During the lockdown in March of 2020, we learned that there are too many variables to accurately predict the impact that Covid was having at the local store level. The most successful convenience store chains used analytics to quickly identify changes in customer behavior, and then carefully measure the results of their adjustments. The timeliness of their information was critical because reports that were months or weeks old would not have allowed them to keep up with the rapidly evolving situation.
Taiga’s Front Office Platform is an affordable Business Intelligence software that was designed for small and mid-sized convenience store chains. It uses real-time integration and advanced artificial intelligence to identify the “exceptions” in your customers’ behavior immediately and prompt you with actionable alerts so that you can adapt in real-time. Taiga’s integration is so robust that when a transaction occurs at a convenience store, the analytics are visible within our system in two minutes.
Here are four examples of how our convenience stores clients utilize real-time analytics to manage by exception to adapt before their competition:
1. Stay Effective while Operating Remotely
Covid has made remote operations a challenge for almost every business. Taiga Front Office Platform users have access to real-time sales dashboards, category management tools, issue detection analysis, competitive fuel prices and wetstock inventory from anywhere on any device. Real-time visibility at every store enables them to be 100% effective from anywhere – even when stores that are hundreds of miles apart!
2. Understand Changes in Customer Traffic
Tagia’s Front Office Platform is constantly watching your traffic patterns on the forecourt and in-store while looking for changes. A client recently shared with us a story about how their city temporarily required all bars and restaurants to close early. They used our Front Office Platform to understand how their customer traffic patterns had changed and then made adjustments to their staffing to optimize their customers’ experience. Our Front Office Platform provides many other insights from customer traffic data including real-time alerts when a line is forming at the register.
3. Monitor Sell Through Rates and Avoid Stockouts
Taiga’s artificial intelligence tracks the sell through rate of every product at a store looking for real-time “exceptions”. For example, the system can detect when a high-volume product has stopped selling and alert the store manager to check for an empty shelf or an obstruction. Our Front Office Platform can also detect and alert staff members when a product is selling faster than usual and will need to be replenished early. Covid driven changes in customer demand continue to catch convenience store operators by surprise. Early detection can make the difference between profit and loss.
4. Watch Your Top 50 Products in Real-time
Taiga’s Front Office Platform provides a straightforward report that allows our clients to view their top 50 products by revenue, margin or sales volume in real-time. The report identifies how each product is moving up or down the list. Each product on the list is also linked to deeper analysis like market basket, brand, category, and product set information. While many store managers know their top 5 products, it’s game-changing for them to see their top 50 in real-time.
One additional item that I would like to mention. Over the last two weeks, I’ve seen several articles about the increased risk of Covid spreading at supermarkets. I believe that these articles will accelerate a customer trend that we identified back in April. Simply stated, a large number of supermarket customers have started shopping at convenience stores because they perceive them as a safer and more convenient alternative to the long lines and crowded aisles of the supermarket.
The temporary circumstances of Covid are driving these new shoppers to convenience stores so it is imperative to convert them into loyal customers. This is a key opportunity for convenience store chains to use analytics to attract and maintain this consumer. Stay on top of your sanitary practices, keep your stores well-lit and ensure that you have hand sanitizer at the counter. Most importantly, identify the products that these new customers are looking for and make sure that you have them on your shelves. Our analysis tells us that this group represents 25% of your customers and their average basket is about $25. In-store sales have performed well during the pandemic and this is one of the key reasons why.
Now that we’re into the holiday season, I hope it will continue to be busy and prosperous four our industry. We expect the strong in-store sales trend to continue through the end of the year. If you can find 20 minutes to spare, I would be happy to give you a guided tour of our Front Office Platform. Please reach out to us here if you are interested