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Convenience in 2019

Posted Jan 8th, 2019 in Industry news

Convenience in 2019 Many small retailers have felt pressure in the last few decades from the growth of large companies. Markets that were once accessible for small chains or single-stores have become dominated by large global franchises. Some worry that online companies even threaten c-stores. Amazon, for example, seems to be the name for convenience these days, with their massive line of products and fast delivery. However, there are good reasons to believe that c-stores will continue to thrive in our online-driven society. Especially if owners and managers are aware of the strengths of the c-store, and capitalize on them.
  • Fuel. No matter how convenient online shopping is, you cannot fill a gas tank on a website. The need to fuel up will continue to drive customers into c-stores. Electric vehicles are still years away from dominating the American and Canadian fleet. Even so, in order to stay well ahead of the curve, c-store owners would do well to consider installing charging stations in addition to their pumps. EVs may only make a fraction of the market, but would you rather them going somewhere else to charge and browse shelves?
  • Food. Sure, you can buy KD and Chef Boyardee from Amazon, but you cannot have hot food delivered through the mail. The c-store has always been known for having ready-to-eat snaking options, from hot dogs to Slurpees. In this new year, with more and more customers becoming health-conscious, owners and managers would do well to not only provide healthy options, but also items that cater to different dietary life-styes and food trends. Offering made-to-order items can put c-stores miles ahead of nearby competitors.
  • Tangibility. When e-readers such as the Kobo and Kindle came out, pundits predicted the end of the traditional book. However, more than a decade later, most people still read physical books because customers want to touch and browse through physical things. In the same way, c-stores will always have an advantage over online retailers. You cannot walk through the aisles at Amazon. You cannot pluck up a Hershey bar and snack on your way through online checkout. C-store owners can take advantage of this, and fashion their stores so that they are pleasant sensory experiences.
  • Loyalty. Many customers are locals who need to pop into their corner store for an item or two, and don’t want the travel and hassle of a department or grocery store. These return customers initially come for the convenience but tend to return as they start to view the store as their store. Owners can capitalize on this by taking a page from the large retailer’s handbook and offering loyalty programs.
In the end, the best way for c-stores to continue to dominate their niche is to pay attention to trends and adapt accordingly. While the need for fuel, food, tangibility, and local convenience will continue to serve the c-store, it is important for owners to be aware of changes in the market, and take advantage. Of course, one of the best ways to keep on top of all the technological changes in the market is with a powerful, web-based inventory and fuel control solution like XSite Price Book, XSite Fuel, and the XSite Dashboard to connect them all.