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Convenience Stores (Gas Station, Metro Station, Airport)

Convenience Stores (Gas Station, Metro Station, Airport)

Meaning of Convenience Store and How it is Different

In retailing, there is a unique market spot for on-the-move, emergency, and/or unplanned purchases of routine consumer products. This spot is occupied by convenience stores. Ideal locations for convenience stores are transit hubs like airports, gas stations, bus terminals, etc. It is uncommon for customers to visit convenience stores for making any planned, routine, and/or big-ticket purchases. Convenience stores are meant to fulfil quick needs. These needs are realised or emerge suddenly. The creation of need and the purchase decision is quick.

Because of these unique functionalities i.e. to be able to fulfil unplanned, quick, and emergency needs, most convenience stores remain open for extended hours. Convenience stores also maintain extensive merchandise. These are like value-added or premium services and hence, price discounts are rare in convenience stores.

Customers visit routine grocery or departmental stores with an element of planned certainty. For example, it is common among households to assess consumption patterns and plan purchases. The same does not hold for convenience stores. The elements of planning and certainty are both missing when buying from convenience stores except when that is consciously done. For example, while filling gas, it may be suddenly remembered that there is no milk at home. This realisation could also be triggered by seeing a convenience store or any other relevant visual trigger.

Convenience Stores in Transit Hubs as a Business Opportunity

Convenience stores in transit hubs like airports, gas stations, metro stations, or bus terminals are not a new phenomenon. But now the business model is becoming popular and the reasons have stayed the same.

Buying On-The-Move

One of the leading reasons why convenience stores are popular is because they let customers buy while commuting or travelling. As discussed earlier, this presents a unique market opportunity or rather in consumer behaviour. This behaviour is recalling things needed back at home while commuting or travelling. Convenience stores in transit hubs are a common place for visual triggers. The scope of expanded decision-making is zero to none which means sales from a business viewpoint.

Wrapping up Small or Forgotten Needs

Customers do not always get everything covered from their routine grocery stores, departmental stores or even supermarkets. Or sometimes they forget to register goods needed on their shopping lists. Convenience stores are an easy and suitable alternative to wrap up such shopping needs.

But does it work for transit hubs? In any busy or cosmopolitan city, a significant number of people travel and commute long distances every day. And people do forget to plan their purchases properly or feel the urge or need to buy something en route.

Comprehensive Merchandising

Another feature of convenience stores is that these stores are required to maintain a wide merchandising portfolio. There may not be an option of bulk buying but nearly every conceivable consumer product is found in good convenience stores. From safety pins to perfumes, maintaining a comprehensive merchandising portfolio is essential for convenience stores. This also works well with customer segments that have uncommon and unique requirements (chefs/food enthusiasts for example).

The ability to cover a wide range of needs makes convenience stores stand out in the crowd of routine grocery stores. This merchandising uniqueness makes convenience stores an attractive spot to buy products which are not available in the local, residential stores. Customers can even plan their purchases if they know in advance if any convenience store in their travel route keeps those products.

Untimely Needs

Unplanned demand was briefly discussed earlier. Untimely needs are an example of unplanned needs or purchasing. And it is quite common to have an untimely need while travelling or commuting. A suitable example from recent history would be masks and sanitisers. Sometimes the masks get damaged or people run out of their pocket sanitisers. Convenience stores come to the rescue for such untimely needs. While the use of masks and sanitisers is receding, there are plenty of other products (or their packaging sizes) which fit into the category of untimely needs.


Convenience stores often tie up with filling stations. It is a mutually-beneficial business relationship for both sides. In such tie-ups, convenience stores save on real estate and get access to a moving stream of potential customers. Filling stations, by sharing any unused space, make better use of their real estate resource and also enhance the possibility of gaining more customers attracted due to the presence of a convenience store in the same premise.

Convenience stores are a relatively new concept and cater to urban markets. These stores tend to be highly modernised with eye-catching layouts, planograms, and visual appearances. The wide merchandising covers unique brands and products. In addition to the element of utility, convenience stores reflect the demands of uber, cosmopolitan cities.

Convenience stores enjoy an advantage when it comes to promotions. They know where customers are – probably better than any other business. It becomes easy for them to identify the physical or digital touchpoints for advertising which often are trains and metro stations, buses and bus stands, highways to airports, websites and apps of hotels and travel agencies, etc.

Challenges in Transit Retailing or Travel Retailing

Achieving accuracy in demand forecasting

Convenience stores in transit hubs encounter several challenges in achieving precision in demand forecasting. One of the biggest challenges is the dynamic nature of demand in travel-based purchasing. And since convenience stores maintain extensive merchandising (even in limited quantities), the risk of many products not getting sold always remains high. Another problem area is the shortage of external data for analytics. Because purchasing in convenience stores often takes place in unplanned ways, online search activities are limited creating a scarcity of data for use in demand analytics.

Attracting Customers

Every passenger is a potential customer and yet no one may buy anything. Convenience stores are dependent on the need for the realisation of customers. The time window for this to happen is very narrow.

Talking about convenience stores in airports and metro stations, products are priced relatively higher or no discounts are offered. Customers who are aware of this would avoid buying except in dire situations. Routine passengers would rather plan their purchases.

High Rentals

Like in the case of any other rented property, the rentals for commercial space in transit hubs are also subject to annual or periodical hikes. While rents keep increasing, the dimensions of space remain the same. This increases the commercial burden of businesses every time there are rental hikes. If this increase in rent expenditure does not get compensated with a proportionate or similar increase in revenue, it begins to reflect negatively on financial statements. The same fundamental applies to other operating expenses as well.

Longer Replenishment Time

Convenience stores in transit hubs are subject to security rules and regulations laid down by concerned authorities. The inventory that enters the premises must pass through stringent security checks and screens. This slows down the stock replenishment operations of stores. Businesses have to initiate their procurement processes keeping this time requirement in mind. This slowdown also affects the ability of stores to make quick merchandising adjustments.

Limited Space

With limited space, convenience stores have very little room to play with their merchandising skills. Adding to the woes, some stores do not even have additional space for stocking. Limited stocking abilities of a store affect the variety of goods it can offer to its customers. This makes transit retailing more challenging for stores with small spaces.

The Pain of Returns and Refunds

After passengers leave a transit hub, the process of return and refund becomes a slow and challenging process for both retailers and customers. And in the case of airports, thinking of returns and refunds is nothing short of intimidation. Most retailers make it clear upfront that returns and refunds may not be possible. This whole thing is a major discouragement from customers’ perspective.

Longer Working Hours

There are transit hubs that function 24×7 for public convenience and meeting consumer demand. And many convenience stores in such places try to imitate the same routine. Such routines mean shift-based working that is stressful and exhausting for both business owners and employees.

Longer Onboarding Time

Working inside a transit hub like an airport is subject to stringent rules and regulations. In addition to the in-house checks and measures, employers also have to adhere to the protocols and standards laid down by concerned authorities. So, recruiting and onboarding take longer than usual for employees whose work location involves a transit hub.


YRC is a boutique retail and eCommerce consulting brand specialising in business management and business growth & expansion. Having worked with more than 500 clients in 25+ verticals, YRC has emerged as an emerging global brand. Our services and solutions are designed and carried out by a team of expert retail and eCommerce consultants with diversified professional exposure and experience. Our working is directed by demonstrated principles and processes. In transit retailing, startups and existing businesses can benefit from our broad range of services as per suitability and exclusive business requirements.

In business model development, we assist clients in identifying and developing robust, sustainable, and unique value propositions. The entire value chain is mapped detailing the best way to create and deliver the value propositions to the target segments.

In financial and commercial planning, we crunch the numbers in the form of budgets and projections required to pull off business ideas. The assessments cover demand forecasts, projections of sales and revenue, CAPEX and OPEX requirements, inventory and procurement planning, estimated profit and loss statements, ROI and break-even analysis, etc.

One of the major challenges in transit and travel retailing is space optimisation without compromising on the bigger marketing goals and CX objectives. In layout planning, we have an extensive array of proven solutions customisable to fit unique requirements and specifications. Implementing proven and improvised layout plans help businesses adopt long-lasting solutions in a short span of time.

Robust operations planning is vital for all businesses and convenience stores are no exception. We use SOPs in mapping and defining business processes. It helps owners of convenience stores focus on bigger business goals like customer acquisition and retention and other marketing endeavours. SOP development & implementation assistance is one of our flagship services.

To know more about YRC’s retail consulting services or if you want any business-related query on travel and transit retailing addressed by one of our expert retail consultants, drop us your contact coordinates and somebody from the team will reach out to you.

Let’s Talk!


    How to start a convenience store in a transit hub?

    Some of the important steps in starting a convenience store are:

    • Business idea validation,
    • Formation of the core team,
    • Business model development,
    • Market research,
    • Locational analysis,
    • Formulation of functional strategies
    • Operations planning,
    • Business plan development including financial and commercial planning
    • Layout planning
    • Understanding of and adherence to the governing laws and rules and regulations
    What are the challenges in transit retailing?

    Here are some of the challenges often faced by business owners in transit or travel retailing:

    Difficulties in making precise demand forecasting: Travel-based purchasing is unpredictable when it comes to establishing demand patterns. There is also a shortage of external data for analytics.

    Difficulties in attracting customers: Every passenger is a potential customer and yet there may be no purchases.

    High Rentals: Without an increase in revenue or space for more goods, annual rental hikes increase the commercial burden of convenience stores located in transit hubs.

    Longer Replenishment Time: Stringent security checks and screens applicable in transit hubs slow down the stock replenishment operations of convenience stores located within.

    Limited Space: With limited space, convenience stores in transit hubs have very little room for quick variations in merchandising or even stocking in advance.

    Difficulties in Returns and Refunds: After passengers leave a transit hub, the process of return and refund becomes a distant and challenging process for both retailers and customers.

    Can I start a convenience store with a minimalist space?

    No space is small if rightly used. The solution is layout planning for convenience stores. One of the biggest hurdles in transit or travel retailing is space optimisation without losing the connection with bigger marketing goals and CX objectives. The access to proven and improvised layout plans help business owners quickly adopt effective solutions.

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    We work only for Visionaries.


    The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

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    Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

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    No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

    Photography includes the following steps:

    • Cataloguing your products
    • Cataloguing your images
    • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
    • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)


    Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

    Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

    These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

    Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

    This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.


    Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

    YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

    IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

    This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

    Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.


    • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
    • Where should your Warehouse be located?
    • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
    • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
    • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
    • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
    • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
    • How much space do I require for warehouse?
    • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.


    At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

    We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

    Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.


    This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

    Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

    From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

    Part 2: UX Designing:

    “UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

    UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

    “As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

    An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

    Part 3: UI Designing:

    UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

    A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

    The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

    If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

    At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!


    This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

    In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

    Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

    Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

    Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

    Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

    Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

    Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.


    Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

    Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

    • In-house Design Team
    • Freelance Designers
    • Outsourced Design Team
    • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

    At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

    These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

    If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

    Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.


    Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

    Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

    It is an integral part to attract the target audience.


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    SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

    At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.


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    CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

    CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

    At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.


    Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

    Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

    Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

    YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.


    Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.