Why is community involvement important aspect of convenience retailing?
With nearly 155,000 convenience stores in America and millions around the world, convenience stores are literally in every neighborhood. 93% of consumers report that they live within 10 minutes of a c-store!
Whether your store is decades old or new to the neighborhood, your business is a part of the fabric of the community – economically, socially and culturally. Kids have grown up with your store. They may even have been employed at your store – or know someone who has – because 1 in 6 Americans have worked in a convenience store. It is great for business to celebrate their community and the hard work that their neighbors have put into it.
Companies that incorporate CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs do so for different reasons – to elevate their PR profile, to increase employee engagement, for purely altruistic reasons or a combination of all three. But for those organizations that attempt CSR, one thing often becomes incredibly clear: helping those in need and all the “feel good” emotions that come with it can be incredibly addictive, so much so that giving back often ends up becoming an integral part of a company’s culture.
NACS and its retail and supplier members have been integrating CSR into their businesses long before it got its own acronym. These efforts are recognized with more than two-thirds of Americans agreeing that convenience stores share their values and do business the right way. In a September member survey, we found that retailers give $1.03 billion annually to charity!
How would a retailer develop and implement their own or program?
Especially for independent store owners, it can be daunting to figure out what to do within a new community and who to work with in terms of charities. We created the online Community Toolkit to provide companies with resources, ideas and connections for getting involved with large groups as well as with hyper-local groups like scouts, schools and neighborhood fundraisers. The toolkit also includes stories of retailers who have implemented programs like customer donation programs, in-kind product support, community event participation and celebrations of local neighbors.
One thing to remember with any program, be sure to tell your story. Communicating to your customers what your company stands for is another element of building your brand. Remember: If you don’t tell your story, then who will?
What partnerships has NACS developed to help retailers and how can they get involved.
NACS has partnered with several well-known nationwide charities with local affiliations in order to help make it a little easier to connect the dots. NACS is the first retail membership association to formally partner with the American Red Cross and Keep America Beautiful and informally with Feeding America, Share Our Strength, Children’s Miracle Network, and National Safe Place, just to name a few.
One program that is available for free to retailers is a turn-key donation program with the American Red Cross, created by NACS for retailers with fewer than 10 stores. The kit is available to order online, arrives in a week and comes with posters, POS materials, donation signs and instructions. Customers can donate $1, $3 or $5 when checking out via POS and no canister jar is needed. The Red Cross responds to more than 600,000 disasters every year – from home fires to large scale emergencies – in your neighborhood and across the U.S. and this incredibly simple program helps everyone involved feel like they’re helping.