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How frictionless service can boost beverage appeal and sales

Whirley cup
Photograph courtesy of Whirley-DrinkWorks!

C-store retailers looking for a way to increase beverage sales may want to consider incorporating more technology into their drink programs. With frictionless service, consumers can get in and out of the store in even less time, perhaps making the chance of stopping in for a drink even more likely.

According to Technomic’s C-Store MarketBrief reports, 67% of consumers cite fuel as a primary reason for visits to c-stores, and 58% say lack of time is the reason they don’t enter convenience stores. With beverages making up 56% of c-store foodservice sales in 2018, and foodservice expected to grow 4.1% in 2019, it makes sense for retailers to figure out ways to get more customers in the store going forward—and frictionless payment is just one tactic.

Nearly 1 in 5 retailers say they plan to add time-saving technology such as mobile order-ahead capabilities and touchscreen in-store ordering kiosks, according to Technomic’s study Era of Disruption: Is Your Business Built for Growth? With frictionless payment, these order-ahead options, in-store kiosks and scan-and-pay options can help trim even more time off a visit.

Frictionless payments

Amazon Go stores lead the way in frictionless payment. The locations, which began opening in early 2018, allow customers to shop for convenience products and some groceries without having to stand in line to pay. Using “just walk out” technology, shoppers download the Amazon Go app that links to their Amazon accounts, take the products they want off shelves and go on their way.

Other examples of frictionless payments include 7-Eleven’s foray into offering the technology. The convenience chain recently began offering Scan & Pay via its app in 14 stores in the Dallas area, allowing customers to skip the checkout line entirely.

Prepaid refills with RFID-enabled mugs

Another frictionless solution strategy that c-stores can consider is offering a prepaid refill mug program using RFID technology.

Prepaid refill cups drive loyalty, visits and speed of service, since customers can skip the register line if they’re only getting a drink. These cups function as a “Skip the Line” loyalty program.

As for RFID-enabled refill mugs, they work when they interact with approved beverage dispensers, such as coffee or fountain drinks, or external in-store equipment that have an integrated scanner that can read RFID chips embedded in the mugs. With this technology, an RFID chip is programmed with the appropriate size of refill that the chip-reader identifies, and a digital screen will communicate how many refills are left on the cup. Once refills are redeemed, customers have the opportunity to “recharge” the cup with more refills. This type of innovative project works well when there is integration between IT, Operations and Marketing partnering with ValidFill’s technology team to come up with a solution that’s tailored to each retailer. ValidFill, a subsidiary of Whirley-DrinkWorks, provides the RFID technology and frictionless service solutions for the RFID cups, which are provided by Whirley-DrinkWorks.

Convenience chain Sheetz recently developed and tested a prepaid refill mug program in partnership with ValidFill. The chain had a three-tiered program, preloading each cup with five or 10 free refills, and also offered a 30-day unlimited refill program.

This RFID technology, in addition to speeding up visits, also captures all data tied to refill cups, including the number of refills a customer gets, their beverage preference, the time of day they visit and more, which all allows retailers to better explore their offerings and enhance loyalty.

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How convenience can lead to more beverage sales

Skipping lines and being able to get in and out of a store in just a few seconds can be the difference between stopping for a drink or not for some consumers. When trying to get the kids to school in the morning or rushing to get to their next appointment, customers may be more inclined to stop in for a coffee, soda or other beverage if they know they can get in and out without having to wait in line.

For c-stores looking to boost interest in dispensed beverages, making the purchase process fast and easy through technology may be just the ticket.

This post is sponsored by Whirley-DrinkWorks!

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