Last year was full of change for the convenience retail industry – including some challenges. Looking to the future, how will last year’s changes affect the industry? How can convenience retailers anticipate, adapt, and grow in a more consolidated, more competitive environment and not be limited by high gas prices?
Consolidations are the Trend
The largest convenience retailers are getting even bigger. Couche-Tard Inc. and 7-Eleven Inc. have added more than 1,800 stores. The consolidation isn’t limited to national chains. Mid-tier organizations are also merging as seen by the Kroger Company selling off it’s 784 c-stores to EG Group as EG-America and Giant Eagle taking control of Ricker Oil’s 56 stores.
The typical convenience retailer now has more stores under their brand. There are 5 percent fewer independent companies in the market than there were in 2017. It’s evident that this trend will continue – with consolidation of c-store networks being standard.
The influx of consolidations points to an upcoming flood of disparate integrations and a need for convenience retailers to attain a comprehensive view of their entire business.
More and more convenience retailers will need to unify their data points with their operational data, point of sale, and customer loyalty programs across multiple brands under one corporate structure, they will need the right technology platform that allows them to scale, making that a successful reality.
Loyalty & Deeper Analysis of Customers Data
Loyalty programs are crucial to capturing and acting on customer data. Arguably, it’s the second most important piece of convenience retail – second only to the reason for their existence, convenience.
The more c-stores know about buying habits, preferences, pairings, and actions the more able they can market to customers and keep them coming back. Convenience retail loyalty programs need to link personal information about the customer with the POS data to build a history of tendencies, create insights, optimize, predict, and allow for personalized marketing. The key here is that anything less than real-time is too late.
The statistics are staggering when it comes to loyalty. 73% of customers shop more often at stores where they have a loyalty membership and typically spend more than $10 per visit.
Right Customers, Right Products, Right Away
All this data involves analyzing purchase tendencies like who, what, when, where, and why. Understanding external factors that may have influenced a sale can provide much deeper insights into purchase patterns.
One, if not the biggest, goal for convenience retailers is to get customers from the pumps and forecourt into the store. 70% of people simply stop for gas and leave!
Convenience retail needs to find unique ways to drive customers into the store and towards items that are most profitable. To do this, they must take a closer look at their marketing initiatives, lean on their transactional data and loyalty, and display personalized and relevant advertising content in real-time to customers during the finite amount of time they are in front of the gas pump.
Looking to the Future
The future will be enlightening for convenience retail. More and more convenience retailers will see the impact of loyalty strategies driven by open channel platforming of data integration. These strategies will have a staggering effect on store visits and shopping tendencies.
C-stores will continue to consolidate, forming networks will need technology platforms that can connect disparate data across dissimilar platforms. This data is extremely valuable and drives insights for business intelligence, marketing, and AI modeling. Operating with local insights to drive greater efficiencies will drastically improve revenue across the organization.