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2018 Store Design Tips: Be Experiential

The customer experience is a competitive edge for brick-and-mortar

TEUTOPOLIS, Ill. -- Ever since the 1990s, Meyer Oil Co., Teutopolis, Ill., has tried to separate its c-stores from the competition with design choices, profit centers and other elements that say its Mach 1 c-stores are special.

In 2011, when the company decided new builds would become its complete focus, all those innate proclivities began to align. Design motifs and profit centers emerged that deliver on customization, interactivity and product quality.

“Our themes are modern, clean and fast, and our stores are abundantly different,” says Alan Meyer, CEO of Meyer Oil and its chain of 20 Mach 1 c-stores. “We don’t have to do a lot of advertising because our stores are our marketing pieces.”

Sleek lines and a bold blue, red and orange color scheme, plus 3D signage for beer, fountain and cooler sections, communicate vibrancy. Low-level shelving units and prominent signage help customers navigate the stores easily and quickly.

That’s not to say everyone wants to get in and out. Meyer is aware of the hardships brick-and-mortar faces against disruptive home-delivery services. To that end, his stores offer multiple interesting, often interactive and engaging services. For instance, several Mach 1 stores offer free car vacuuming; people can pull up into parking stalls and use the equipment at no cost.

Profit centers also have a role in playing up the experiential elements of the store. At Mach 1 stores, a bean-to-cup coffee offer allows customers to make a perfect brew. With touchscreen technology and internal automation, the new coffee maker grinds the beans on demand, then brews and dispenses the beverage. Such technology adds to the in-store experience, Meyer says, making the store even that much more interesting.

“Experience is everything,” says Michael Lawshe, president and chief customer experience officer for Paragon Solutions, Fort Worth, Texas. “If you create a memorable experience, people will come back.”

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Photograph courtesy of Mach 1

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