulk stack displayed in front of the counter to optimise the impulse sales and also to create additional awareness that BWS is sold.


50. Always keep in mind who the most important person is – THE SHOPPER!