The idea of a convenience store is for it to be a destination for fast and convenient shopping. Over the years, the concept remains the same, but the methods of making it happen are changing rapidly. The convenience retail industry isn’t what it used to be in the nineties and even the last few decades.
It has transformed from those roadside and dusty old stores where our grannies stop by for treats occasionally when fueling their cars, to well-structured and attractive stores with the convenience offered at the best quality available.
The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) reported the industry had recorded sixteen years of consistent growth in its revenue.
Improving customer experience and offering customer-centric services are the reasons for this growth, despite the highly competitive landscape of the retail industry.
Choice and Variety
Convenience stores now offer a variety of products for their customers to choose from. Fresh foods, specialty beverages such as cold brew coffee, and a range of grab-and-go products are becoming prominent features of convenience stores.
Consumers are more concerned about their health now more than ever. Their changing buying habits reflect this. Convenience stores are responding to that by providing natural food products, organics, better-for-you foods, and fresh food products.
7Eleven’ Lab Store is a typical response to these changes. New brands such as Alltown Fresh, The Goods Mart, Foxtrot, Green Zebra, and Choice Market are disruptors in the industry, and their offerings make it difficult to distinguish them from grocery stores and restaurants. But they claim they are still convenience stores but better versions.
Speed and Personalised Experience
A characteristic feature of convenience stores is a quick and efficient service. Modern convenience stores are evolving to take that trait to the next level. Automation and effortless checkout are being explored to provide more convenience to their customers.
The convenience retail is not left behind in adapting the vast technological advances available. The world’s largest convenience store chain, 7Eleven, is testing a cashier-less store and drone delivery systems to improve customer experience in their stores.
Goods delivery and orders have already been taken to the next level with the availability of self-service, BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick In-Store), and home delivery services.
Store Design and Layout
Modern convenience stores are now designed in ways that reflect significant changes. Upscale buildings with soft lighting and attractive arrangements are standard features of current convenience stores. These stores are designed to improve customer experience by ensuring safety and cleanliness. Store spaces are well optimized to provide comfort and ease of shopping.
More changes and disruptions are bound to happen in the convenience retail industry. What these changes will be and how fast they will happen may not be quantifiable at the moment. But as long consumer behaviors keep changing, the possibilities that can be explored in the management and operations of convenience stores will continue to multiply.