Convenience store operators are rethinking the design of their stores amid evolving consumer expectations around foodservice. As operators upgrade their offerings to include more made-to-order prepared foods, they are also taking steps to revamp the entire in-store experience.
“The influence of [younger consumers] is taking us to a different place, and there are different expectations as to the retail experience overall,” said Mike Lawshe, president and CEO of design firm Paragon Solutions.
As such, convenience retailers are following the lead of fast-casual restaurant chains and installing concepts such as taquerias and made-to-order burger stations in the hot area, while upgrading offerings in delis to include made-to-order sandwiches and salads. To go along with these improved offerings, operators are also enhancing store ambiance with higher-quality lighting and design elements and adding more comfortable seating for dine-in foodservice customers.
They are also adding charging stations, wi-fi access and TVs, which can be used both for customer entertainment and marketing. With these added amenities, customers are given the option to linger on the premises in a relaxed environment if they so choose.
“There are visual cues in retail design you can bring to the store that tell customers ‘this a different kind of convenience store’,” said Lawshe. “Does it look, walk and talk like an old-fashioned convenience store, or does it look, walk and talk like a new, modern market? From a retail design standpoint, that’s the trend.”
Some retailers, such as Twice Daily, are seeking to build a store-within-a-store where customers can relax and enjoy watching TV while enjoying a high-quality coffee, snack or meal. By implementing elements such as these, c-stores are telling customers that this is a place where they can relax for a while.
The installation of TVs in these environments can provide multiple advantages for both consumers and retailers alike. According to a custom survey conducted by Technomic in partnership with DIRECTV for BUSINESS, 58% of customers say having TVs installed in the customer area of the store creates a more welcoming environment, and 52% said it encourages customers to stay longer and spend more.
Having TVs in the customer area also gives customers something to pass the time while they wait for their food to be prepared.
Additionally, TVs can provide in-store messaging around products and promotions in customer areas, which can increase guest purchases, Technomic’s survey found. More than a third—36%—of operators who have TVs installed said they enable promotions and communications.
Customers who are heavy users of convenience stores are especially interested in making use of in-store TVs, according to Technomic’s survey. The survey found that 63% of heavy c-store users and 71% of super-heavy users said they would be likely to make use of in-store TVs.
TVs can also be used for gaming in some states, which has the potential to attract even more customers to linger and enjoy a quality dining experience.
Lawshe also suggested the potential exists for more personalized interactions with consumers via an in-store TV that is connected to a customer’s smartphone, for example.
However they are used, TVs and high-quality foodservice offerings complement each other well and together enhance the experience in the modern convenience store environment.
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This post is sponsored by DIRECTV for BUSINESS