Kim Otocki
Kim Otocki
Kimberly Otocki is a content marketing specialist at Paytronix working in the convenience store space. With a passion for telling stories, she helps bolster the Paytronix brand through content creation and data analysis. Kimberly loves sharing relevant content to help businesses discover the marketing solutions they need.

Insights on Creating A Frictionless Shopping Experience

What if most stores – and even Amazon – are getting frictionless shopping wrong? What would it mean for brands that are trying to do things differently?

Kim Otocki, a member of the Paytronix marketing team, recently had the opportunity to sit down with Gus Olympidis, the president and CEO of Family Express. His c-store brand has firmly established itself as a leader in the frictionless experience, and Olympidis had a lot of wisdom to offer other c-store owners who are trying to follow suit.

“We’re beginning to see a movement away from demographics, toward psychographics,” said Olympidis, pointing out that the cookie-cutter approach of segmenting by generations doesn’t work nearly as well as it used to. A group like the millennials, he points out, is far too large and diverse to use as a guide for consumer wants, needs, and behaviors.

The key to serving consumers best, says Olympidis, is doing everything a c-store can to understand them, independent of their demographic. In order to accomplish this, c-stores need the kind of data insights that will let them treat their customers as individuals instead of members of a broad group.

Some of these insights can be provided by digital loyalty programs and digital customer relationship management. But according to Olympidis, one of the biggest mistakes brands are making right now is assuming that technology equates to a frictionless customer experience.

In fact, he believes that “bad technology creates friction.” Anything that makes it more difficult for consumers to get what they want increases friction, and that can absolutely include technology. […]

Why Online Ordering Is Now Essential for C-Stores

It’s not news to any c-store owner that competition for customers and spend is higher than ever. In addition to the many direct competitors in the industry, convenience stores have to contend with fast-food restaurants, big-box retailers like Walmart and Target, and even online giants like Amazon.

The c-stores that continue to thrive despite these challengers will be the ones that best adapt their businesses to meet new consumer trends, wants, and needs.  

In addition to offering reward programs, one of the biggest requests by customers is online ordering and delivery. In the past, c-stores might have thought implementing an online ordering system wouldn’t apply to their business – but times have changed and this is only the beginning.

Here are a few eye-opening statistics that should catch any c-store owner’s attention:

  • 60% of U.S. consumers order delivery or takeout once per week.
  • 34% of consumers spend at least $50 per online food order.
  • 20% of consumers say they spend more on off-premises orders than on dine-in/on-premises purchases.  
  • The increase in digital ordering and delivery has been 300% greater than that of dine-in traffic since 2014.
  • 52% of millennials indicate that they would purchase more often from c-stores if delivery were offered.

It couldn’t be clearer that in order to effectively compete for the consumer dollar, convenience stores need to incorporate online ordering (and if at all possible, delivery) into their strategies.

But how does a c-store implement a proper plan? Which elements are essential and which ones can be skipped? What kind of customer data needs to be captured, and how should that data be used? Most importantly, how do convenience stores choose the right online ordering platform?

We’ve put together a free, on-demand webinar to answer all of these questions and many others.

Titled “Why C-Stores Need Online Ordering,” the session will provide even more statistics and facts to prove just how critical online ordering is to the success of convenience stores. It will also give you an action plan to begin mapping out an online ordering system for your c-store.

Click here to watch this free, half-hour webinar now.

The Future of Gen Z and Convenience Stores

Convenience stores have been an American staple for close to 100 years, serving an important function for the average consumer. But with technology changing so rapidly and major retailers like Amazon making moves that threaten the market, will c-stores continue to be relevant to the next generation?

It’s necessary to answer this question because Gen Z (the next generation with purchasing power) constitutes nearly 27% of the entire U.S. population and is on track to be the largest generation of consumers. However, its shopping habits are substantially different from other groups. If convenience stores can’t capture the interest of this generation now, they’ll struggle to stay relevant … and stay in business.

Here are six trends that conveniences stores need to be aware of – and capitalize on – to create loyal shoppers among Gen Z.

  1. They are technology natives. Gen Z is the first true digital generation, and its members are accustomed to being able to use mobile phones, apps, and the Internet to do anything they need to do. That means, of course, that a c-store must incorporate technology into its interactions with customers, whether it be apps, mobile ordering, paying via mobile, or some combination of them.
  2. They expect diversity in their food. We already know that this is a “foodie” generation – perhaps even more so than others. But Gen Z has wider access to a variety of cuisines from cultures around the world, which makes it incumbent upon convenience stores to offer many different types and flavors of foods.
  3. They expect a mobile presence. Beyond a fondness for technology in general, the members of Gen Z are especially attached to their mobile devices. They expect the businesses they frequent to cater to them in the form of a mobile-optimized site, an app, a mobile loyalty program, and/or SMS messaging.
  4. They use online reviews to guide choices. More than any other generation, Gen Z makes buying choices based on online reviews. Studies have shown than a one-star increase for a business on Yelp leads to a 5-9% increase in revenue. C-stores need to constantly monitor their online reviews, as well as encourage happy customers to write them.
  5. They have an expectation of immediacy. Members of this digital generation are accustomed to being able to access what they want when they want it. Convenience stores, therefore, need to implement ways for Gen Z customers to get items as quickly as possible, including offering NFC Loyalty and mobile payment.
  6. They regularly order online. There has never been a time when Gen Z couldn’t place orders for things online. Just a few years ago, two-day shipping was a revelation, and now people can have a reasonable expectation of getting a delivery in less than an hour. A c-store that wants to stay competitive in the marketplace needs to offer store delivery, curbside pickup, or both.

Digital guest engagement programs are the key to making Gen Z (and all generations) feel as valued as possible. They enable c-stores to gather data and use it to deliver promotions, discounts, and messaging that is relevant on an individual level. These programs can include and/or integrate with an app, mobile payment, delivery options, and any number of other digital touchpoints.

Because the promotions are personally meaningful, customers partake in them and visit the c-store location more frequently. And encouraging those habits when Gen Z is young helps create loyalty for life.

Engaging Gen Z customers requires a comprehensive plan. To learn more about attracting this generation to your stores, check out our on-demand webinar, “Does Gen Z Have a Need for Convenience Stores?”

Should Convenience Stores Deliver? The Lowdown

Delivery has become a hot trend throughout most consumer industries. Amazon Prime Now is delivering more food and other essentials to customers across the country, Starbucks is flirting with delivery, McDonald’s is partnering with Uber Eats, and even 7-Eleven has begun beer delivery in some states.

Given these developments, should convenience stores begin offering delivery? And if so, how should they do it?

It’s no secret that consumer demand is driving the push for delivery. In fact, 52% of millennials would buy from c-stores more frequently if delivery options were offered. And as the generations preceding millennials continue to age, they’ll rely more on delivery as well.

The increased competition comes from both inside the industry – with mega-chain 7-Eleven exploring its options – and outside the industry – with behemoth Amazon moving into the traditional c-store space. Convenience stores may be facing an “adapt or die” proposition, and there are a number of issues that should be addressed before delivery is offered.

First, c-stores need to decide whether to build their own delivery infrastructure or rely on third-party delivery companies like Uber Eats and GrubHub. […]