As foodservice continues to climb in importance at convenience stores, retailers are taking advantage of technology to allow customers more options when they order.
At GetGo Café + Market, headquartered in Pittsburgh, customers can place foodservice orders via the company’s website or the GetGo app on iOS and Android up to 24 hours in advance, according to Chris Edwards, director of GetGo technology.
The chain’s entire expansive, fresh, made-to-order menu is available, as well as full customization options to add or remove ingredients or modify how the dish is prepared, he explained.
“A theme you’ll see carried throughout all aspects of GetGo’s business is the ability to customize,” added Brandon Daniels, the company’s manager of public relations. “Whether it’s adding their favorite ingredients to a fresh-made sub or choosing to place an order on the GetGo app, we put technologies in place to allow guests to customize their experience.”
Putting the technology for advance ordering in place has been a “top priority” for GetGo, Daniels said. Each store with a made-to-order kitchen, about half of GetGo’s more than 260 locations throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana, offers the service.
Made-to-order kitchens are a staple of the GetGo Café + Market brand, and they will be included in the numerous new stores the chain plans to add, including one in Mentor, Ohio, which opened in February, and one in Mars, Pa., in May. Since the kitchens are already set up for made-to-order food, there were no additions or changes necessary to accommodate orders placed ahead of time, he noted.
The option to place orders in advance is “heavily included in our marketing efforts,” Daniels stated. Additionally, the company’s website and app both prominently display an “order now” button on their home screens.
If customers want to enjoy GetGo made-to-order menu items without leaving their homes or offices, the company has partnered with third-party delivery services.
In February, Quality Mart introduced online ordering and delivery in five of its Winston-Salem, N.C., stores out of a total of 60-plus stores located in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. Delivery is available within a 20-mile radius.
The online ordering segment is powered by local startup SWIPEBY’s platform. Quality Mart is using signage, a QR code and video at the fuel pumps to demonstrate to customers that it’s easy to place an order for pickup or delivery.
“This is an added level of convenience that we think will help us stand out from the competition and make our customers even more satisfied,” noted Sam Metzler, a senior vice president with Quality Oil Co., the parent company of Quality Mart convenience stores, in a statement.
Delivery Entices Customers
EG America, the Blackburn, U.K.-based parent company of numerous U.S. convenience store chains, including Cumberland Farms, Certified Oil, Fastrac, Kwik Shop, Loaf N’ Jug, Minit Mart, Quik Stop, Sprint, Turkey Hill and Tom Thumb, partners with DoorDash for delivery of a wide variety of foodservice items. Customers can order anything from sandwiches to snacks and pizza to coffee through DoorDash’s app and website.
Ninety percent of Cumberland Farms’ 58 locations in New England, New York and Florida work with DoorDash to offer delivery, said Stephen Skidds, Cumberland Farms’ director of food service. The company plans to add the delivery option “accordingly” as it opens new stores and as DoorDash expands its store coverage.
Cumberland Farms launched the pilot program with DoorDash in the fall of 2021. The service was rolled out chainwide in the summer of 2022.
“It has helped produce incremental sales in food and beverage and has created convenience for our guests to be able to place their order from home and have it delivered,” Skidds remarked.
The delivery service, he said, was introduced to allow Cumberland Farms to “adjust to the buying habits of guests since the pandemic and give our guests more convenient options to purchase.” Offering the service has had “very little operational impact” on the stores, he pointed out.
To inform customers about the delivery option and encourage trial, Cumberland Farms uses in-app promotions, in-store signage and other digital channels.
Another convenience option some chains are introducing is a subscription program. Circle K, for instance, offers a Sip and Save subscription which entitles enrolled customers to one drink every day for 30 days for $9.99 (less than 35 cents per day).
The program includes any size hot and iced coffee, cappuccinos, Polar Pop, hot and iced tea and aguas frescas. Refills up to 64 ounces are also included. Customers can enroll online or in the store.