Now that the 2023 NACS show has concluded and we have all returned home, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect a bit on the show and themes our team saw while we were there. The NACS Show was a great place to learn and connect, as usual. It was also great to see so many of the Taiga team in person. While we were in Atlanta, my team and I had the opportunity to attend education sessions, connect with friends and clients, and walk the show floor to see the future of convenience retail. As we went through the week, we saw three pivotal themes that are reshaping the convenience store landscape: Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence and Customer Experience.
Digital Transformation: Powering Smart Retail
Digital Transformation is no longer a choice for convenience retail but a necessity, dominating discussions at the 2023 NACS Show. Consumer expectations are evolving almost as fast as technology and convenience retailers must keep up. Digital Transformation was defined in one of the education sessions with Alix Partners, Yesway, and Pilot as “the change and acceleration a company undergoes through the integration of digitally enabled innovations at scale”. This digital transformation is occurring as many convenience stores are fast-tracking their adoption of digital technologies; from self-checkout, to dynamic pricing, to personalized customer journeys to chatbots and voice recognition. A consumer study reiterated that digital innovations can impact each of the value drivers for consumers. In the study, Alix Partners found that consumers value innovations tied to payments and mobility (i.e., self-checkout, contactless payments, and mobile app/loyalty). However, listening to consumers feedback on technology investment is essential to ensure adoption of these new technologies. Consumers stated they are more likely to adopt technologies that are somewhat familiar AND that make their in-store experience better.
Artificial Intelligence: Revolutionizing Operations
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a subset of digital transformation and was, in itself, a theme of the show. AI is becoming more prevalent in C-stores, from predictive analytics helping optimize inventory to AI-driven customer service chatbots. Some examples of how AI can help convenience retailers are with predictive analytics on loss mitigation, labor forecasting/staffing optimization, sales forecasting, and inventory optimization. One example given for AI was having AI track sales against predictive analytics to identify when an item was going to go out of stock and send an alert, just like Taiga’s Front Office Platform does with our Issue Detection module. The most important application of AI was in customer experience. Customer expectations for service and a personalized experience continue to grow. AI can help meet ever changing customer needs as it can provide you with real-time, relevant information on your customers and their habits so you can provide them with an optimized experience.
Customer Experience: Beyond Transactions
Customer Experience was probably one of the most important themes of the show. As I reiterated in several previous articles, customer behavior changed during the pandemic, with people looking to convenience stores to replace their grocery runs. The era of c-stores just being a quick stop for snacks is over. Convenience stores are transforming into community hubs, focusing on personalized experiences. As convenience stores are looking to enhance customer experiences, Taiga’s commitment to this theme is evident in our technology roadmap and will be available soon to our customers. We are using our aggregated data to decipher purchasing patterns, preferences, and demographic data in order to provide a detailed segmentation of customers for c-stores. This data will help convenience retailers tailor promotions to individual customers, fostering a sense of belonging and turning one-time shoppers into loyal patrons.
Now What? How To Take Action
So as a retailer, how do you take advantage of the NACS 2023 trends? As you look to implement digital transformation and AI to provide a better customer experience, make sure your systems are set up so you can see the data and results from these investments. You wouldn’t put money in the bank without expecting to see a return on it, right? The same goes for investments in technology – don’t put in self-checkout, promotions, or a loyalty program without ensuring you have systems in place to track performance and make sure you get a return on your dollars spent.
That’s where Taiga can help – our Front Office Platform can work with the other systems in your stores to aggregate and categorize your data, allowing you to see results easily and quickly. Say you install self-checkout – Taiga’s system can display the adoption rate, compare sales between self-checkout and cashier, and provide details on items purchased through self-checkout. The ROI will be right there for you to see, and if something needs to improve you can identify where to focus your efforts. Don’t worry about the Taiga platform being out of date for changes in technology. Our platform is versionless, so it is continuously upgraded for customer needs. This means that if you want to see a new dashboard view or adapt your platform for a new technology, we can make it happen without adding costs.
2023 NACS Show Recap
The 2023 NACS Show was a great experience for the Taiga team, and it helped us understand the priorities for the industry: Go digital, leverage the power of AI, and prioritize customer experiences. The good news is that Taiga’s Front Office Platform isn’t just keeping pace with what convenience retailers need; it’s leading the charge, enabling retailers to thrive in this transformative journey.