September 28, 2020
6 min read

How Convenience Has Changed

The last time you were inside a convenience store, you may have been making an impulse purchase — a soda or a snack while you were filling up your car. Convenience stores are synonymous with spur-of-the-moment purchases, but now during COVID-19, that type of spontaneity can be rare. As a result, convenience store retailers have not only had to modify their store practices to ensure customer and employee safety, but have also changed their value proposition, taking advantage of its corner-store locations with new technologies to match.

Competition with grocery 

While consumers continue to treat themselves to sweet indulgences, the stereotype that convenience stores are stocked with only candy bars and junk food is no longer true. For consumers looking for something fast, hot and fresh food option can provide a competitive edge over grocery stores with their long lines and crowded parking lots.

According to IRI, nearly one-fifth of households purchase fresh foods from c-stores and gas stations, citing convenience as a vital factor. Adding a variety of service offerings — including sweet treats, hot and fresh foods, and snack products — will increase the number of customers that come through your doors.

Order ahead to appease busy shoppers

While the introduction of new food offerings may attract a different audience of shoppers, convenience store retailers must also ensure that shoppers don’t wait in line. Convenience stores are still called convenience stores, so busy consumers don’t want to wait to pay for their items, or for a sandwich to be made.

That’s why order-ahead apps are ideal for convenience stores. Busy consumers can place their orders ahead of time, even customizing them. What’s more, mobile ordering can link directly to loyalty and reward programs, ensuring repeat visits.

Cutting down on lines

Contactless payments or cashierless checkout are most often associated with supermarkets, as they are notorious for long lines and large baskets full of items. But shoppers shouldn’t have to wait in a line to buy just one or two products, either.

For those that order ahead or choose to pay in store, offering a payment option via a mobile device is key. Alternatively, if a shopper is in the store and sees a line forming, they can scan a QR code and pay that way. No two experiences are alike, so providing multiple POS options for a number of different shopping journeys is important for customer satisfaction.

Fuel integration

For convenience retailers that also offer fuel, paying at the pump is often a siloed experience, but has great potential to drive additional purchases. Creating one seamless journey for shoppers, whether that starts before they even arrive at the store, and continues to checkout or at the fuel pump, ensures a positive interaction and encourages loyalty, especially when rewards are established at both.

It shouldn’t take any longer for a shopper to pay for gas than it does to run inside the store and buy a banana. A slow chip reader or having to enter a PIN can delay the entire process — not to mention the need for secure payments that meet the upcoming EMV deadline.

The importance of innovation

By offering order-ahead and pay-ahead capabilities, retailers can help consumers make the most of their time and increase the size of each transaction. In a time where grocery retailers are stepping up their game, it’s imperative that convenience store retailers stay in tune with the evolving needs of their shoppers. The best mobile and payment services provide the flexibility to respond quickly and adapt over time. Let’s find the right one for your business.