Coinstar exec says signage, DVDs can help increase store traffic
CHICAGO -- Noting the ever-changing nature of the convenience business, an executive with a prepaid and financial-services company on the trade show floor at last week's NACS convention said tough economic times puts even more pressure on retailers to lure customers from the pump to the store.
Calling today's economic climate "one of the most interesting, active and changing times as I've seen in 30 years," Mike Skinner, general manager of e-payment services for Coinstar, Bellevue, Wash., said that high gas prices, housing and unemployment are having an effect on one of the industry's [image-nocss] biggest demographics—immigrants.
"We're seeing many workers go home to Mexico, which has an effect on the c-store," he said. "As gas goes up in price, our consumers are visiting fewer retailers, but buying more of what they need vs. the channel grazing they've been doing in years previous."
At the same time, retailers are getting more aggressive, becoming more disciplined with category management. "It's leading us to a good place," he said.
Tough economic times put increased pressure on retailers to bring customers from the pumps into the store. Exterior communications and window signage are important tools, he said.
He also noted the rise of self-serve DVD rental kiosks. While Coinstar has a partnership with DVD-kiosk company Redbox Automated Retail, Oakbrook, Terrace, Ill., Skinner said the fact remains that the kiosks encourage more visits, as pickup and returns require at least two trips to the store.
In addition, the kiosks address issues that c-stores have had with video rental in the past, Skinner said. Some of these include the ability to stay on top of new releases and the labor issue. But a self-serve solution maintained by a third party resolves these issues and the 99-cent price point makes it "the cheapest form of entertainment a family can have when we're in tight economic times,' he said.
Other Coinstar products include self-serve coin-counting kiosks, gift cards, prepaid products, money-transfer services and skill-crane and bulk-vending machines.