ATLANTA — “Technology is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” said Nick Peters, IT director of Holmes Oil, the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based parent company of Cruizers convenience stores.
Peters led the charge implementing the frictionless scan-and-go app Skip Checkout at all 26 Cruizers locations earlier this year in both rural and urban markets. After months spent training employees and rolling out the new app, Peters is still assessing the app’s effectiveness in the stores.
He shared lessons learned during the process in an education session at the 2019 NACS Show in Atlanta. Click through for more on the pros and cons of Cruizers’ experience in implementing Skip Checkout …
The right mindset
Peters did not want to implement Skip simply for the sake of it. “Cool technology is great,” he said, “but if it’s counterproductive to what we’re trying to sell our consumer, it’s pointless.”
One reason the company decided to implement the tool was that it would set it apart from the competition. “Everybody sells the same Mountain Dew,” he said.
Buy-in all around
In order to successfully implement a scan-and-go system, Peters said Cruizers had to secure buy-in from both customers and employees. “The good news is when people use this solution, oh, it’s sticky,” he said. Once customers tried the app, they were very likely to use it in subsequent visits.
Employees were more complicated. Peters asked the Cruizers staff to thoroughly test and vet the app before it was implemented and give honest feedback. “They were very candid with me,” he said. Not all of it was good news, mostly because asking customers to simply scan an item and leave the store forces them to unlearn a lifetime of habits built to grab something and go to the counter, he said.
Another lesson Peters and his team learned was that training staff on the new tool was not a one-and-done operation. While some stores absolutely “crushed it” when it came to Skip, others had literally zero Skip transactions per day, he said. When he visited the stores that were not using the app successfully, they simply told him they didn’t know how to use it. Peters realized new staff had to learn the system and some staff had to be retrained on how to use the Skip app.
is it worth it?
“We are still trying to figure out if we like this or not,” Peters said.
Customers that use the app love it, he said, but Cruizers has not seen same-store sales growth after adopting Skip. At this point, Peters said Cruizers is still developing benchmarks for success. “Where I could make the argument for [adopting Skip], I could also play devil’s advocate and argue against it.”