CHICAGO — Convenience stores were set to see another year of steady growth in delivery, loyalty, e-commerce and more by the end of 2019.
Then 2020 and COVID-19 came along and put these trends in overdrive. “I’ve told my team I think [the pandemic] has probably sped up contactless payment by three to five years,” said Kevin Smartt, CEO of Bonham, Texas-based Kwik Chek.
Click through for five tech trends that defined 2020 for c-stores …
All in on delivery
In last year’s year-end tech report, CSP documented c-stores flirting with delivery, but stay-at-home orders and social distancing restrictions transformed flirtation into a real relationship.
As c-stores became more comfortable with delivery, other channels moved into the convenience space. Most notably, DoorDash revealed its app-based retail platform DashMart, through which mobile customers can order a mix of foodservice and retail items.
Stay tuned for the Power 20 List in the January issue of CSP magazine for a look at retailers leading the industry’s efforts to pivot to delivery and other last-mile services.
Next generation loyalty
The year started off with a bang for loyalty programs when Casey’s General Stores launched its first effort, Casey’s Rewards. The program allowed customers to earn points on purchases and redeem them for “Casey’s Cash” or fuel discounts. Alternatively, guests could donate them to a local school of their choice.
This industry is only big enough for so many buzzwords. “Frictionless” is out and “contactless” is in after 2020. Kum & Go, MAPCO, Phillips 66 and others have released new ways for customers to pay for fuel with their mobile phones. Circle K, GetGo, Love’s, Sheetz and others introduced in-store contactless payment options.
In April, RaceTrac introduced a new online ordering platform. The new feature unlocked the ability for customers to select and order items from the RaceTrac location closest to them and pick it up within 30 minutes.
Fuel retailers caught a brake in May when Visa and other payment-card brands pushed the EMV liability shift from October 2020 to April 2021. On the date of the shift, fuel retailers will become liable for any fraud committed at their fuel dispensers if they do not have EMV chip readers installed.
But with April fast approaching, the industry is still far from reaching outside EMV compliance, putting many retailers at risk of facing grueling legal fees if they are unable to make the changes in time.