Archive for the “Opinions” Category

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. […]

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?”

How C-Stores Can Capitalize on the CBD Trend

Convenience stores can’t take advantage of every trend that comes along, but when one promises to be a $2 billion opportunity by 2022 and could easily be stocked in c-stores, it’s time to pay attention.

CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, has been garnering considerable attention and consumer spend over the past few years. Increasingly popping up in things like oils, gummies, and vapes, CBD could also represent a significant opportunity for convenience stores.

Is It Legal for Convenience Stores to Sell CBD?

Passage of the 2018 Farm Bill legalized products made from hemp as long as it contains less than .3% THC. The status of CBD, however, is a little murkier.

Some states have outright banned CBD, some allow it, and others consider it to be in legal limbo. But that’s not stopping major chains from jumping on the bandwagon, as both CVS and Walgreens have announced that they’ll be selling products containing CBD in stores across at least eight states.

The legality of selling CBD at a convenience store depends on the location’s state laws, but with CBD products rising in popularity, it’s likely that many of those laws will be changing over the next several years. It would benefit convenience stores to be ready.

Who Would Buy CBD from a Convenience Store?

Not surprisingly, CBD is largely being purchased by the trendsetting millennial generation, which extols its relaxation, sleep, and overall wellness benefits. […]

The Keys to High ROI for Grab-and-Go Food and Beverages

For some people, the news that both Target and Whole Foods are moving into the grab-and-go segment might feel like a threat. But for savvy c-store owners, it’s something else entirely: an opportunity.

When big players like Target and Whole Foods make a move, it behooves everyone in the food-sales industry to take notice. After all, they wouldn’t be doing so unless it’s likely to be highly profitable. And that certainly looks to be the case, as there’s been a 15% increase in prepared meals and snacks since 2010 and 25% of millennials eat in their cars on a daily basis.

Fortunately, convenience stores are perfectly positioned to take advantage of this opportunity. Nearly half of their customers are already purchasing food or beverage items.

And because c-store customers tend to make multiple visits per month, grab-and-go food is a prime way to increase their spend each time and encourage even more visits.

Convenience stores also have ample opportunity to promote their grab-and-go food options. Simple signage in the store can motivate customers to add food to their purchases, and signage in the forecourt may entice fuel-only customers to pick up a meal or snack. Video ads at the pump can serve the same purpose.

Although getting customers interested in grab-and-go options seems simple enough, getting them to actually make purchases is another matter. A long checkout line will send 74% of shoppers to a competitor, while 41% of them will change their minds about a purchase if the line is too long.

A grab-and-go program needs to deliver both a high ROI and an increase in visits. For maximum effectiveness, special attention should be paid to the “Four P’s” – product, price, place, and promotion.

Each of these four elements plays a crucial role in the success of a grab-and-go program. To highlight their importance, we’ve created an on-demand video containing details and ideas on how to implement your own program.

This free, streaming webinar, “Grab-and-Go: How to Maximize Your Foodservice Options” will take you through the key recommendations we give our c-store clients, as well as help you create an effective grab-and-go segment plan.

Click here to watch this free, on-demand video and learn how adding or improving your own grab-and-go program can boost your bottom line and help you compete with even the biggest industry players.