Thriving in the Future: Key Trends for C-Stores to Stay Competitive

by | Mar 21, 2024 | Foodservice Industry, Marketing & Promotions, Operations, Sales

Convenience stores have traditionally been a go-to for quick, hassle-free purchases, but as times change, customers seek a more elevated and streamlined shopping experience. To stay competitive, convenience stores must keep up with the latest trends and technologies. Let’s look at five convenience store trends to watch in 2024 and beyond.  

Increased Operational Efficiency

According to Cstore Dive, one of the key trends we expect to see in 2024 is an increase in operational efficiency.  By automating specific tasks, businesses can reduce their employees’ workload and allow them to focus on delivering exceptional customer service. Employee apps can help with training, scheduling, and task management. However, if you’re not yet prepared to automate, other ways exist to enhance your operations. 

Start by examining your current practices and identifying areas that could benefit from improvement. These could include food safety, inventory management, or marketing strategies. By making these improvements, you can optimize your business’s performance and stay ahead of the competition. 

Don’t miss our latest video, “Tips for Operating a Successful Grab & Go Program: to help you streamline your operations and boost sales. Watch now! 

Product Expansion 

Convenience stores are expanding their product lines to cater to changing consumer preferences. As per Cstore Dive, “Having spent more than three years playing it safe with their spending and with COVID-19 precautions, consumers are feeling adventurous. Retailers are tapping into this desire with menu items that feature bold flavors and eye-catching names.”  

Tips for catering to adventurous consumers include experimenting with new items, offering limited-time specials, and investing in packaging and branding. 

Convenience stores will also offer a broader range of products, such as fresh produce, dairy, meat, and household essentials. Shifting due to the changing needs of busy consumers looking for quick and easy solutions to their customers’ everyday needs. With the convenience of being open 24/7 and located in easily accessible areas, these stores have become a go-to destination for many shoppers who are short on time.  

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Service Improvements

Today, customers expect a personalized experience, not just a product. Business owners can retain customers and increase sales by offering rewards and incentives through loyalty programs. Not only do these programs incentivize customers to keep coming back, but they provide businesses with valuable customer data. This data can help businesses improve their marketing efforts and better understand their customers’ behavior. Convenience stores can leverage this data to identify customers’ preferences and adjust offerings accordingly. This is especially important for younger generations, who are more likely to shop with brands that align with their preferences.  

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As electric vehicles become more popular, retailers must have a plan for accommodating them. However, simply adding a charger is not enough. Retailers should focus on providing valuable services to customers waiting for their cars to charge. This can increase revenue, attract new customers, and promote a positive image. Retailers should research to determine demand and consider the costs and maintenance of EV charging stations and amenities. Offering free Wi-Fi, comfortable seating areas, and even electric car wash services will help draw in EV owners.  

Store Design

The design of a convenience store is a crucial factor that can affect the customer experience. According to Cstore Dive, businesses are focusing this year on revamping the interior and exterior of their stores to create a unique atmosphere that attracts customers and encourages them to spend more time in the store. 

Evaluating your store’s layout, lighting, and signage is crucial to ensure they are not cluttered, confusing, or dull. A well-designed store with proper lighting can create a welcoming and pleasant atmosphere that encourages customers to stay longer. 

Additionally, the cleanliness and maintenance of your store’s bathroom facilities are essential. Providing clean and well-maintained restrooms can significantly impact the customer’s perception of your store. A dirty or poorly maintained bathroom can lead to a negative experience, which may discourage customers from returning. 

Technology Advancements

Everywhere we turn, we hear about the advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, and the convenience store industry is no exception. One of the most exciting applications of AI in this industry is its ability to predict and forecast customer behavior and purchase patterns accurately. This information can be a game changer for convenience store operators, empowering them to make informed decisions about inventory management, staffing, and marketing strategies. 

AI can also revolutionize loyalty programs by analyzing customer data and identifying patterns and trends to help stores better understand their customers. Imagine walking into a convenience store, and the store’s AI system knows exactly what you like and makes personalized product recommendations tailored to your preferences. Now, that’s a top-notch shopping experience! 

And it doesn’t stop there. Self-checkout options are also getting an AI-powered update, with camera technology making checkout faster and easier. Forbes reports that the newest countertop system uses AI to automatically identify and ring up items, meaning customers can check out in as little as 10 seconds – 8 times faster than a regular self-checkout machine! With these exciting advancements, the future of convenience stores is looking brighter than ever. 

If you’re hesitant to integrate AI technology into your loyalty program or checkout process, that’s perfectly understandable. However, you can still reap the benefits of automation in other business areas. One easy way to start is by using AI-powered tools to generate social media content. Doing so can save time and effort while ensuring your posts are engaging and effective. So, if you’re looking for a low-risk way to incorporate AI into your business, this could be a great place to start! 

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TBHC Delivers®

TBHC Delivers is the largest distributor of Hunt Brothers Pizza; we are our own business and brand. We own our trucks and follow, believe and deliver on all Hunt Brothers Pizza’s visions. TBHC Delivers builds upon the high-quality product of Hunt Brothers Pizza with value-add customer service like our 15-Point Promise.