PHILADELPHIA -- The year 2025 will be a period of technological transition, and digital commerce program provider Stuzo predicts convenience stores will embody that change.
Stuzo has assembled a video outlining its vision of the suburban c-store of the future. CEO Gunter Pfau shared an early version of the video with Conexxus Annual Conference attendees in Chicago in May. “We’re outsiders coming in with a very different perspective of your industry,” said Pfau, and the content is a clear departure from the gas, smokes and Cokes model.
The video rolls through a futuristic corner store with alternative-fuel pumps, an updated drive-thru system and a host of automated services not found in c-stores today, each personalized to interact differently with every consumer.
The concept includes a dining area almost as large as the store itself, complete with a menu board and computer terminals. The foodservice pavilion in the concept includes glass walls that can open and close, allowing for a more open-air feel, temperature permitting. The layout also includes a playground where kids can play while parents wait for food or fuel.
Inside the store, customer seating faces terminals where customers can access personalized in-store deals and discounts, surf the web or browse social media.
The new drive-thru
As autonomous vehicles (AVs) become more common on the road, retail infrastructure will adjust to accommodate them. Stuzo predicts AVs will be prevalent enough by 2025 that some c-stores will build two lanes to a drive-thru—one for human-driven vehicles and one for AVs.
Stuzo envisions AV services that allow customers to order food or drinks that arrive with the car when it picks them up, and believes c-stores can be a part of this new delivery model through AV drive-thrus.
Alternative fuels will be more ingrained in American infrastructure by 2025, but there will still be plenty of gas-powered vehicles on the road by this time.
As such, Stuzo's vision of the suburban c-store of the future includes one section in the forecourt for gas-powered vehicles and another section for electric vehicles (EVs).
Each customer fueling up, whether they do so with gasoline or electricity, will interact with an interactive display at the pump or charging station with personalized information. Customers can place an order for food or access other services at the display before they enter the store.
As automation and artificial intelligence become more advanced, Stuzo predicts c-store services will expand. The company envisions ATMs being replaced by banking kiosks where customers have greater access to their personal finances.
Instead of human employees checking identification for age-restricted purchases, Stuzo predicts touchscreens will use facial recognition to identify adults. Similarly, Stuzo sees the same biometric verification technology used to provide pharmacy services in-store.
Stuzo uses dry-cleaning as another example of a service not normally associated with c-stores that could be a part of the convenience experience thanks to automation.
Similar to the “just walk out” technology pioneered by Amazon for its Amazon Go c-store, Stuzo’s vision includes a frictionless checkout process allowing customers to simply grab an item, leave the store and be charged automatically for their purchase without waiting in line.
Join Stuzo CEO Gunter Pfau and CSP Technology Editor Jackson Lewis for a Fireside Chat on present and future disruption facing c-stores at Outlook Leadership 2018 in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 21.