The COVID19 pandemic accelerated the innovation of convenience stores by a decade, driving this compact retail environment to deliver new forms of convenience. Playing a vital role during COVID19, C-Stores have opened accessibility to a range of essential and luxury goods.

As a mature market, the convenience store segment has become highly competitive, with a battle to gain the market share and share of wallet of each consumer. As the market approaches saturation, each player needs to differentiate themselves to win over the heart and pocket of individual consumers. Brands with weak or vague values or ones without a clearly defined and differentiated value proposition reduce the likelihood of returning clients.

Marketing strategy with a local lens

An effective marketing strategy requires data and analysis.  The main purpose of such a strategy is to maximize business performance, increase market share, enhance the share of wallet, and optimize product mix – while suiting the approach to regional and global trends.  

Geographic variance has a major impact on market characteristics. The motive for entering a store varies significantly between consumers across different countries. In some countries more than half of those entering convenience stores do so to pay for fuel, while in other countries, approximately 50% of the customers go in to buy beverages, cigarettes, food, or sweets.

The bottom line: A strategy based on one particular customer segment could keep other clients away. In contrast, a strategy based on a consumer trend appeals to a wider audience and demonstrates that the chain has its finger on the pulse of customer needs.

The C-Store industry has seen several changes through the pandemic. With a high reliance on tourism, some regions have seen a downturn, where other regions have seen an increase in retail purchases. Technology also had an influence on the C-Store’s success through the pandemic, with stores well equipped with contactless service technology seeing an increase in consumer confidence and sales. 

Merging online and offline transactions

With COVID19 heavily influencing the retail sector and C-Store market, rapid adaptation to changing customer requirements is essential. C-Stores that pivoted their sales approach, offering a range of ordering and collection options were able to diversify their client base, reaching a larger market segment. Stores that implemented click-and-collect orders or online ordering with drive-through collection are consistently seeing higher sales, with repeat customers. We expect this trend to continue post-pandemic with consumers recognising more efficient ways to purchase goods. 

Future insight: Offering online and offline purchasing capability helps reach different client demographics, paving the future for other ultra-convenient options like rapid or drone-based delivery.

Diversified product range

Purchasing food items and ready-to-eat meals from convenience stores are becoming more common, allowing fuel retailers to attract a stronger, more diversified client base. Providing healthier food, especially ready-to-go options, appeals to a millennial demographic. When it comes to healthy food options, the performance of most c-stores still lags several competing channels, and healthy and nutritious food desires are no longer a fad. As millennials and Gen Z become the primary users of away-from-home food, their desires for social responsibility and demand for healthy yet great-tasting food are expected to increase. (source

Market insight: Analyse your customer food habits based on analytics to diversify product holding and build cross-segmented customer demographics.

A contactless customer service journey

With health and wellbeing an emerging trend, all eyes are focussed on store cleanliness. Automating service like using vending machines was preferred by a range of customers – as long as they were clean. Low-contact or contactless payment and service options were preferred, offering customers a range of ways to check out conveniently. 

Next steps: Drive this trend forward by creating contactless food and payment options through click-n-collect or order ahead. Provide frictionless, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered self-checkout to increase efficiency, consumer loyalty and boost revenues. 

Understanding rapidly emerging client trends specific to your region and client base are key to nurturing market shifts and select client demographics. As seen in Orpak’s solutions, customer behavior data analytics generate an in-depth analysis of client spending habits with easy- to-understand data to inform your product ordering and business planning. 

Industry direction: The rise in consumer expectation for self-service, and a surge in demand for online shopping, curbside pickup, and local delivery, requires businesses to shift their strategy, automate processes and move to digital platforms which support demand.

Our Top future predictions

Our top future predictions include:

  • Emerging Loyalty Programs – with customers increasingly brand sensitive, personalized marketing and offerings, as opposed to pricing, will be crucial to building brand loyalty.
  • Increased analytics – producing insights into customers, peak times, stock holding and service metrics, driving the future of convenience stores.
  • Multi-channel marketing – reaching the target market through optimized channels, based on consumer habits and desires.

With future-proof technologies such as Passport X Retail Platform – 3rd party applications, loyalty program, and omnichannel support, alongside a host of analytics tools and reports – the solutions are at retail providers’ fingertips. 

Contact us to learn more about Passport X to help pave s future.