It is wise for convenience operators to examine the reasons for such a sharp growth trajectory in their marketplace. Development of new store formats, new delivery options and a shift towards suburban living have all had an impact. Ever-increasing desire for on-demand convenience, and the race to hyper-convenience have also attracted spend.
Each of these factors represents an ongoing opportunity to improve sales, margins and the customer experiences. We say ongoing, because in retail change is certain, meaning investment requirements and opportunities constantly present themselves. The market will only grow if convenience retailers keep innovating the customer experience. They must be willing to invest to stay close to, and better serve, the customer.
Here are six must-have capabilities for the convenience store of the future.
1. A unified commerce platform
Cross-channel shopping and customer desire for self-service mean convenience retailers can no longer rely on aging, siloed POS technology. A unified commerce platform can bridge every customer endpoint, delivering a consistent experience of price, promotions and rewards for consumers, and a single view of the sale and the buyer for operators. Platforms are the foundation for new capabilities including cashier-less ‘Walk In, Walk Out’ experiences, smart lockers, order kiosks and voice ordering. A platform approach is imperative for convenience operations in the mid and long-term. As we move towards electric and autonomous vehicles, platforms will underpin connected ecosystems where AI and the IoT take on the burden of ordering essentials. Commerce platforms can also connect disparate retail verticals, allowing operators to seamlessly integrate and manage hospitality, fuel and grocery sales in one place.
2. Smart data insights
Big Data and AI create unparalleled opportunities for growth – but only if retailers can sort and make sense of enormous amounts of information. Leading business intelligence tools like Flooid Insights, allow retailers to spot trends by presenting data on intuitive single view dashboards. For example, historic product sales information can be cross-compared with third-party data including weather reports, leading to more precise inventory ordering based on external conditions. This results in a leaner, more sustainable and more profitable retail operation.
3. Enabling an integrated customer experience
Almost every shopper uses multiple channels to browse and buy. The challenge for retailers is to deliver personalization and convenience across all channels while lowering their total cost of technology ownership. This is only possible by connecting each element of the customer experience, by taking and sharing data across every customer touchpoint. Hyper-convenience is dependent on the ability to follow customer actions, not channels. And that means adopting a holistic, platform-based approach.
4. Optimized and agile supply chain
Retail supply chains are a hot topic due to a wide range of geopolitical issues. With the future uncertain, and convenience retailers largely dependent on perishable goods, every operator should be looking to build agility into its supply chain operation. Seeing an accurate view of all sales across all channels, and the fulfilment of both in-store and online orders gives retailers the best forecasting ability possible to place orders earlier and restock shelves sooner. A consolidated view of data across the estate and a historical reference of past trends and current real time activity enables retailers to construct a ‘crystal ball’ to better manage supply to meet demand.
5. Empowered workforce
The war for retail talent will only intensify. Retail employees with endless options over where to work will no longer tolerate clunky technology experiences or eight-hour shifts filled with low-value tasks. To ensure job satisfaction, convenience retailers need to give their people the tools they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability. That means investment in equipping shop staff with real-time information, and resilient mobile devices that give them the information and freedom they need to deliver truly personalized service to the customer.
6. Enhanced sustainability and social responsibility
Grocery and convenience retailers have a moral responsibility to deliver more value for communities and to do less harm to the planet. One swift and impactful way to enable this is to use advanced insights to become more astute on inventory ordering – thereby cutting wastage. Sustainability also offers another huge opportunity to convenience retailers with a fuel forecourt. Electric vehicle charging takes longer than a petrol fill-up, meaning retailers have an enormous chance to turn additional dwell time into additional spend.
How Flooid can help
Flooid’s unified commerce platform helps leading convenience and grocery retailers to modernize and optimize their retail operations. Our cloud-based platform connects every customer touchpoint across web, mobile and store, delivering unrivalled experiences for consumers and rich, actionable, real-time insights for retailers. Trusted by brands including Waitrose, One Stop and Woolworths South Africa, Flooid’s unified commerce platform unlocks growth, lowers TCO and improves customer experience for leading convenience grocery retailers worldwide.