Technology is constantly evolving and consumers' shopping behaviors are changing with it. The advances in technology have made people want things even quicker, appreciate environmentally friendly options more, and above all demand more convenience. For businesses, that means evolving retail models in an attempt to keep up with the quickly changing demands of customers. Especially for convenience stores, where technology could make or break a consumer's perception of the business.
Some of the latest technology that convenience stores are using:
Self Checkout: Self checkout technology has expanded to more than just grocery stores. Consumers want a quicker way to pay everywhere they go. Self-service kiosks have started to replace the traditional Point-of-Sale counter experience in businesses across the country due to the many benefits, such as:
The idea is "less is more". Customers want a more technology driven experience with less human interaction that makes their shopping faster.
Espresso bar: As we have mentioned before, high quality coffee options are becoming more popular at convenience stores. Some of the most popular coffee shops' prices have been steadily increasing. Convenience stores are taking advantage of this and have started adding in their own high quality espresso bars, upgrading their coffee services adding a wide variety of flavors and creamers. Research recently done by by Insider showed that surveyed consumers felt that 7- Eleven’s iced coffee was better than Starbucks. Great coffee isn't just an option for c-store chains anymore either.
Alternative fuel: Today, companies are prioritizing more eco-friendly options for nearly everything. Consumers have been demanding and companies are responding. Electric cars sales growth are increasing and more and more gas stations are offering electric charging stations. Some other alternative fuels are bio-diesel, ethanol, hydrogen, natural gas, and propane. Alternative gas options may not be beneficial in every location.Check here for other locations near you that offer alternative gas to see if your location is in a good location to offer alternative gases as well: https://www.afdc.energy.gov/stations/#/find/nearest
Payment Options: As cash continues to become less popular, more payment options are emerging. Less and less people are carrying cash on them and are looking for different payment options. Payments such as Venmo, Paypal, Apple Pay, and Android Pay are growing more popular and convenience stores are offering additional payment options for their consumers to fit the demands.
Mobile Payments: Companies like ExxonMobil introduced Speedpass+ that lets customers pay for their fuel with an app. Shell has an app as well where consumers can pay for their fuel and in-store purchases. Mobile paymentsare expected to triple by 2021, going from $80.7 billion in 2015 to $282.9 billion in 2021
Mobile Wallet: Apple, Android, Samsung pay are a type of mobile wallet where consumers can pay using their phone. Mobile wallet has grown more popular and merchants are adjusting to keep up with the latest technology trend.
As a small c-store owner, the growth in technology can seem intimidating. You do not have to meet the demands of technology all at once, just over time. Try starting with one small modification at a time that your c-store would do well in. Whether that be more payment options, alternative fuels, or an espresso bar, pick one that would benefit your consumers the most and focus on that.
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