Snacks & Candy

Reimagining the C-Store Bakery Case

Photograph: Shutterstock

In today’s climate of COVID-19 concern, consumers are reconsidering old purchasing habits. Where does this leave the convenience-store bakery case? With a new framework of pandemic fears and safety practices, that usual welcoming window of fresh treats, ready to grab with a sheet of wax paper, now has some consumers thinking twice about baked goods to-go. According to Datassential’s Coronavirus research, less than half of consumers trust other shoppers at c-stores. It’s no surprise, then, that two out of five consumers consider self-service bakery items at c-stores to be unsafe. How can c-stores counter these bakery case worries, especially with other patrons affecting overall perceived safety and sanitation?

To win consumers’ trust, c-stores will need to reimagine the bakery case. Over 90% of consumers think c-stores need to make changes to their current safety measures as a response to the pandemic. In this time where comfort foods and indulgence are continuing to trend, c-stores can help build customer confidence to purchase their favorite treats through bakery case changes. Think visual cues communicating safety and sanitation, more protective packaging and even a virtual bakery case through apps and curbside pickup or delivery.

·         Top expected safety measures for c-store consumers are visual, and include employees wearing masks and gloves, as well as surfaces being wiped down and sanitized. These precautions send a message that the store overall is clean and safe, and this extends to the bakery case as well. Additional signage regarding cleaning frequency, limited touchpoints or updated grab-and-go practices may help assuage consumers feeling unsure about baked goods. Make sure consumers can see that safety is top of mind during their time in-store.

·         Packaging itself is also a visual cue, and seeing donuts and pastries in an open display isn’t comforting for consumers that distrust their fellow shoppers’ safety habits. While consumers are skeptical about the self-service bakery case, 70% consider packaged foods to be safe, and so greater barriers between baked goods and other people could be a welcome change. Fully sealed paper window bags marry bakery freshness with safety, with the bonus potential for eco-friendly compostable versions. Sturdier clam shell packages may work well for multi-pack offerings, like cookies or mix-and-match mini desserts.

·         Nine out of ten c-store consumers are open to the idea of apps, curbside pick-up and delivery of c-store prepared items (with around half feeling okay with these changes for the long-term). So, make the bakery case virtual to alleviate the potential for consumer unease in-store. 7-Eleven offers both pick-up and delivery through a recently launched app, while Wawa has partnered with third party companies to offer delivery. Both Sheetz and Kum & Go have implemented curbside pick-up, harkening back to days of full-service gas stations providing extra amenities. In addition to these apps and services, consider utilizing gas pump screens to advertiseor even offer ordering forbakery goods, to create the opportunity for impulse buys outside of the store.

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This post is sponsored by Rich Products