The Convenience Store Evolution: Designing a New Customer Experience
Between rapidly evolving technology and the social impact of a global pandemic, the oft-mentioned “future of retail” has officially arrived. Customers have fully embraced the convenience of online shopping, and 85% plan to stick with the hybrid shopping habits they adopted during COVID-19¹. By creating an environment that enhances the omnichannel shopping experience while encouraging extended visits, convenience stores can deliver an experience that captures a new kind of revenue.
Enhance Omnichannel Shopping
As the line between digital and brick-and-mortar storefronts continues to blur, convenience stores would be wise to accommodate the ever-increasing preference for an omnichannel shopping experience, which has proven to retain nearly three times more customers than unintegrated businesses². Designing or upgrading the store to enhance the integration of technology should be top of mind and discussed at the start of any project – this can include critical infrastructure that supports new and emerging applications, designated areas for quick ordering and pick-up, and branded environments and experiences.
Integrated systems are vital to creating an omnichannel environment.
62% of consumers reported that they would visit a c-store more often if drive-thru or curbside was available.
- Critical Infrastructure Supported by New and Emerging Applications:
- Updated systems can streamline daily operations and improve safety with advanced inventory control, VoIP, and automated lighting and security measures. These improvements can lead to cost-savings through inventory loss prevention and reduced energy costs.
- Integrated systems are vital to creating an omnichannel environment. POS ordering, hand-held ordering devices, frictionless checkout, and real-time inventory tracking work together to create a seamless shopping experience, with options for any type of shopper.
- Designated Areas for Quick Ordering and Pick-Up:
- 62% of consumers reported that they would visit a c-store more often if drive-thru or curbside was available³. This indicates that convenience is more important than price when it comes to buying gas and convenience goods.
- For in-store shoppers, provide POS systems for quick pick-up, touchless checkout, and self-checkout.
- Reduce counter traffic by determining a pick-up location for prepaid online orders and third-party delivery services.
- Branded Environments and Experiences:
- To create a memorable brand experience, it is important to help customers navigate space efficiently and safely. There are many branding opportunities that create distinctive experiences, and it is crucial for these branded components and touchpoints to remain in great condition. The brand should demonstrate the company’s investment in prioritizing engaging solutions for customers.
Encourage Extended Visits
Located in prime locations with inventory that ranges from grab-and-go items to made-to-order meals, convenience stores have the unique opportunity pivot away from a pitstop model while retaining all their traditional comforts. By creating environments that promote in-store dwell time, convenience stores can capture a revenue that is typically reserved for cafés, restaurants, and grocery stores by:
- Reallocating Space:
- Devote a portion of the floorplan to comfortable, welcoming seating for in-store dining or checking email on the go
- Designate a specific area for made-to-order food service and pickup
- Ease of checkout should be top of mind when rethinking store layout, considering that 57% of shoppers will leave and skip purchasing if there’s a line in the convenience store⁴
- Enhancing Amenities:
- Provide fresh grab-and-go and made-to-order food options alongside common grocery items
- 74% of EV owners want to charge their vehicles next to convenience stores⁵; improve their experience with enhanced amenities such as comfortable seating, dining, and shopping
Devote a portion of the floorplan to comfortable, welcoming seating for in-store dining or checking email on the go.
By catering to the changing ways customers shop, convenience stores will remain relevant in an industry that is becoming increasingly competitive. Speed to market is more intense and having a partner who is nimble and able to deliver one project or quickly scale up for a program rollout, is foundational to deliver quality, support business goals, and provide an exceptional customer experience. With offices coast to coast and a full suite of architecture, engineering, construction, program management, energy, and building surveying services, Core States Group is the ideal project partner for convenience stores ready to offer a new customer experience.
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