Skip to content

    A Quick 2016 Trend Update

    We always keep our eyes and ears open for what’s next and what's important in the convenience and small grocery store industry. We also enjoy sharing this information with the store owners and operators that need it.  Of course, what may be most helpful to you and your business might be different from what is important to another store owner. Here is just a little of what we think everyone in the c-store and small grocery industry should be paying attention to right now.

    Pending SNAP Regulation Changes
    Since February of 2016, current SNAP authorized retailers have been awaiting the final decision on whether or not FNS’s proposed stock requirement changes will go into effect. The suggested changes to the Farm Bill could force many convenience stores out of the SNAP program.  This is a major concern of the many store owners who make up 34% of all SNAP retailers.  Luckily organizations like goEBT and NACS are advocating for these retailers and voicing our concern directly to legislators.

    As of yet, no ruling has been determined. Retailers should continue to monitor progress on this matter as we approach the time for ruling near the end of the year and start to plan for change just in case.  Find out what you could be required to do in order to remain a SNAP authorized retailer.

    Foodservice Opportunities
    Foodservice in the convenience store industry has continued to become a great opportunity for store owners to add to their business and make more money. There are several companies that partner with store owners to provide a foodservice program that will continue to build a store’s customer base and profits. Because of the various options, even store owners with a small amount of space can take advantage of the foodservice business to increase foot traffic and basket size.

    Despite the fact that some amount of financial investment will have to be made in order to implement a foodservice program, the rewards are definitely worth it. More customers are seeking hot meals in a hurry, and with the added variety for mixing and matching that a convenience store provides, this offers a unique opportunity for store owners to maximize their profits.

    Mobile Technology
    To maximize the overall customer experience in your store, cutting down on checkout time is key. Today’s payment processing technology is making this easier than ever. Now, with a simple upgrade to the right point of sale equipment, customers can pay for their items just by having their cellphone in-hand. Mobile wallet technology paired with near field communication capabilities facilitate these speedy payments and make keeping the checkout line short a much easier task.

    Unique Snacking Options
    Many c-store consumers are looking for some variety in their everyday meals and greatly appreciate the opportunity to add some excitement to their snacking. Because today’s food manufacturers are catering to the demand for plenty of options, and unique ones at that, having this variety of products available to your customers is easier than ever before. Store owners should take advantage of the opportunity to diversify their food and beverage products with the industry’s more interesting flavors.  There's nothing like a little novelty to drive impulse purchases.

    Internet Listings and Digital Marketing
    Today’s consumer values a business that they feel personally connected to, and there’s no better way to stay in touch than through the mobile devices and websites we use every day. The average consumer has a mobile device virtually glued to them at all times. Business owners and operators are finding that taking advantage of this digital landscape offers them even more opportunities to grow their customer base and increase customer loyalty.

    With social media, store owners can continue their interaction with consumers even when they’re not in-store. Try using social media to offer your customers special deals, announce new products, inform customers of any store changes, and more! Today’s consumer values a business that they feel personally connected to and there’s no better way to stay in touch than through the devices and sites we use every day.

    Even store owners with just a single location should start utilizing the internet to build their business. Just by adding your store to Google as a business location, you can attract customers that might be in the area and looking for a quick snack or even an ATM.  It's easy to do, and packs a great return.

    More EMV Shifting

    Last October, the United States made the shift to EMV chip-card technology.  Retailers were required to upgrade their point of sale device to one that was fully EMV-compliant (able to read chip cards) in order to avoid becoming responsible fraudulent purchases.  With this change, charges from fraudulent purchases in which a magnetic stripe was involved became the liability of merchants.

    Now, the deadline to upgrade to EMV-compliant fuel pumps and ATMs is fast approaching.  By October 1, 2017, store owners should replace their fuel pumps and ATMs with machines that accept chip cards to avoid the costs of fraudulent transactions.  Now is the time for merchants to start making the plans to update their machines, not only prevent additional charges or legal issues, but also to better protect consumers and maintain their trust.

    Industry Snapshot

    The convenience store industry continues to dominate due to unmatched ability to provide the convenience and speed that consumers enjoy. There is always a new development in one area or another of the business. Most are truly advancements that can help business owners continue to maximize their profits, some are regulations for structuring the industry, and some are considered challenges to the way store owners operate their businesses. Staying in the know about upcoming and current trends just provides more ideas for providing this ideal experience and an added advantage to boosting your sales and continuously improving your business.