How To Open a Convenience Store As a New Business Owner?

Published on:
May 28, 2024
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Are you looking for ways on how to open a convenience store - and that too, in today’s competitive day n’ age? 

You’re not alone. 

With roughly 154,000 convenience stores nationwide and a whopping $233 billion in sales in the U.S. last year alone, this industry shows no signs of slowing down. 

The industry is clearly headed upward, which means now is the perfect time for those interested in starting their own business to carve out their niche.

How does one move from dreaming of owning a convenience to actually doing it in a hassle-free manner?

You can learn from the people who have already done it. Many owners and managers of convenience stores credit their success to copying what has already proven to be successful for others.

Defying popular opinions, you do not have to be a giant player like Amazon to thrive in this sector. You may be shocked to find out that 60% of all convenience stores are privately owned and operated. That just proves that the bonus is right within your reach.

And if you think about setting up one of your own, odds are you will make a success of it if you follow the best practices, and have the right technology and processes in place.

Of course, if you follow all legal processes involved in making such works. However, the question remains:  what are the tasks involved in starting a convenience store? What are the steps or processes to follow, how does one run such an outlet? 

Whether you're a new start-up looking for advice to get your business going or an established business owner looking to increase sales, this guide will take you through all of this and so much more as we take a sneak peek into how to open a convenience store. 

So let's get into it!

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Convenience Store: What’s Driving The Growth Factor?

In recent years, convenience stores have significantly improved through changes in customers' preferences for convenience and speedy shopping. 

Convenience stores are small-scale supermarkets that provide the most basic items that are consumed in routine life.

The current global market figures for Convenience Stores look to be a $2.2tr industry with an expected CAGR% of 5.56 up to 2028, a large part of this is through emerging markets but CAGR for the US market looks very similar. Demand is driven through convenience becoming a general concept and a reduction in limits on opening hours.

In terms of convenience purchasing, internet shopping has become the go-to option for the majority of people. 

However, there will always be a market for in-store browsing; for instance, at the last minute, someone could choose to pick up a few beers or chocolate from the corner convenience shop. 

A combination of factors, including more people living in large cities and the convenience of longer shopping hours, has led to the expansion of convenience stores.

One major challenge for this industry is that now, online shopping has increased by 11.9% every year since 2013. With e-commerce being so convenient to buy anything, anytime and from anywhere, it’s killing the market share, especially in the convenience industry; however, the actual revenues generated from e-commerce are still much less impacting the industry at the moment.

This suggests that this industry has its place, and knowing how to open a convenience store is as much about location as it is about getting ready for a bundle of other factors and challenges. But what about once you’ve found a place? There’s plenty more to think about, so let’s get into a step-by-step guide right away. 

How to Open a Convenience Store - 5 Easy Steps for Beginners

  1. Set a Business Strategy 

Anyone wanting to start a convenience store must first create a business plan, a daunting task for someone new to business planning. To make the process less intimidating

  • Begin by compiling a thorough outline and identifying the type and size of your proposed convenience store. 
  • Then develop a business plan that could be used to obtain financing to open the store and keep it operating profitably.

Writing a business plan helps you to focus on the essential operations of your convenience store. The act of planning helps you to think thoroughly, study and research if you are not sure of the facts, and look at your ideas critically. It takes time earlier but avoids costly, perhaps disastrous, mistakes later.

Moreover, a business plan is vital to input when attempting to attain financial backing from banks or other lenders because banks and other lenders will use a business plan to assess whether a business is viable to lend to or unsure. Financial institutions will be interested in your ability to construct the business plan, but also in what the financial situation looks like over some time.

Deep research and analysis are the keys to creating an effective business plan. 

Your research should include studying local market conditions. Use local economic development to find out about your target market, consumer preferences and target audiences, current visitors, and finally, other businesses. Once you gather information you will have more idea of what you want to do. Then, write an analysis of what you learned about the local market and the best ways to market your product. This will help you choose the best price and positioning to make your mobile food stand stand out.

Over time, as you develop your business plan, you will want to think about what your ideal customer looks like and the profile of your ideal customer as you write your business plan. Understanding the needs, wants, and characteristics of your target customer base is critically important because it will help you understand how to create, advertise, and sell a product or service that appeals to your target customer base.

Over time, when a product or service evolves to meet the needs of your customers, you can ensure that there is room for your business to thrive and grow and that you have a base of customers that are loyal to your store.

Be sure to include startup and operating costs, such as inventory purchases, lease or rental fees, utilities, payroll, marketing expenses, and more to ensure your new business will not bring you into the poor house before you even get started. Don't forget to be thorough and realistic with your numbers. Consider possible fluctuations and unforeseen expenses accordingly.

Furthermore, consider all this and create a comprehensive financial forecast that calculates your expected revenues, expenses, and the big question of profitability. With this detailed analysis, you will now be able to see the financial health of your business and potential growth which will make it easier to get a loan and make proper decisions in the future.

  1. Choosing a Suitable Location 

Selecting the right location for your convenience store is a make-or-break decision. 

No matter how great your products and marketing are, if you put your store in the wrong place you won’t be able to attract customers and stay in business. Whether launching a new store or acquiring an existing one, this is why it’s critical to conduct wide-scale, in-depth foot-traffic research to ensure that the location you’ve chosen is optimum.

If you’re starting a new store or purchasing an existing one, consider the following guidelines to improve your chances of success: 

  • Avoid areas that are saturated with competing stores, this can dilute your customer base. This is particularly a concern in some drug chains or large grocery store-saturated areas.
  • Try not to locate your store in a secluded area, buried in an office building, or alley. It is all about visibility! You need to get people in the door and this may hamper your ability to do that.
  • Consider locations with high potential repeat customers. 
  • Residential neighborhoods
  • Busy and growing office complexes
  • Near a school
  1. Make Sure You Have a Permit

Once you have found the perfect location for your convenience store, the next step is to make sure your business is in compliance with the law and has all the proper licenses and permits. Without these licenses and permits, your business will not be considered legal, which means you could be penalized and have to shut down your business.

Here are some licenses and permits you will more than likely need to run your convenience store:

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): Only needed if you plan to hire employees and for tax purposes.
  • Occupation Permit: You must have this to legally own and run your store at the location you choose.
  • Alcohol and Tobacco License: You need this license if you plan to sell alcoholic beverages and or tobacco products.
  • City or County Business License: You must have this if you intend to operate your store within the city and or county line.
  • Health Permit: It’s important to obtain a health permit from your local health and safety department to legally sell food and beverages.
  1. Strong Financial Management 

Strong financial management practices are key to the long-term success of your convenience store. Monitoring and optimizing your finances benefits your bottom line and helps to identify potential risks.

Track sales ratios and profit margins: Regularly analyze the sales rates and gross profit margins of each product in your inventory. Look for products that are the most cost-effective and that contribute to higher profitability. Adjust your purchasing and pricing strategy to sell more of these most profitable ones. By optimizing your product mix, you’ll be able to sell more at higher profits and lower costs.

Look for retail shrinkage: Keep a watchful eye on retail shrinkage, which refers to the difference between sales and inventory. A rise in shrinkage might be a sign of theft or inventory mismanagement. To detect and tackle shrinkage effectively, establish strong inventory control measures and regularly perform audits.

Cash Flow Management: Keep your cash flow as positive as possible – this means getting as much cash into your business while at the same time keeping your expenses down. Negotiate with suppliers to get great terms and look for efficiencies in how you order. It will mean you have the cash you need to keep your business running smoothly – giving you the ability to grow.

Optimize Sales Volume: Increasing sales volume and identifying the right pricing strategy is the core of profitability in a convenience store. Keep an eye on your sales volumes and the impact on your strategic pricing to increase generating revenue. Analyze and monitor promotional offers, deal bundles, and strategic pricing shifts to fuel incremental sales while maintaining profitability.

  1. Choose the Right Convenience Store Software

72%  of customers say the ability to shop in real-time is one reason they might switch to a competitor. Investing in sound technology and security systems is vital for the success and sustainability of your convenience store business.

Through modern digital solutions, you can streamline operations, and boost security and overall efficiency. Here is why you should digitize your convenience stores.

  • By selecting a robust convenience store software solution, you will be able to manage your finances in addition to your inventory.
  • You can access your data and reports from anywhere there’s an internet connection. This gives you the convenience and flexibility of managing and monitoring your store 24/7 without having to physically be at your location.
  • Elite convenience store's back-office tool offers in-depth analysis and reporting. Analyzing sales, customer, and inventory trends will provide ideas for expansion or further marketing strategies and reasoning to validate your business decision-making.
  • Advanced technology solutions also enhance the level of security you have in your store. Integrated security solutions including surveillance cameras, alarm systems, and access controls can help prevent theft and vandalism.
  • By utilizing retail analytics and insights into your customer base, convenience store software enables you to group your customers by behaviors, preferences, and purchase history. This allows you to run more personalized campaigns, and to be more imaginative and customized in how you communicate with your customers. As such, you’ll be able to create better discounts, promotions, and loyalty programs to drive member engagement and purchase frequency.

How does Xenia Help Convenience & Retail Store Managers?

The Convenience Store Management Software Market is growing because the industry of C-store strives for a 6.6% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) during the forecasted period.

Considering today’s dynamic scenario it has become quite paramount to opt for innovative solutions across the sector to drive operational efficiency and improve customer satisfaction, which further helps the growth of the modern convenience retailing business.

Xenia is the ultimate solution for C-Store managers looking for a robust convenience store software for end to end operations management. 

The platform’s Centralized Operations Dashboard allows you to see everything that is happening right across your estate in an instant. It provides real-time visibility of tasking, maintenance tasks, and team performance, which means nothing can slip through your fingers.

Managers stay in control, are informed, and can put things right if something goes wrong, quickly!

Real-Time Reporting and Analytics capabilities ensure actionable insights are just a click away. Convenience store managers are empowered to spot trends, incorporate operational efficiencies, and seize opportunities to drive growth. Armed with data-driven insights, managers can make informed decisions, which drive better performance and higher profits.

Moving on, Operations Templates are completely customizable, simple to use, and allow workflows to be streamlined. Stay up to date on the spot with critical personally designed forms & receive unparalleled insights to make the right decisions every time.

What differentiates Xenia from competitors is its vastly full workflow management: having the availability to build very detailed workflows - do tasks and track them - means your team can all work seamlessly together no matter how far apart they are; all in the same store or spread over multiple sites, the fact is everyone is on the same page meaning much-increased accountability and much better operating!

Dedicated Store Task Management: Assign tasks as they come up and track their progress to ensure accountability and procedural usage with Xenia. The task management of a convenience store manager is made easy with Xenia making operations run smoother and increasing productivity.

Unlimited SOPs with Integrated A.I. Assistant: AI Assistant allows store managers to easily create, update, and distribute SOPs, ensuring compliance and consistency across all store locations. 

Smart Inspection Workflow: Improves performance with built-in conditional logic that quickly enables changes and upgrades to inspection workflows. Xenia empowers convenience store managers to fine-tune inspection processes, identify areas for improvement, and verify compliance with regulatory standards.

Centralized Chats: Keep the entire team in the loop, including line workers and management, with Xenia’s integrated chat feature. Whether updating your staff, discussing tasks, or resolving issues the chat will keep the conversation clean between the team at the store.

Task Scheduling: Monitor regular procedures to identify and resolve any difficulties, or missed deadlines. This feature Xenia enables convenience store managers to watch procedural adherence, detect early warning signs, and deal promptly with matters that arise, to ensure the operation of truly smooth valuable store mortgages and maximize customer satisfaction.

Seamless Multi-location Control: With consistent reporting across all of your convenience store locations you will see a boost in productivity and be able to make more educated decisions. With our unified insights and analytics, convenience store managers can work efficiently, properly allocate resources, and grow their business in multiple locations.

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