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Covid-19 and the Future of Convenience Fuel Retail

As c-stores continue to weather the effects of the pandemic, many are realizing that enhanced POS systems and elevated in-store technology will be a vital tool to help them progress, according to the latest survey by Censuswide, on behalf of Zynstra, an NCR Company. Senior level U.S IT managers from large c-stores have indicated they will be focusing on several technological initiatives moving forward.

Legacy Infrastructure Holding C-stores Back

The survey revealed that 63% of respondents identified that legacy infrastructure held them back from making changes during the pandemic, responding that an inflexible infrastructure delayed the speed at which they would have liked to adapt their store operations.

Many c-stores are burdened by one common issue: they are keen to innovate but have legacy hardware built for a different age – not designed for the needs of today’s customers, and yet too expensive to replace.

Times have changed, however: it’s no longer a requirement to ‘rip and replace’ all of your existing IT infrastructure, or undergo costly hardware refreshes. The smart way is to decouple the hardware from the software through virtualization at the edge – in the store – enabling you to run the latest software on existing hardware. Pilot Flying J, the largest operator of travel centers in North America, has already taken steps to install such a solution across their 750 stores.

Technology Priorities for COVID-19

Putting legacy hardware aside, the survey also discovered which technology priorities took center stage to ensure a frictionless c-store selling experience:

  • Home delivery (86%)
  • Order online pick up curbside (85%)
  • Self-checkout (81%)
  • Full-service fueling by store associate (81%)
  • Mobile POS tablets for checkout by store associate (80%)
  • Scan & Go (80%)
  • Touchless checkout (77%)

See the full report in detail:

POS Limitations

C-stores recognize that change begins with their POS infrastructure, but only 10% of respondents say they have the exact POS infrastructure that will serve the business now and, in the future. Furthermore, of the 90% of respondents that recognized they would need to invest in their POS infrastructure, over half want to invest in change now, while 29% seek a solution that will keep their legacy POS running with minimal cost while they take time to see how checkout needs evolve.

The right infrastructure can be transformational, providing a platform for increased ROI, innovation and engagement. But the wrong infrastructure can be a barrier to achieving business strategy, while being very expensive and inefficient. As the store continues to become a key customer experience differentiator, forward-looking c-store retailers are moving to an infrastructure that provides the flexible, cost effective platform for innovation they require. And they’re looking to do it in a way that optimizes past IT investment rather than an expensive replacement—and frees them from vendor dictated end of support costs.

‘New’ COVID-19 C-store Insight Report

The impact of COVID-19 will mean c-stores need to find a way to evolve their cost structure as implementing store technology changes to meet the demands of new customer buying habits is not an easy task when underlying costs continue to rise.

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