LAS VEGAS -- When it comes to disruption, someone always comes out on top, said Hank Armour, president and CEO of NACS, at the 2018 NACS Show in Las Vegas. Armour compared the proliferation of cars from 1900 to 1913 to the adoption of the smartphone over the past decade.
“People say there’s never been as dramatic or rapid change as there is today,” Armour said. “Well, there has been. Someone always wins, someone always loses, and there’s always new ways to compete.”
Here’s Armour's advice for how retailers can remain relevant as disruptors redefine convenience ...
Armour does not think the “just walk out” Amazon Go threat is as ubiquitous as it first appears, because the platform makes the sale of age-restricted items such as tobacco and alcohol difficult logistically; however, the concept emphasizes that retailers should be very aware what’s happening in other retail formats, he said. Heralding the future of ordering and payments, about one-third of Starbucks’ orders now come from mobile order and pay since launching the service in 2015.
“That’s a wave I would catch a ride on—mobile order and frictionless pay is must,” he said.
Photograph by CSP Staff
Rev up to EVs
A couple of years ago, Armour would have said that electric vehicles are much ado about very little. Today, he’s not so sure. “It’s going to be a long time until EV is in Wyoming and Argentina, but little waves can grow in size,” he said. To brace for these tidal waves, retailers ought to deliver a compelling store offer to bring people to the lot to purchase fuel, not the other way around, he said.
Don't get comfortable
C-stores do not necessarily own convenience. Consumers say drugstores and dollar stores can be just as convenient as a traditional c-store, Armour said. “Let’s not get caught thinking we are an insulated channel, because we are not,” he said. Instead, convenience is a mindset, and channel walls are being obliterated, he said.
When NACS met with e-commerce company Alibaba, which has sales seven times greater than Amazon on its best day, company representatives said that convenience lives online, and the domain of brick-and-mortar is all about the shopping experience.
“We have to be paddling to a future in which our stores deliver a compelling shopping experience, with as frictionless ordering and payment as possible,” Armour said.