If you see beads of sweat dripping from the foreheads of convenience retailers, appreciate the reason.
The industry stands at an unprecedented crossroad, where new stores and fresh designs are springing forth from Boston to Boise, Dallas to Daytona Beach. And at the same time, many are exiting, unable or unwilling to meet surging customer demands.
Today’s convenience store is about much more than sodas and salty snacks. Ambience, indoor seating, free WiFi, frictionless transactions and fresh food offerings are current or emerging expectations.
And for good reason. With retail channels overlapping and the digital marketplace expanding into immediate consumables, convenience operators are finding new ways to redefine convenience, testing third-party home deliveries, partnering with Amazon Lockers, expanding into a true three daypart meal offering and embracing mobile loyalty.
Beyond the historical keys of c-stores, today’s customers require more personalized and engaging experiences—particularly around foodservice. Fast-casual restaurants have raised the bar, and leading convenience retailers are fighting back by offering enhanced quality and freshness, along with greater made-to-order variety.
Adding to the customer experience is greater attention to hospitality – décor, fixtures, seating, along with amenities such as TVs and WiFi access. In fact, two-thirds of consumers consider restaurants a form of entertainment, according to research from DIRECTV, so it stands to reason that c-stores are working hard to keep up.
Amenities such as TVs and WiFi are especially important to younger consumers. More than a quarter of millennials —26%—said they expect TVs in convenience stores, and 21% said they would visit convenience stores more often if TV programming was available, according to a custom survey conducted by Technomic in partnership with DIRECTV.
Further, nearly four-in-10 of shoppers said they would be more likely to consume food and/or beverages at c-stores if dine-in options were offered. That percentage increases to 47% for Gen Z consumers and 51% for millennials.
Younger consumers are attracted to convenience stores that offer the following, according to a Technomic & Chute Gerdeman Food-Forward C-Store Design report:
- Welcoming, comfortable design (important to 67% of consumers overall, and 75% of millennials)
- Family-friendly atmosphere (64% overall; 73% of millennials; 69% of Gen Z)
- Appealing décor (59% overall; 69% of millennials)
- Up-to-date technology (57% overall; 68% of millennials; 62% of Gen Z)
Design elements like these drive a perception of quality and freshness, both of foodservice specifically and the store in general. Even for operations anchored in “grab-and-go” retail, the opportunities still exist to create a welcoming environment that lets customers stay awhile.
If you are interested in enhancing the in-store experience for your customers, DIRECTV for BUSINESS National Accounts is happy to help. Click here to email us!.