As the national economy continues to rebound from the COVID-19 crisis, Americans are hitting the road in droves: more than 47 million will travel this July 4 weekend, according to AAA. After more than a year of cancelling plans because of the virus, consumers are ready to celebrate this summer, meaning anticipated travel this coming weekend is up 40% year over year – the second-highest rate of Independence Day travel on record.
And while some are jumping back on planes, the vast majority are jumping behind the wheel instead. Americans – 91% – are loading up the proverbial station wagon, blasting the radio, and getting out of dodge the old-fashioned way. That’s the most car travel AAA has ever recorded for the July 4 holiday.
Now, it wouldn’t be a road trip without a stop for gas, so convenience stores should prep for heavy traffic, both at the pump and in the store, which raises the question: what are these travelers buying? […]
Like most of America, the restaurant and c-store industries will be happy to bid 2020 goodbye and hope for a fresh start in 2021. As we at Paytronix look toward the future, we see a brightening on the horizon, one that may even end in a large party.
But getting there is going to mean change, not only in how the industry thinks about guest engagement, but also in how restaurants themselves are constructed. We predict that as restaurant and c-store brands move beyond the pandemic, they will need to make significant investments in the technology infrastructure that enables them to focus on truly owning the guest. […]
This year, society embraced e-commerce like never before. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to stay home and made everyone hyper-aware of their susceptibility to germs and viruses, consumers turned to digital platforms not for convenience, but for comfort and safety.
E-commerce options like contactless payments, online ordering and delivery and subscription programs saw an explosion of new adoption by consumers—and by brands trying to appeal to those consumers—because it was the safest option available. Moving forward, consumers will continue to use these digital channels, but they’ll have resumed looking for the ease of use and convenience that they demanded before the pandemic.
There are three trends expected to make waves in the convenience store industry in 2021:
1) Convenience store shoppers who temporarily prioritized safety over convenience will expect both. After a years-long focus on creating frictionless environments for customers, c-stores switched gears in 2020 and began focusing on touchless experiences instead. The shift was evident both in new offerings, like online ordering and curbside pickup, and in tone. Brands emphasized the safety of these offerings over the convenience by signaling that they were “touchless” options.
Moving forward, customers will still expect that enhanced level of safety, but their patience for learning new platforms and using clunky workarounds will wane. C-stores will need to adopt technologies that both limit physical contact and minimize friction.
2) The industry will continue to experiment with drive-thrus and curbside pickup. Drive-thrus were especially lucrative for restaurants this year: the drive-thru represented 42% of all restaurant visits in the second quarter and increased a further 13% in July, when many restaurants began to reopen.
Convenience stores—especially those with made-to-order food offerings—are looking to capitalize on this trend. Over this past summer, Wawa announced plans to build a drive-thru and curbside pickup-only store in Pennsylvania. Consumer preferences for options like these are likely to continue into 2021 and beyond.
3) Recurring digital revenue streams will become a staple of the convenience industry. The accelerated shift toward e-commerce brought on by the pandemic means that consumers are developing a preference for omnichannel engagement with their favorite brands, where loyalty, payment and ordering all work together seamlessly.
That preference also applies to recurring payments in the form of subscriptions. Customers are already accustomed to paying this way for everything from groceries to pet supplies, and now subscriptions are straddling the digital and physical realms, with programs like Cumberland Farms’ coffee subscription and RaceTrac’s fuel discount program.
The convenience industry is about to see a boom in recurring digital revenues like these, thanks to new solutions coming on the market. These will make it faster and easier to prop up a subscription program that runs alongside existing loyalty programs, and will also provide novel ways for convenience retailers to differentiate their brands.
To learn more about contactless solutions, online ordering and subscriptions, visit www.paytronix.com.
Today’s successful loyalty programs rely on personalization. As technology has expanded marketers’ capabilities through data collection, consumers now expect messages and rewards that match their own specific wants and needs.
Artificial intelligence enables marketers to identify patterns and idiosyncrasies among customers in a much faster, more efficient manner. A group of like-minded consumers that might have taken an entire marketing team months to identify can be spotted by a computer in a matter of minutes. Leveraged strategically, that can make a big impact in terms of incremental visits and revenue.
Here is a common example that at least one large brand used to drive astounding results: a 37% lift in visits and a 28% lift in spend from the targeted customers. […]