Convenience stores operate in a sort of cross over space with blurred lines between restaurant and retail. Developing a c-store customer experience (CX) capable of catering to a “market of one” comes with a unique list of challenges. Customers have different demands, some stop for just gas, some run in for beer on the way home from work, and some need a hot and ready meal in minutes. While their shopping needs are different, their reason for being there is speed – until now.
Today we still want all of those things along with an experience. We want hi-tech and hi-touch convenience – ultimately, the eCommerce feel out in the real world. It’s kind of crazy saying we want convenience to be more convenient and yet that’s where we are in our digitally driven society. Convenience retail has to address the changing demands in two industry verticals, retail and restaurant, to successfully deliver on the customer experience challenges.
Some ways that c-stores can start to provide a better customer journey are:
This is a mobile driven world. Retailers that haven’t adopted mobile technology are already behind. C-stores recognize the advantages of handheld devices and see mobility benefiting their customers and employees. Mobile point of sale is gaining traction across several retail sectors. It’s fantastic in its ability to streamline the checkout process to complete a purchase anywhere and any time.
For convenience to open up to mobility, more than just point of sale need to be considered. Delivering on the customer experience requires knowing store inventories and the systems that handle supply chain management. C-Stores can’t deliver an optimal customer experience without knowing all aspects of store operations.
A majority of convenience retailers are looking to improve their inventory and back office systems by incorporating handheld devices that feed off of platformed data. The advantage of increased time savings and control make this a huge win.
Let Customers Serve Themselves
As people, we love doing things for ourselves. Convenience retail can facilitate that by putting the power to self-serve in the customer’s hands. Self-service kiosks are popping up across restaurants and retail and allow easy customization of orders. The easy to use touch screens are a great way to right size your staffing operations to add the right mix of people and customer facing technology.
An added benefit of ordering kiosks is that order errors are reduced. Customers are personalizing orders rather than conveying what they want to another person. Happier customers and reduced staffing costs help to widen the profit margin in convenience retail.
Standing in Line Stinks
Research shows the biggest delays are in the checkout process. Convenience means quick and easy and long checkout lines kill the experience. Everyone hates waiting in line – so much so that 86% of customers have walked out of a store without making a purchase over long lines. Imagine retaining just 1% of that across all stores in the organization, knowing the customer average spend amount is about $12.00. There’s plenty of options here to speed up the checkout process. Self-pay terminals, order-ahead apps, and tap and pay technologies are all good ways to get started.
C-stores are already competitive in convenience and price. Improving the convenience store customer experience (CX) through innovation will ensure you’re ahead of the curve as the retail renaissance approaches. Taiga is here to accelerate it’s arrival.