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The Changing Attitude Towards Tech in the Convenience Store

C-stores are becoming sophisticated retail outlets

As an industry, retail has spent the last couple of years re-inventing the in-store experience. One that provides not only a personalized customer journey, but one that caters to their lifestyle – such as supermarket cafes, or book shop coffee outlets. While convenience stores lagged behind other forms of retail for a while, they are fast on track for delivering the ultra-convenience demanded by customers today and radically improving the overall shopping experience:  a gas station should offer more than just fuel; it should offer a pit-stop for busy customers to relax, enjoy hot food at the counter and take advantage of tailored product promotions on offer.

This trend sees C-stores moving away from conventional gas and travel supplies. As with other forms of retail, C-stores are moving to provide spaces for customers to stay longer – they’re achieving this by offering fresh food, hot beverages and a relaxing environment. The idea is that gas stations are no longer quick pit-stops, but rather a place to take a longer break. The net effect is to maximize the profitability of these retail locations while providing customers with an enhanced offering. This is similar to the transformation that airports undertook: at one point, airport terminals were simply areas in which to wait for one’s flight. Now, they host a range of restaurants, fast food outlets, coffee shops and consumer goods stores.

Amazon Go shifts the needle

The world of retail moves quick and fast, and so just as C-stores are modernizing fast, Amazon Go has shook the retail world to its very core with ‘frictionless sales’. Now many retailers are seeking ways to compete with this new store of the future. C-stores will be under pressure to introduce frictionless sales, the reason being that the very name implies they must excel in convenience.

Upselling and brand loyalty are priorities for C-stores

Not only are C-stores implementing new innovations to ease the in-store experience; they’re also creating their own brands, rather than making deals with fast food and coffee brands. This is to both increase profit margins and generate brand loyalty. Because of this, they are creating and managing their own promotions, pricing and smartphone apps, and so they need the ability to rapidly deploy new applications across all their stores across the US.

In addition to providing a more relaxing experience for travellers, they’re also thinking of ways to up-sell to those who still wish to use a gas station as a quick pit-stop. One example of this is the introduction of touchscreens at pumps, which inform customers of promotions, loyalty bonuses, and more.

The increasing need for a flexible, secure on-site IT infrastructure

As the many tech trends in retail continue to permeate to C-stores, there will be an increased demand for the IT architecture to support such changes on-site at the ‘edge’, where customers meet C-stores face to face.  The need for a more flexible, centrally managed platform is becoming ever more apparent. This will provide C-stores with a real competitive advantage, enabling new applications and new requirements to be rolled out faster than ever across multiple stores. For more insights regarding the C-store market, download our free guide.

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