Hyper-personalization can go a long way in restoring the customer and convenience store relationship.
C-store experiences will have to be enhanced to reflect customer sentiments in terms of new formats, experiences, products, and innovations, like drive-through stores, contactless checkout, and more healthy food options.
Empowering the C-store with connected commerce capabilities will also provide unified pricing and seamless experience across channels enabled by AI and a strong technological architecture.
Remodeling the store to optimally manage space and support curb-side pick-up, enhancing merchandizing with the right product assortment, pricing, and promotion will also enhance customer experience. Same with managing the supply chain, which plays a big role in providing this seamless experience. Given that online ordering will be increasingly available, networks of stores with real-time shared inventory information can provide customers with a choice of destinations based upon inventory availability. With a similar demand for improved products, knowing the inventory status by store can become another differentiator. The ability to purchase online and pick up at a convenience store (perhaps via a drive-through) could be an attractive option in our post-pandemic world.
An improved payment experience could take advantage of touchless systems and secure transactions. Connecting this to a loyalty program would yield increased basket size and wallet share.
Additionally, new products like fresh and healthy food, quality coffee, or a branded quick-service restaurant can enhance brand value and increase sales. The goal: enhance product offerings from just convenience to convenience with high-quality service. One successful example is US food retailer Trader Joe’s who boasts strong customer loyalty. With limited product selection, product inventory turnovers are high and consistent with convenience store businesses. An alternative model popular in Japan relies on a smaller physical platform but more frequent daily inventory checks and stock delivery.
A restaurant operation will increase time spent at a C-store location—and it’s a useful feature for electric and hybrid vehicles. Similarly, coffee house operations are likely to create customers who don’t mind a wait.
Ancillary service offerings, like Amazon lockers for last mile delivery, to pick-up or drop-off orders can increase traffic to the location.