What Yelp Knows About C-Store Shoppers

Part 2 in a review of King Retail Solutions’ c-store report
What Yelp knows about C-store shoppers

EUGENE, Ore. -- Retail design firm King Retail Solutions spent the beginning of 2015 gleaning useful insights out of online convenience-store customer reviews. The report broke down what reviewers appreciated most in the c-stores they wrote about, pinpointing staff friendliness as the most important factor.

Fresh food options (35%) and low prices (33%) were also frequently praised, as were beverage and food selection, speedy service, well-stocked shelves, loyalty cards and 24-hour service.

The study analyzes the most recent 550 Yelp reviews of 40 top-rated c-stores and chains. Twenty-two cities in the West, Midwest, South and Northeast are represented equally in the data with at least 140 reviews examined for each region.

Last week, we looked at what the analysis had to say about shopper priorities; now we turn to a demographic breakdown of how the insights differed from region to region and gender to gender. According to Lindsey Muth, marketing director for King Retail Solutions, there were a few surprises.

“We thought women might be poorly represented because there’s an assumption in the c-store world that women are less likely to shop a c-store, but we were pleasantly surprised that the end spread was 46% female,” Muth said. More women than men complimented the friendliness of the staff, and women valued fresh food over low prices. For men, the reverse was true.

“We were also surprised that fresh prepared foods didn’t rank as high on the West Coast,” Muth said. For every region except the West, the freshness of the food was one of the top three compliments reviewers gave. “But then, we thought about it and realized West Coast chains aren’t doing nearly as much with fresh prepared foods as some of the chains in other regions of the country,” Muth said. The data could be more indicative of supply than demand.

Should retailers encourage their customers to give feedback through sites such as Yelp? Muth believes it’s a smart strategy given that the site gets millions of visitors and it’s likely that someone will write a review about your store regardless of if you encouraged it or not.

“If you only have one lonely review on Yelp and it’s negative towards your store, your product and your staff then that’s going to look bad and potentially scare off new patrons,” Muth said. But if you actively encourage customers to share their love of your store online, “you’ll be helping to support the impression that your store is well-trafficked and well-loved.”