As long as convenience stores are selling convenience, delivery will be an important — and for the foreseeable future, growing — part of the equation.
The ante was raised during the COVID-19 pandemic when stores added delivery to reach customers despite social distancing measures. In the wake of the pandemic with c-store, supermarket, restaurant and big-box stores all increasingly embracing delivery in addition to drive-through and mobile ordering, c-stores that opt not to include delivery risk being left behind.
Even before the pandemic, drive-through and delivery were making solid inroads into the c-store business. Like autonomous checkout, delivery is another means of providing convenience for time-strapped consumers. And when it comes to providing virtually any service to Americans, the reality is that there is never any going back. Consumers quickly move from asking “Who is offering delivery?’ to “Why aren’t you offering delivery?”
Partnering with delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub can expand a store’s delivery footprint. Another benefit to a delivery program is that it can help to build brand awareness, spur trial of new product lines and solidify a store’s connection to its customers.
Another factor to consider is that due to the soaring price of gas, consumers simply aren’t driving as much — a major hit for stores who rely heavily on selling to drivers who pull in for a fill-up.
Software packages that support order-ahead and delivery programs are giving operators a better handle on the way their products are seen, described and priced no matter the delivery service with which they are working. Some c-stores are making more than 3,000 items available for delivery. Such programs also render the in-store inventory process simpler and more accurate, reducing out-of-stocks and customer disappointment.
Last but not least, delivery can also prove to be a revenue source. Earlier this year, 7-Eleven upgraded its 7NOW app to include a subscription service for delivery. The Irving, Texas-based chain’s 7NOW Gold Pass lets users pay a monthly fee and order as many times they want with no delivery fee.
The subscription delivery service “brings convenience to a whole new level, giving our customers the ability to order what they want, when they want it — and now as often as they want without an added delivery fee,” Raghu Mahadevan, 7‑Eleven senior vice president and chief digital officer, said in announcing the program.