The coming months spell opportunity for retailers looking to increase foodservice sales among traveling consumers. According to Technomic’s Q1 2021 C-Store Consumer Marketbrief, many consumers have resumed their commutes to work, and fuel customer conversion has returned to pre-pandemic levels, with 51% of consumers entering the store as they fuel up on the forecourt.
Whether they’re driving to work, running errands or traveling for summer vacations, consumers have a growing need for on-the-go meals, giving c-stores an even greater impetus to compete in the recovering market.
Many retailers’ pandemic strategies involved downsizing staffs, menus and more, however. Luckily, preparing for an influx in foodservice sales need not mean an increase in costs or labor. Here are some strategies to keep consumers satisfied and back-of-house operations efficient across dayparts.
Offer convenience and quality all day long
Many c-store retailers have built menus rivaling those of dedicated QSRs, and quick, convenient service adds to the appeal. At breakfast, for example, consumers’ No. 1 and 2 priorities are that they can get their food quickly and that their food is portable, according to Technomic’s Q1 2021 C-Store Consumer Marketbrief. Lunch preferences are likely the same, especially as more and more consumers resume their routines working away from home.
Snacks make up a larger portion of c-store foodservice sales than any meal—37%, according to Technomic’s Marketbrief. This comes as no surprise, especially as consumers continue to move away from traditional mealtimes and turn to snacking instead.
Busy consumers are leading this trend, according to Technomic’s 2020 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report: Nearly one in five consumers say one of their motivations for snacking throughout the day is that it’s easier to eat a snack on the go than a full meal. This leads to a preference for satisfying snack options, as “high protein” and “energizing” tie for first among snack attributes consumers find most appealing.
Especially as stores expect more motorists on the road and more foot traffic in the store, prioritizing consumers’ demands for quick, convenient service and satisfying offerings on the menu can be an advantageous strategy.
Simplifying solutions save labor, cut costs
While retailers elevate their foodservice offerings to convert and retain customers, they are also seeking to cut out unnecessary costs, and for good reason. Downsizing and simplifying have been lifesaving strategies for c-stores nationwide. So how can retailers have the best of both worlds—not sacrificing an enhanced menu for back-of-house efficiency or vice versa?
High-quality prepared foods, such as sandwiches from E. A. Sween, offer a solution. With a wide range of craveable offerings, E. A. Sween offers something for everyone. The Deli Express line, for example, features wedge sandwiches, sub sandwiches and hot sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. And the Market Sandwich line offers a range of premium options, with artisan-style sandwiches and wraps for the grab-and-go section, sliders, delicious breakfast sandwiches to serve hot and more.
With the c-store foodservice market likely to remain as dynamic as ever in the coming months, retailers can turn to solutions from E. A. Sween to keep operations efficient and customers satisfied. To learn more, visit easween.com.
This post is sponsored by E.A. Sween