As 2018 wraps up in a couple of months, noticeable trends have recently influenced the c-store channel. These changes are shaping the future of the coming years and setting the pace for innovations to come. That being said, the overwhelming amount of players in the game make it difficult to stay on top of the latest trends. To make navigating this arena a little easier, we’re providing you with a c-store roundup of how these stores are differentiating themselves.
Green Is A Go
C-stores have stressed the importance of going green this year. Many companies have made strides toward being socially conscious, something a large majority of customers now look for when choosing a shopping destination. In fact, according to a study by Euclid, 48% of Gen Xers and 52% of Millennials believe it’s important that a brand’s values align with their own when making purchase decisions.
A convenience store that has made a large splash in the eco-friendly category is The Goods Mart. The company’s founder, Rachel Krupa, has created a better-for-you convenience store that focuses on stocking socially conscious products while also giving back to the community. The Goods Mart provides fully compostable straws, products with minimal packaging, “ugly” produce that would typically be thrown away by other stores, organic kombucha slushies served in paper cups, and healthier traditional snack replacements. The Goods Mart also prohibits single-serve plastic bottles on shelves and provides a tipping option at check-out where customers can donate to a local charity.
The effort to reduce food waste by stocking “ugly” products is an initiative that our ESLs can help with in the store. With the ability to quickly change prices, our ESL solutions allow c-store retailers to implement promotions on products that will expire soon in order to reduce food waste. According to a study by the United States Department of Agriculture, American consumers waste about one pound of food a day. Findings such as these are prompting many companies to keep food waste reduction efforts a top priority.
Loyalty, Loyalty, Loyalty
Loyalty programs have become a necessary weapon in the convenience store battle against declining visits. According to the 2017 NACS State of the Industry Report, customer visits to c-stores have declined by 28% since 2014. In order to fight this decline, stores need valuable insight into the consumer mind, and loyalty programs do just that.
Yesway partnered with Paytronix Systems in June to launch a loyalty program app, and the results say it all. Through this program, customers can swipe their card or app to earn points that can be cashed in for products, exclusive offers and gas savings. These incentives have driven nearly half of the company’s loyalty members, 45.2% to be exact, into the store from the pumps. By integrating this type of application, Yesway is able to increase visits from regular shoppers while also attracting new customers who may not receive rewards from other c-stores.
It’s no secret that the competition in the c-store industry is high, which is why the in-store experience is so important. In order to stay on top of the game, you need to give your consumers some captivating reasons to choose your store, and more importantly, return to it.
Shoppers’ expectations for convenience are high and with new technology rolling out every day, the demand is only getting higher. Many stores are providing mobile apps for their customers and it’s time for those who don’t to get on board. Mobile apps increase customer loyalty and offer valuable consumer insight, two factors that successful c-stores need.
Dollar General has recently taken advantage of the benefits of going mobile. This c-store retailer has introduced a mobile checkout app called “DG Go.” It enables cutomers to scan and pay for products right from their phone. This allows for a quicker checkout experience, something that many shoppers have dreamed of, especially when it includes skipping those long lines.
The C-Store Future
According to an analysis by CSP, the c-store channel has experienced a decrease in visits by one trip per person per week, since 2014. However, by implementing some of the innovations we have seen this year, c-stores can combat this decrease. Introducing loyalty programs, mobile apps, eco-friendly initiatives, and a more interactive in-store experience will lead customers to visit c-stores more frequently for their shopping needs. This year has and continues to be a big one, filled with innovations we couldn’t have dreamed of a few years ago. As this year comes to an end, we look forward to what is to come next year.